By KIM ESTES, Four Points News
Travis County Commissioners recently approved a long-range plan called the Land, Water and Transportation Plan identifying transportation corridor improvements as the best way to provide future support to the Four Points area.
Travis County’s Transportation and Natural Resources Department set out to create a blueprint balancing development, including activity centers and transportation corridors, with land conservation, including conservation areas and river and creek corridors.
A dozen Four Points area residents attended a meeting about the proposed LWTP last fall at Vandegrift High School. Also, in an online survey for public input, 190 responders identified themselves as residents of Steiner Ranch, River Place, or Four Points. There were a total of 1,223 survey responses, according to the LWTP Public Engagement Report.
During the September presentation, Charlie Watts, TNR Development and Transportation planning project manager, said there are significant challenges in western Travis County with regards to building new roads, meaning it would 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.”
That, indeed, is the emphasis in the adopted LWTP.
“The plan supports transportation corridor improvements in western Travis County. We are looking to invest in improvements for better connectivity through all transportation modes: car, pedestrian, bicycle and transit,” Watts said.
In December, commissioners approved TNR’s recommendation to undertake the planning effort because of population growth occurring in the county’s jurisdiction and the corresponding impact on demand for services.
If current trends continue, many of the estimated 1.5 million people residing in Travis County by 2035 will have settled on the fringe of existing urban areas and many will reside in unincorporated areas. The goal of the LWTP is to “minimize conventional urban sprawl and encourage an alternative pattern of development.”
Watts noted that the LWTP is a framework only. It is a strategy to be approached on a project basis, he says.
Wendy Scaperotta, TNR Land Conservation planning project manager, further elaborated on future use of the LWTP. “The plan will be used to set priorities for capital improvement programs and transportation, and to guide where the county invests funds – including bond referendums which would be approved by voters. It will also be used to set the County’s legislative agenda lobbied for in the State and to prioritize budget decisions.”
In addition to the public meeting in Four Points, TNR held meetings in six other Travis County areas and staff members attended 15 community meetings with organizations such as chambers of commerce, service clubs and neighborhood groups. Conventional media and social media were also used to increase public awareness and involvement in the LWTP.
Watts said information and notices on the LWTP are available to residents by contacting TNR at Melissa.email@example.com.