Dozens of South Austin and Dripping Springs residents gathered Jan. 30 to view the Texas Department of Transportation’s newly unveiled plans to revamp a 13-mile stretch of Hwy. 290 from Oak Hill to Dripping Springs.

The meeting marked the first major update on the project since TxDOT held an initial public comment meeting in 2019, as it was temporarily stalled during the height of the pandemic.

The details

The project will extend from RM 12 in Dripping Springs to RM 1826 in Southwest Austin, connecting to the Oak Hill Parkway construction project that is currently underway. TxDOT is proposing the following upgrades to the corridor:
  • Widen the corridor from four to six lanes.
  • Add a divider between east- and westbound lanes.
  • Eliminate stop lights.
  • Add frontage roads, sidewalks and bike lanes.
The why

TxDOT officials said an uptick in traffic congestion and severe crashes on Hwy. 290 spurred the need for road improvements.

The 13-mile stretch of Hwy. 290 saw 1,501 crashes from 2019-2022, 4.8% of which were considered severe. The statewide average for similar roads is 2.8%, according to TxDOT.

The majority of crashes along the corridor are rear-end and left-turn collisions, accidents TxDOT officials say can be reduced by getting rid of the frequent stop lights.

TxDOT also found that average peak hour traffic volumes on the road are expected to jump 45% from 2019 to 2045 if no action is taken.

“I think it’s very much needed,” Dripping Springs resident Mark Penton said. “I mean you can see the growth out here. I’ve been here 26 years; the growth is ridiculous, and it’s getting worse.”

What else?

If the project moves forward, TxDOT will displace 13 residences, 82 businesses and a church. Dan Hollaway is among the 82 business owners that will have to relocate their workplaces.

“I mean it’s not a bad thing intrinsically,” he said. “Everybody is [going to] have an ax to grind.”

What’s next

TxDOT will hold another public comment meeting in the summer and a public hearing in the fall. The final design of the project, right-of-way acquisitions and construction date are to be determined.