By CASSIE MCKEE, Four Points News
Travis County and the Texas Department of Transportation are ready to “fast track” plans for a new full-purpose traffic signal at the intersection of Steiner Ranch Boulevard and RM 620, according to a May 6 email sent by TxDOT project manager Bruce Byron to Brian Thompto, chairman of the Steiner Ranch Neighborhood Association.
“Due to heavy traffic on RM 620 during peak hours, Travis County contacted TxDOT to see how we could improve operations at this location,” said Kelli Reyna, public information officer for TxDOT. “After looking at a myriad of different options, it was determined that a traffic signal was the best solution.”
In his email, Byron said the redesigned, full-purpose traffic signal would cost approximately $250,000; however, Reyna said that number could not be confirmed until a funding agreement is put into place.
“There is the possibility that changes to this dollar amount could be made, so I can’t confirm how much the project would cost until we have the funding agreement in place,” Reyna said.
The Steiner Ranch Transportation Committee has been working with the county and TxDOT on the proposal.
“The project came about because of the danger in trying to turn left from Steiner Ranch Blvd onto 620, especially at night,” said William Farrell, who serves on the committee.
The project faces several challenges including environmental karst features in the area and proposed development, Reyna said. She said the traffic signal is only coincidentally related to the nearby retail site that will feature SouthStar Bank, as it was conceived before the retail development.
“The biggest challenge is going to be timing the light to properly coincide with the light at Comanche Trail,” said Farrell, a Steiner resident.
While Farrell said he is hopeful that construction on the signal could begin by the end of the year, he said a timeline is not yet clear.
Reyna said a timeline is also dependent on a funding agreement.
“The timeline is not available until a funding agreement is reached,” Reyna said. “On average, it takes about six months to design and build a signal, but it can’t begin until there’s a funding agreement in place.”
Four Points connector road update
One of the challenges when designing plans for the new traffic signal is making sure it fits into plans for the proposed connector road for RM 620 and RM 2222.
“We had to ensure we coordinated the design of this signal with that of the RM 2222/RM 620 bypass effort, which requires restriping the existing RM 620 pavement to handle another northbound lane,” Reyna said.
The Four Points connector project would create a new bypass road for the RM 620/RM 2222 intersection. Byron told Four Points News in January that the connector project is a high priority for TxDOT.
“It would make a significant difference in the effectiveness of the 620/2222 intersection performance,” Byron said.
A TxDOT rendering of the signal also shows a concrete median that will be constructed after the signal is installed as part of the proposed bypass project.
The bypass project would also include the creation of an additional left-turn lane at RM 2222 and McNeil Drive and additional through lanes at RM 2222 and River Place Boulevard. Byron said the bypass project is currently in the environmental review process and no construction funding has yet been identified.
Reyna said TxDOT hopes to receive an environmental decision in summer 2017 and will then begin working to acquire any necessary right-of-way.
“Our goal is to have the project ready to go out to bid in summer 2018, with construction starting later that year,” Reyna said.