Williamson County commissioners to consider trails plan

The Williamson County Commissioners Court will discuss a master trails plan Oct. 2 that could add 578.3 miles to county trails.

The plan was compiled by Baker-Aicklen & Associates, a civil engineering and surveying company from Cedar Park and Round Rock. In a presentation given at the court's Sept. 25 meeting, Tim Bargainer, the firm's director of planning and landscape architecture, outlined 14 miles of priority trail segments to be built first if the plan is adopted. They also discussed constructing an additional 564.3 miles as part of the trail plans within each Williamson County municipality.

"The data that we used was an accumulation of geographic information system from all the different municipalities and jurisdictions within the county," Bargainer said. "We got all their ... plans and assimilated it into one countywide plan."

The locations identified for trails include 26.6 miles in Precinct 1 with 2.8 miles in priority trail; 193 miles in Precinct 2 with 6.7 miles made top priority; 279.7 miles in Precinct 3 with 0.8 miles given priority; and 79 miles in Precinct 4, with 3.7 miles receiving top consideration.

The existing county system includes a total 207.7 miles of trails, with 87 of those miles connecting. The purpose of the master trails plan is to "identify gaps and in existing and proposed trail networks" and to shrink those gaps, Bargainer said. The priority 14 miles will close the gaps within existing county trails before more trails are built.

"If you have a section here and a section there that's already built, and you build a smaller segment that touches one segment to the other, you've effectively connected a whole bunch of existing trails. So you get more trail for your dollar spent," Bargainer said.

Bargainer's presentation did not set a date to begin construction. Precinct 2 Commissioner Cynthia Long said she is excited to see how the trails improve throughout the county.

"We identified some great opportunities around the county to make some connections that really connect lots and lots of miles of trail," Long said. "So the plan is to use [the master trails plan] as a tool as we do road construction, as we have grant opportunities, as we have future bond programs, to be able to fund those gap projects ... to get a pretty big bang for your buck."

By Korri Kezar
Korri Kezar graduated from the University of Texas at Austin in 2011 with a degree in journalism. She worked for Community Impact Newspaper's Round Rock-Pflugerville-Hutto edition for two years before moving to Dallas. Five years later, she returned to the company to launch Community Impact Newspaper's Keller-Roanoke-Northeast Fort Worth edition, where she covers local government, development, transportation and a variety of other topics. She has also worked at the San Antonio Express-News, Austin-American Statesman and Dallas Business Journal.