By CASSIE MCKEE, FOUR POINTS NEWS
The Travis County Transportation and Natural Resources Department hosted a public meeting at Vandegrift High School recently to update the Four Points community on the county’s draft Land Water Transportation Plan (LWTP).
The LWTP is a set of long-term goals and policies that will provide a framework for how the county protects its land and water resources and builds transportation and park systems to meet rapid population growth. The Travis County Commissioners Court will use the LWTP to guide development and conservation of resources within Travis County.
A dozen people attended the meeting at VHS on September 24. A 30-minute Q&A session was also held to discuss issues specific to the Four Points community.
“We had a great discussion with the residents that made it to the Vandegrift public meeting,” said Steve Manilla, executive director of Transportation and Natural Resources. “It was an engaging dialogue, with discussions on bicycle facilities, development and regulations, and transportation needs in the area.”
Brian Thompto, president of the Steiner Ranch Neighborhood Association, attended the meeting and said much of the conversation centered on transportation needs in Four Points. He said he was very happy to see RM 620 listed as a major focal point for the county.
“It was very encouraging to see the need to develop the 620 corridor,” Thompto said. “The next step is to treat it as a priority with regards to funding in the coming years.”
Western Travis County
During the presentation, Charlie Watts, senior planner for TNR, said there are significant challenges in western Travis County with regards to building new roads, which means it will be even more important to support existing corridors.
“Challenges such as endangered species habitat, topography challenges and limited activity center locations make for providing new transportation corridors difficult,” Watts said. “What it leaves us with is to support existing activity centers along existing corridors. These corridors are RM 620, RM 2222, FM 2244 and S.H. 71 West.”
A map was shown with the projected growth forecasts within Travis County. The population of Travis County is forecasted to grow from the 2010 census count of 1 million by approximately 50 percent to 1.5 million people by 2035.
Thompto said he emphasized that a portion of the increase in traffic in Four Points in recent years has been a result of the significant growth in Williamson County, and that the county must take that into consideration when planning for future road funding.
“There are a lot of planned activity centers on the S.H. 130 corridors (in eastern Travis County) but we’re so far behind on infrastructure on the 620 corridor that it must be something that is prioritized in the immediate years,” Thompto said.
A series of seven public meetings were held across the county including the one at VHS as a part of the public engagement effort for the draft LWTP.
Meeting attendance was not as good as TNR planned for, said Arin Gray, a consultant hired by the county.
If interested citizens were not able to attend meetings, materials can be accessed online. The project website is at www.co.travis.tx.us/lwtp.
Those interested can sign up for email updates or follow TNR on social media.
Another way the public can be involved is through the commissioners court.
“The public can participate through the commissioners court process (they can sign up to speak) or attend to learn more,” Gray said.
Earlier there was also an online survey, which closed October 1, to gather input. As of last week, Gray said the county had received approximately 700 survey responses.
“We will create a summary of public input collected and then the staff will develop recommend updates and/or any changes to the plan,” Gray said. “This information will be shared with the commissioners’ court and the county will work toward an adopted plan by December 2014.”
TNR will notify those on its email list once the information is posted with dates for commissioners court sessions.
The County TNR Department created the draft LWTP by building upon existing plans, and identifying priorities and preferences for future growth and to address citizen needs. Staff will develop any recommend changes based on public input and share that with the Travis County Commissioners Court, working towards an adopted plan by December this year.
Travis County TNR is responsible for planning and maintaining roads, protecting the environment, parks and other natural resources, capital improvement projects, land development review and permits and floodplain management in unincorporated areas (meaning outside of city limits). The LWTP will identify priorities for development and conservation, and partnerships with other agencies as well as public and private individuals.