District 47 rep-elect talks traffic, roads

Vikki Goodwin won the District 47 race last week.

Goodwin unseats three-term incumbent Workman

By LESLEE BASSMAN, Four Points News

Democrat Vikki Goodwin unseated state Rep. Paul Workman, R-Spicewood, who has been in office since 2011, to head up District 47 — a constituency that includes residents of River Place, Steiner Ranch and Volente. Goodwin has vowed to try to put pressure on the Texas Department of Transportation, the state agency that owns RM 620, to move forward with projects aimed at relieving the road’s severe congestion.

“I know that (RM 620) is a huge issue as I went through Steiner Ranch repeatedly,” Goodwin said. “There’s a long history of trying to improve (RM) 620 and the reason it’s been taking so long is because it is so far behind. It will take more than just a lane added in each direction to relieve traffic.”

Like many western Travis County residents, Carl Dodd said the congestion on RM 620 has long been his biggest issue with living in the area. He and his wife relocated to Steiner Ranch in 2017 after living in northwest Austin for years and commuting on RM 620 to visit their grandchildren who live in the neighborhood.

“That’s why we moved out here to Bell Steiner (Ranch Apartments),” Dodd said. “We were coming out here and it was like 30-45 minutes (travel time) each way, depending on traffic. And, it shouldn’t have been that long. I wore out a car doing that for a few years so we moved.”

He said he would take RM 2769 at Anderson Mill, circle around toward Volente and up Bullick Hollow Road just to avoid riding on RM 620.

“That’s more distance,” Dodd said of the circuitous route. “One way or another, (the drive) is going to get you. You either put a lot of miles on (your car) or you take forever.”

Goodwin says she wants to help fix the traffic issues.

She said if TxDOT moves forward with its proposed toll road project that includes adding a possible upper deck to the stretch of RM 620 from Four Points to Hwy. 183, “it will take an extraordinary amount of money,” slowing the improvement process even more.

Goodwin said she plans to reach out to the department to catch up on the roadway situation in the area and will “hopefully put some pressure on TxDOT and the different entities that are working on it to get things moving forward.”

Citing her own Shady Hollow neighborhood, Goodwin said she has worked to improve travel conditions by getting a road built in the area of the Southwest Austin development, despite pushback from environmental groups.

“It’s still frustrating,” she said of the experience. “I know that Austin, in general, has been behind in our infrastructure needs so I hope to help with that.”

Goodwin will be sworn into office Jan. 8 and has already discussed the Four Points traffic issues with community leaders including Brian Thompto, chairman of the Steiner Ranch Neighborhood Association. She said she will either attend meetings that are already scheduled by area groups or will setup town hall-type meetings of her own.

“In my conversation with Representative-elect Goodwin, we talked about the urgency for additional improvements on RM 620 and RM 2222,” Thompto said. “She seemed very sympathetic to these issues. I’m optimistic that Representative-elect Goodwin will pick up the mantle of leadership on (these roadway) issues and work together with TxDOT and other elected officials.”

He said Workman worked very closely with TxDOT advocating on behalf of Four Points residents and “we are thankful for his years of service to the community.”

Pamela Waggoner, trustee on the Leander ISD board, is also the founder of the Four Points Traffic Committee, a group whose members support adding a secondary private access road from LISD’s Vandegrift High and Four Points Middle schools campus to River Place Boulevard. The purpose of the road is to promote the safe entry and exit of students and staff as well as emergency vehicles, she said.

Although the schools and the proposed access road are in District 48 that is governed by state Rep. Donna Howard, D-Austin, Waggoner said “it is all related (traffic-wise).”

“I’m looking forward to working with (Goodwin) and I’m sure the staff is looking forward to working with her and updating her on the project,” Waggoner said.

According to Waggoner, the committee is currently awaiting a permit from the regional office of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Department to construct the road.

Like most residents, Steiner Ranch resident Carl Dodd said RM 620 is a big problem for Four Points travelers. He said he has even driven the back way, down RM 2760 toward Volente and back up Bullick Hollow Road to get to his neighborhood. LESLEE BASSMAN

Representative-elect Vikki Goodwin said she plans to hopefully put some pressure on state and local transportation agencies to move Four Points projects forward. This photograph was taken at 1:30 p.m. on Nov. 9, outside of normal rush hour peak traffic times.