LISD hosts public forum regarding second access road
By CASSIE MCKEE
Four Points News
After two years of waiting on a response from the federal government, members of the Four Points Traffic Committee have initiated a new strategy in the effort to build a secondary access road to Vandegrift High School and Four Points Middle School, according to Pam Waggoner, vice president of Leander ISD Board of Trustees and founder of the FPTC. She said the community will play a crucial role in the effort.
“The next and most important piece of this is the community,” Waggoner said.
LISD hosted a public forum for the community regarding the construction of a second access road on May 30 at 6:30 p.m. at VHS. At the meeting, district officials were scheduled to share the history of construction of the two campuses, safety concerns and traffic congestion in the area, along with next steps for obtaining federal approval for the project.
“There’s a lot of new residents in this area,” Waggoner said. “They don’t know the history of the Four Points area. It’s a way to bring new residents up to speed.”
A few months ago, Waggoner said, the FPTC decided it was time to take action and begin a new strategy after not getting a response on its application for an Endangered Species Act permit from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife. The permit is necessary because the vicinity is occupied by certain species listed as threatened or endangered under the federal Endangered Species Act.
“They won’t respond to it,” Waggoner said. “When they respond, they ask additional questions. We’ve given them all the information, including all the studies, and they still won’t accept the application or deny the application; they just stall. We’re going on two years here.”
The access road, which has been called the “Road to Vandegrift,” would serve as an emergency evacuation route to and from the campuses. The proposed road would be built along an existing infrastructure corridor that borders the Balcones Canyonlands Preserve and would sit on a portion of the Balcones Canyonlands Conservation Plan.
“We were told to sit back and wait for so long,” Waggoner said. “We did that and (now) people have forgotten about what we’re doing.”
With a new administration in the White House, the committee decided it was time to re-engage the community and begin working with federal representatives in Washington, D.C., specifically U.S. Rep. John Carter and U.S. Rep. Roger Williams.
“We have a much better chance under this administration of moving forward than we had under the past administration,” Waggoner said.
The committee also hired a lobbying firm to help with its messaging and has met with the Texas state delegation.
“We got some of the local representatives to contact the federal representatives in support of project,” Waggoner said.
Waggoner said many local leaders have sent letters to Washington, and after letters are sent to the federal delegation, local community leaders plan to travel to Washington D.C. for face to face meetings.
Now the next piece of the puzzle is to educate the community about why the road is necessary and give ways to help with the effort. That was the reason to hold the public forum this week.
She said the community can play an important role in contacting their federal representatives and getting the message out on social media.
“There’s no reason for it not to be done,” Waggoner said. “That road is sitting right there with a residential neighborhood right next to it. There’s no reason we can’t improve this road, protect the environment and ensure the safety of our children.”
Next week’s edition of Four Points News will have a recap of the May 30 public forum.