RM 620 north improvements needed, Residents asked to urge funding

Local residents are asked to contact CAMPO this week about improving the four-lane flush median RM 620 north to a six-lane raised median divided highway.
Source: Texas Department of Transportation

By LYNETTE HAALAND, Four Points News

The northern half of RM 620 — the most highly congested and heavily traveled 18.8 miles of the road from Mansfield Dam to Hwy. 183 — is not on the list for the next round of Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization projects.  

“This is so important, it cannot be over-emphasized. We cannot wait any more,” said Brian Thompto, chairman of the Steiner Ranch Neighborhood Association.

Thompto and other local leaders including Scott Crosby, River Place HOA president, Morgan Briscoe, West Austin Chamber of Commerce president, and Randy Lawson, Canyon Creek neighborhood board member — went to the CAMPO meeting on April 9 and urged the transportation board to put northern RM 620 improvements on their list of projects.

These local neighborhoods are working together with a unified voice, especially since it was discovered a few weeks ago that the northern part of RM 620 was not on the list of the next round of CAMPO projects. For many who travel on RM 620 north, it is their only way in and out of the area.

“Right now other projects are being funded that don’t have the congestion like 620,” Thompto said. “They need to treat this with utmost urgency.”

The CAMPO board has almost $450 million in state and federal money to allocate on transportation in Central Texas. On May 7, CAMPO is scheduled to make its final decision and RM 620 north is not on its list. But more than 50 other projects are on the list, including $59 million to widen five-lane RM 620 south for a stretch from Texas 71 to north of Lakeway.

The southern portion of the RM 620 project has been prioritized by TxDOT and is on the CAMPO funding proposal for 2022. For that project, $59 million is earmarked from CAMPO, $39 million coming from TxDOT funds and $5 million each from the City of Lakeway and the City of Bee Cave.  

The proposed improvement from Hwy. 183 to Mansfield Dam on the northern end of RM 620 has no local funding partner for TxDOT, and is not currently on the proposed projects list for CAMPO.

This northern segment is multi-jurisdictional including the City of Austin, Travis County, the City of Cedar Park, and Williamson County. Many parties could contribute to partner with TxDOT and CAMPO to fund this project, Thompto said, since TxDOT prioritizes based on partner funding.

TxDOT officials said: “As for the northern segment, there have been no strong indications of support or commitments from the local entities as compared to the southern segment, therefore, there are no plans at this time to advance the northern segment beyond the feasibility study. The northern 6-lane divided section is currently estimated at $121 million.”

Need for RM 620 north improvement

RM 620 north was cited in the CAMPO 2015 regional study as the number one road having major traffic problems in both Travis and Williamson counties by CAMPO survey respondents in 2015.

If RM 620 north improvements do not get done, RM 620 will continue to be in a “failing state” based on TxDOT’s level of service measure, Thompto said. This is even after the already funded bypass improvements at the RM 620/RM 2222 intersection are completed in 2020.

“We are improving a path down 2222, we are improving the 2222 bottleneck but 620 in itself is a bottleneck,” Thompto said. “Just fixing that intersection is not going fix our problem.”

The forecast for the RM 620 north corridor is to get much worse in the years ahead, according to the TxDOT RM 620 Corridor Study that was concluded in 2017.

The study says: “The main improvement — constructing a raised median along the entire length of RM 620 and widening from four lanes to six lanes from SH 71 to Lakeway Boulevard and Quinlan Park Road to US 183 — would substantially reduce delay and improve safety by reducing conflict points along the corridor”  

Call to action

“If folks can take five minutes of their time now to provide input on the pain they feel today, take the time to ask for important improvements… that will save their family hours of time every week in the future,” Thompto said.

Local residents need to ask CAMPO for prioritization of improving RM 620 into a divided, 6-lane highway north of Mansfield Dam to Hwy. 183, he said.

Local residents need to contact the local representatives about “the criticality of partnering to provide funding” for RM 620 improvements from Hwy. 183 to Mansfield Dam, Thompto said.

Thompto stresses that this is the week to let representatives hear from local residents. This is critical, he says, to get feedback to representatives so they have it in time to compile before the May 7 meeting.  

“Politicians are making decisions (now, this week). On May 7, they bring in what they’ve decided,” Thompto said.

“We need to email and contact local representatives to work on solutions to prioritize and expedite plans,” Thompto said. “We need local representatives to work with TxDOT to put together funding for this.”

Local advocates work together to highlight the urgency of getting northern RM 620 improvements into the next round of CAMPO projects. L-R Morgan Briscoe, West Austin Chamber of Commerce, Randy Lawson, Canyon Creek, Brian Thompto, Steiner Ranch Neighborhood Association, and Scott Crosby, River Place HOA.

Government contacts with jurisdiction along RM 620 north:

Steve Adler, Vice Chair, City of Austin Mayor 512.978.2100 steve.adler@austintexas.gov

Jimmy Flannigan, City of Austin Council Member District 6 512.978.2106 jimmy.flannigan@austintexas.gov

Alison Alter, City of Austin Council Member District 10 512.978.2110 alison.alter@austintexas.gov

Ann Kitchen, City of Austin Council Member District 5 512.978.2105 ann.kitchen@austintexas.gov

Matt Powell, City of Cedar Park Mayor 512.401.5000 mayorpowell@cedarparktexas.gov

Sarah Eckhardt, Travis County Judge 512.854.9555 sarah.eckhardt@traviscountytx.gov

Gerald Daugherty, Travis County Commissioner Precinct 3 512.854.9333 gerald.daugherty@traviscountytx.gov

Brigid Shea, Travis County Commissioner Precinct 2 512.854.9222 brigid.shea@traviscountytx.gov

Jeff Travillion, Travis County Commissioner Precinct 1 512.854.9111 jeffrey.travillion@traviscounty.gov

Cynthia Long, Williamson County Commissioner Precinct 2 512.260.4280 clong@wilco.org