Ongoing projects and safety improvements: August transportation updates for Lake Travis-Westlake area

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  1. Short-term and routine maintenance work on Redbud Trail bridge slated to last through mid-August

Drivers traveling between West Austin and West Lake Hills have likely noticed construction crews in the area performing maintenance work on Redbud Trail that began July 13.

The city said the work is routine maintenance and includes repaving and restriping lanes, repairing guardrails along the Emmett Shelton Bridge and other minor bridge repairs. Work is expected to be finished by early to mid-August, weather permitting.

The short-term work is not related to the bridge-replacement project that is currently in the design phase. The bridge, which was built in 1948, has insufficient bicycle and pedestrian paths in place and was not designed with modern traffic in mind, according to the city.

In November, voters approved $160 million in bond funding for transportation infrastructure, including $50 million toward the Redbud project. After reviewing alternatives, the city selected a design that will construct a new bridge, which will keep one traffic lane in both directions but add shoulders for improved safety as well as a shared bicycle and pedestrian path.

Conceptual design work will continue through 2019, according to a timeline posted on the project’s website, before a detailed bridge design phase from 2020-23. Construction is set to take place in 2024-25. The city held a public meeting June 27 to receive input and provide an update on the project, and it is set to hold another meeting in late 2019 or early 2020.

Timeline: scheduled for completion in mid-August

Cost: $172,239

Funding source: Austin Public Works

2. Travis County commissioners select emergency evacuation route out of Steiner Ranch neighborhood

Travis County commissioners voted unanimously July 9 to select an evacuation route out of Steiner Ranch.

The chosen route—Route B—is a 900-foot gated connection between Flat Top Ranch Road and Montview Drive; it can be constructed for $980,000 and will have a capacity of 750 vehicles per hour.

The alternative, Route F, would have been a two-lane road connecting Flat Top Ranch and RM 620 and open to the public at all times. If chosen, it would have cost $7.2 million to construct and would have had a capacity of 1,500 vehicles per hour.

Although county staff said they believe Route F is the better long-term solution, they recommended commissioners choose Route B because it is more cost-effective.

Initially, county staff had planned to apply for grant funds from the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization to pay for Route F; however, CAMPO decided to funnel its grant funds to the Mobility35 Capital Express Project, which will revamp I-35.

Without the option of CAMPO funds, Route B is “a viable option that we can build quickly and affordably and within our budget,” Assistant Public Works Director David Greear said.

With the climate growing hotter and drier, action is critical, said Commissioner Brigid Shea, who represents Precinct 2, where Steiner Ranch is located.

Hector Nieto, Travis County public information officer, said a timeline for the project is not yet available, as the July 9 vote only started the process.

“We know there’ll be more fires. It’s not a matter of if, but when,” Shea said. “We have to do something, and Route B is something we can afford.”

County Judge Sara Eckhardt said the area has proven problematic in terms of its high risk for floods and wildfires.

Timeline: TBD

Cost: $980,000

Funding source: Travis County

3. Travis County heading project to add left-turn lane to Bullick Hollow

A mobility project that will add a left-turn lane on Bullick Hollow where the road intersects with FM 2769 has completed the design phase and is scheduled to begin construction in fall 2020, according to information from Travis County. The lane will run from FM 2769 to 400 feet south of the intersection.

Information from Travis County’s project webpage states the project was set to begin in fall 2020, but project manager Chiddi N’Jie said the project will now likely begin much sooner.

Timeline: construction scheduled to begin in fall 2019

Estimated Construction Cost: $240,000

Funding source: 2017 Travis County bond funds

4. Hamilton Pool Road safety improvements headed by Travis County slated for winter 2019 completion

Construction has begun for Phase 1 of a multimillion-dollar project to improve Hamilton Pool Road between RM 12 and the east top bank of the Pedernales River.

Information from Travis County states the project encapsulates safety improvements on the road that include replacement of the bridge over Hamilton Creek and the addition of turn lanes at the entrance to the Hamilton Pool Preserve. The project is 25% complete according to Travis County records.

Timeline: Estimated completion time for Phase 1 is winter 2019.

Cost: $2.5 million

Funding source: 2017 Travis County bond

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Brian Rash
Brian has been a reporter and editor since 2012. He wrote about the music scene in Dallas-Fort Worth before becoming managing editor for the Graham Leader in Graham, Texas, in 2013. He relocated to Austin, Texas, in 2015 to work for Gatehouse Media's large design hub. He became the editor for the Lake Travis-Westlake publication of Community Impact in August 2018.
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