Leander Independent School District received a copy of an official letter recently supporting their cause for an access road to Vandegrift High School according to the Four Points Traffic Committee.
The letter, dated June 27, was written by executives from 3M and whose property adjoins the area in question and was directed to members of the Balcones Canyonlands Conservation Plan Coordinating Committee. This committee is headed by the mayor and several commissioners.
“Leander ISD is in receipt of a letter from 3M to Commissioner Daugherty and Mayor Leffingwell supporting our plans and advising no other solution exists,” the FPTC said in a statement.
“This was an important endorsement to receive and the Traffic Committee thanks 3M for supporting our plans and being our partner.”
The FPTC is “committed to protecting our community, our students, and our environment” by planning and building a secondary access road from Vandegrift HS and Four Points MS campus to the intersection of River Place Boulevard and Four Points Drive.
The committee says the access road would divert some of the 6,000 trips a day from RM 2222 and McNeil Drive and provide essential emergency access and a secondary evacuation route.
LISD President Pam Waggoner and attorney Alan Glen spoke at a meeting in late May with the BCP committee where almost 150 local residents appeared in support of the roadway. At the time, Glen was introduced as one of the original source document authors of the BCCP covenants.
Glen spoke then about how the FPTC proposes to make use of the so-called “Bull Creek Primary Infrastructure Corridor #1,” an already-existing right-of-way through the preserve. This corridor is home to electric transmission lines and underground water lines, with a gravel road on top.
Leander ISD growth is paramount
“The purpose of these corridors is to receive infrastructure development,” Glen said. This practice serves to limit any disturbance in the preserve to highly localized areas.
“Furthermore, the BCCP source documents say to expect schools in the area and to be prepared to improve roads near the preserve,” Glen said at the May meeting.
“The City of Austin was just named the 11th most populous city in the United States, which highlights the substantial population growth since the BCCP was adopted in 1996,” the FPTC said in a recent statement.
“LISD is currently experiencing one of the largest student increases in the nation and is expected to add 13,841 students by 2022, bringing the student population of LISD up to 48,190 students. The BCCP staff needs to start considering the provisions within the BCCP that allow flexibility to address population growth,” according to the FPTC.
William Conrad, manager at the City of Austin Water, Conservation Lands Division, has been vocal in his disagreements with the FPTC’s position on building a road on top of the BCCP corridor.
“We sent a rebuttal letter to Mayor Leffingwell and Commissioner Daugherty regarding Mr. Conrad’s interpretation of the BCCP,” the FPTC said in a recent statement.
State representative supports roadway
Waggoner recently spoke with Democratic State Representative Donna Howard from District 48 about the roadway project.
“Since VHS and FPMS sits in her district, it is important we include all our representatives and elected leaders into this conversation. This includes federal levels also,” Waggoner said.
“Donna has always been very supportive of Leander ISD and understands this safety issue. She has the respect of the environmental community in Austin so her opinion and support will be vital,” Waggoner said.
State District 48 includes all of H-E-B, Four Points Drive and 3M and more. District 48 is bounded locally on the south by RM 2222, on the west by RM 620, on the east by Loop 360, and to the north by Old Spicewood Springs Road. This northern boundary then runs across hilly preserve land as it approaches RM 620 in the area around Canyon Creek.
Former mayor, BCCP proponent supports roadway
One potential problem for the FPTC was recently resolved in its favor by the return of former Austin Mayor Bruce Todd to the Travis County Commissioners Court. Todd is taking the place of Sarah Eckhardt, who is leaving to run for County Judge and who had been a staunch supporter of the proposed roadway for safety reasons.
Todd in his time as mayor was deeply involved in the creation and early success of the BCCP. Todd’s support and his interpretation of the rules governing the preserve lands are of great importance to the FPTC.
LISD’s Waggoner, attorney Glen, and LISD Executive Director of Capital Improvements Jimmy Disler have already met with Commissioner Bruce Todd.
“Mr. Todd is very supportive of this plan and will work with us,” Waggoner said.