Community speaks at TxDOT public hearing last week

TxDOT brought RM 620/RM 2222 bypass maps to last week’s meeting.

  • Members of the community talked with Texas Department of Transportation offcials about the proposed RM
    2222/RM 620 bypass plans.

    TxDOT brought RM 620/RM 2222 maps, drawings and other project information for the public to study during
    the open house.





By LYNETTE HAALAND, Four Points News

Nearly 200 attendees turned out for the Texas Department of Transportation open house and public hearing on Oct. 26 to see maps and hear plans about the proposed bypass road and other mobility improvements to RM 2222 and RM 620.

At the meeting, which was held at Vandegrift High School, there were 187 attendees, 22 TxDOT staff members and three elected officials: Texas Rep. Paul Workman (HD-47), Brigid Shea, Travis County Commissioner Precinct 2, and City Council Member Jimmy Flannigan, District 6.

There were environmental documents, maps, drawings and other project information visible for the public to study during the open house (available at TxDOT website). After that, there was a presentation by TxDOT detailing the scope of the project. There were 15 verbal comments given at the hearing portion of the meeting, and 35 written comments taken that night.

“This project is needed because the existing capacity of RM 2222 and RM 620 at the RM 620/RM 2222/Bullick Hollow Road intersection is inadequate to meet current and future traffic volumes, resulting in congestion and reduced mobility on these sections of roadway,” said Diann Hodges, TxDOT Austin District public information officer.

The purpose of the $18 million project is to improve safety and mobility. The need for the project arises from increasing population and employment growth in northern Travis County, which has led to traffic congestion in the corridor, Hodges said.

Public comments

“We stand behind this project,” said Robert Abbott, Lake Travis Fire Rescue chief. He cited the ability to get to accidents by 10 to 15 minutes sooner with the road improvements.

Roy Whaley spoke on behalf of the National Sierra Club in Austin and encouraged TxDOT to look into diverting water flow from the bypass to protect environmental cave entrances. He also suggested to put a vegetative strip on one side to catch water, and he mentioned sound abatement may be as simple as a row of trees.

“We’ve got more people coming here all the time, we need to have an overpass. We need traffic to get over and not have to stop all of the time,” said Glenn Borkland, of Heritage Body and Frame shop who has seen the changes in Austin going on  for decades.

“We offer very strong support of this project for students, parents,  teachers and commuters to get through that intersection,” said Brian Thompto, Steiner Ranch Neighborhood Association chairman.  “These improvements are absolutely going to be used. I ask that you do the projects rapidly and with the latest technology.”

“We need increased access to students and first responders. We ask that you please move forward with project as soon as possible,” said Megan Henry, Vandegrift freshman, Caitlin Henry, 6th grader at Canyon Ridge Middle School, and a friend.

“It’s a good start… but it’s just a Band-aid, it’s not adding lanes to 620,” said another community member who spoke. “Two high speed lanes coming closer together will have more accidents.”

Jeremy London drives on RM 2222 frequently and shared that he thinks “our priorities should be on solving the problems instead of moving it around.”

Gloria Gonzales of River Place spoke as a Leander ISD parent. “I appreciate you looking into the area and address the traffic to and from our schools during the construction.”

Bypass, road improvement plans

Project 1 of the plans call for adding a through-travel lane eastbound from Bonaventure to Sitio Del Rio Boulevard and westbound from Ribelin Ranch Drive to Sitio Del Rio Boulevard. Turn lanes and raised medians would be built within the project limits.

Project 2 plans call for a new three-lane roadway connecting RM 2222 to RM 620 a half-mile south of the RM 620/RM 2222 Bullick Hollow Road intersection. Plans also call for an outside merge lane along RM 620 from Steiner Ranch Road to the proposed bypass road. Center-turn lanes and medians would also be built on RM 2222 between the new bypass road and RM 620.

Project 2, which was the only portion the public meeting detailed, will require approximately 5.4 acres of right of way from three property owners, and 2.3 acres of right of way would be required along RM 2222.

Written comments must be received by Friday, Nov. 10, 2017 to be included in the public record and can be mailed to TxDOT Austin District Office, Attention RM 2222/RM 620 PH Comment, at P.O. Box 15426, Austin, TX 78761.