By LYNETTE HAALAND, Four Points News
More than 150 people crowded into Towne Square Community Center on Dec. 11 as Steiner Ranch residents listened to Travis County’s presentation about proposed evacuation routes, asked questions and gave feedback.
The project has been in the works for years since the 2011 fires that destroyed 23 homes in Steiner. The project was approved $2.7 million in funding in early 2017.
Lately the county shared that more funds are needed to build an evacuation road. That is one reason last week’s presentation from the county focused on route F which is the only option that also would be a permanent road.
Creating a permanent road would allow the project to be eligible for funds from other sources such as Texas Department of Transportation and CAMPO, according to Brigid Shea, Precinct Two County Commissioner who was at the Dec. 11 meeting.
Route F was presented on Dec. 5 as the county’s top choice at a meeting in Steiner with residents who live near the site where route F runs. But after overwhelmingly negative feedback for a permanent road at that meeting, the county is slowing down the process and pulled together the Dec. 11 meeting in short order in an effort to get more community feedback.
As of this week, the county now is bringing a few more options back into consideration after the pushback from residents.
At the Dec. 11 meeting, routes B, G and F were presented with pros and cons of each. The vast majority of comments from the community were against a permanent road being built. Most of the residents who commented seemed to continue to like the idea of an evacuation-only road.
Some need more information to make an educated opinion.
Emergency service officials were in attendance from the sheriff’s office and fire department. They admit that now there is an actual plan in place for a more efficient evacuation since the 2011 fires in Steiner which would include contra flow, managing RM 620 traffic and signals better and closing roads, and not evacuating an entire neighborhood unless residents are in a dangerous area.
Brian Thompto, chairman of Steiner Ranch Neighborhood Association, moderated the meeting.
“Thank you to all who came out to the SRNA meeting this evening. It was a very crowded room and everyone was very respectful of each others’ time during the evacuation discussion,” Thompto said. “In summary, the county presented three options, B, G and F. With B and G being evacuation only and F being open. At the meeting there was an indication by a resident in attendance that option B may not be viable due to owner plans to build – we will see if the county replaces this option with an alternate.”
Full coverage and more comments in the next edition of Four Points News, which is now a Sunday newspaper.
Photos by Lynette Haaland