Pflugerville officials say potential MoKan uses could be detrimental

Pflugerville officials say potential MoKan uses could be detrimentalOut of about a dozen options the Texas Department of Transportation is considering for repurposing the abandoned MoKan rail corridor, all but two would be “devastating” to Pflugerville, according to city officials.

The MoKan corridor is a mostly state-controlled railroad right of way that runs roughly along Railroad Avenue in Pflugerville and crosses Pecan Street near FM 685. The MoKan right of way passes by about 30 subdivisions and within 200 feet of more than 400 homes in Pflugerville, according to city documents. The right of way’s total length extends from Austin through Georgetown.

In January, Pflugerville City Council reviewed a draft of the state’s MoKan feasibility study—which includes options for turning the corridor into a four-lane, raised highway or a highway with frontage roads, among others—and passed a resolution opposing all options other than a hike and bike trail or commuter rail.

“Pflugerville is not against mobility. We’re just into reasonable mobility,” Pflugerville City Manager Brandon Wade said. “In some instances [TxDOT’s] proposals show [MoKan] being turned into an extraordinarily major roadway—perhaps four lanes in each direction—which would be completely devastating to the community.”

In 2012, City Council passed a resolution opposing a commuter rail going into the MoKan corridor. However, the resolution the council passed in January showed support for a rail line.

Councilwoman Starlet Sattler said she can see the MoKan right of way from her yard and is concerned that a highway built through the corridor would be obtrusive and dangerous.

“Some of the [complex] options I just don’t see how they have the space to do it,” she said. “The MoKan corridor is not that wide. It’s going to dissect this part of the city tremendously.”

Sattler said she has previously opposed a rail line through the corridor and believes train or vehicle traffic would pose a risk to children crossing the corridor to get to school.

“We have so many schools right here on this corridor,” she said. “That is going to be a very dangerous situation.”

Pflugerville resident Clark Meier said he supports a rail line through the MoKan corridor and has spoken before City Council on the issue.

“[Rail lines] encourage growth and commerce,” he said.

Meier said he would like to see MoKan utilized and would not necessarily oppose a highway, although he said he questioned the usefulness of a multilane road.

“It would be a shame to let that right of way continue to be unused,” he said.

TxDOT officials stated that the MoKan study is preliminary, and spokesman Christopher Bishop said the next steps are being determined.

Bishop said in an email that if an alternative is deemed viable, TxDOT will reach out to all stakeholders and concerned individuals.

Wade said as long as options such as a major highway or toll road are on the table there is cause for concern. He said the bigger issue is that Pflugerville officials feel they have not been kept informed about the project.

“This study was supposed to have been finished last June. [TxDOT] met with us once during that period [and] didn’t give us any sort of updates,” he said. “With that, I don’t have a lot of trust in what’s going on.”

Round Rock Transportation Director Gary Hudder said Round Rock has not yet seen the study draft. MoKan runs through parts of Round Rock, but it does not pass by much high density housing, Hudder said.

“Pflugerville’s issue is they have significant building crowding in the right of way that we don’t have in Round Rock,” he said. “We want to maintain control of [its] use, but we don’t share the same concern.”

Bishop said TxDOT informed Pflugerville of the study and of its preliminary engineering-based nature.

“The city’s concerns have been duly noted in the study and discussed with our administration,” Bishop said.


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