Travis County begins negotiations with CTRMA to construct two bond projects in Precinct 4

Commissioners debated a number of transportation improvement measures that they hope will solve the gap in access for unincorporated areas of the county.

Commissioners debated a number of transportation improvement measures that they hope will solve the gap in access for unincorporated areas of the county.

Travis County will begin negotiations to create an interlocal agreement with the Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority, or CTMRA, to construct two safety projects identified as part of the 2017 bond program, following a 4-0 vote and one abstention from commissioners Tuesday afternoon.

The county’s Transportation and Natural Resources staff, the department overseeing the bond projects, is recommending two projects located in Precinct 4 to CTRMA for construction–the Elroy Road Widening project and improvements to Ross Road South.

According to county documents, the Elroy Road Widening project will convert the existing two-lane roadway from McAngus Road to Kellam Road into a four-lane divided roadway with bike lanes and sidewalks. The project crosses a large flood plain and will include a bridge structure to reduce the probability of flooding and will provide an evacuation route during flood events. The project will also add east and west roadway capacity in the region. Funding includes $4.4 million for design and right-of-way, and $24.3 million for construction.

The Ross Road South project will widen the existing two-lane roadway from Pearce Lane to Heine Farm Road to a four-lane divided roadway with bike lanes and sidewalks, county documents stated. This project will add north and south roadway capacity and safety in the region by providing bike and pedestrian facilities to connect several nearby neighborhoods with local schools. Funding includes $1 million for design and right-of-way, and $3.6 million for construction.

County staff said the agreement states the county will fund the project and CTRMA agreed to manage the design, procurement and construction of the project.

Despite the county’s previous successful collaboration with the mobility authority on other projects in the past, County Judge Sarah Eckhardt and Commissioner Brigid Shea expressed some concern with CTRMA handling so much of the project.

Shea, who abstained from the vote, said she felt the mobility authority's handling of the North MoPac project was poor. She said there was also a possible of a conflict of interest with hiring an engineering firm that both provides advice on county construction projects and then often bids and does projects for CTRMA.
“If [the agreement] still appears to show a conflict of interest I will not support the ILA that will come to commissioners for approval,” Shea said. "I would also like some assurance from CTRMA that the issues that plagued the North MoPac project will not afflict our county projects."

The final agreement will be brought back to commissioners for approval.


Photo of the Sobering Center
Travis County moves forward with plans for mental health diversion program at Sobering Center

The program would divert people experiencing mental health crises away from jail and towards supportive services following low-level offenses.

Baylor Scott & White Pflugerville
Ascension, Baylor Scott & White to require all employees be fully vaccinated against coronavirus by fall

Ascension and Baylor Scott & White have announced all eligible employees must be vaccinated against COVID-19 in the coming months. 

Photo of an egg dish
Kerbey Lane Cafe serves the Austin community with 'family feeling'

Since 1980, the cafe has served up breakfast, lunch and dinner at locations around the Capital City.

Austin City Council will convene for a regular meeting July 29, its first since mid-June. (Ben Thompson/Community Impact Newspaper)
Austin City Hall notebook: Council to look at downtown safety, homelessness and budgeting in return from meetings break

The first regular council meeting since mid-June features a packed agenda and opportunity for resident feedback on Austin's proposed budget.

Photo of a hand holding a vaccine vial
As COVID-19 hospitalizations track upward, Austin Public Health renews call for vaccinations

APH also mirrors the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's latest guidance for vaccinated individuals to wear masks in some circumstances.

The request to table talks regarding designated campsites came one week after city staff detailed two properties that could be used for such an initiative. (Ben Thompson/Community Impact Newspaper)
Ellis, Harper-Madison call for halt to Austin's 'Band-Aid' sanctioned homeless encampment plans

The East and Southwest Austin representatives shared their thoughts on the process one week after city properties in their districts were tapped as workable encampment sites.

Photo of a woman holding a Pride flag
Austin July and August events: Bat Fest, monster trucks and Pride

A variety of in-person and virtual events are happening around Austin this summer.

Photo of a house with a "for sale" sign in the front yard
A seller’s market in Southwest Austin continues to challenge homebuyers

Local experts say a "perfect storm" of construction obstacles continue to restrict home supply.

The CDC reversed its masking guidance for fully vaccinated individuals in response to the transmissibility of the delta variant of COVID-19 in a press conference July 27. (Community Impact Newspaper staff)
NEW CDC GUIDANCE: All individuals should wear masks in K-12 schools, including those who are fully vaccinated

The new CDC guidance, announced July 27, also recommends people in areas with "high" or "substantial" levels of transmission wear masks regardless of vaccination status.

Several Southwest Austin offices included thousands of square feet of space available for sublease as of early 2021. (Ben Thompson/Community Impact Newspaper)
Southwest Austin office subleasing positioned to cool off amid return to in-person work

Southwest Austin's sublease availability more than tripled from early 2019 into 2021, although the market may be shifting away from that trend as offices are reoccupied this year.

The monthslong search for Austin's new police chief is expected to wrap up before the end of August. (Ben Thompson/Community Impact Newspaper)
Search for Austin's next top cop narrows to 7 finalists; new chief to be named by end of August

Seven finalists from across the country remain in the search for Austin's next police chief, the city announced July 26.

Austin ISD will offer virtual learning options to students in kindergarten through sixth grade for the 2021-22 school year, according to a July 26 news release from the district. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Austin ISD plans to offer virtual learning for some students in 2021-22 school year

The district changed course on virtual learning after rising case counts led the local health authority to revert to Stage 4 guidelines, including wearing masks.