By LYNETTE HAALAND, Four Points News
The Texas Department of Transportation hosted a groundbreaking ceremony on Wednesday for the $23.6 million RM 2222 widening project in Four Points.
Expected to be finished some 18 months from now, the widened will help improve mobility and safety.
State and local elected officials joined the TxDOT on JAN. 16 to break ground on the first of two projects to improve traffic flow on RM 2222 and RM 620 in Four Points.
The first project will add a third lane to eastbound RM 2222 from Bonaventure Drive to Sitio Del Rio Boulevard and westbound from Ribelin Ranch Drive to Sitio Del Rio Boulevard. A center median with turn lanes will also be constructed within the project limits.
A second project, expected to go out to bid this summer, will add a bypass lane from near Steiner Ranch to RM 2222.
“Combined, these design elements will reconfigure traffic movements in a more efficient way that reduces the logjam we experience daily,” Austin District Engineer Terry McCoy said. “The innovative approach to addressing congestion at this intersection allowed us to deliver these projects much faster, and at a lower cost.”
A TxDOT study shows by 2020, travel times will increase by 40 to 59 percent within the corridor from RM 620 to Ribelin Ranch Drive.
“Therefore, we need to add travel capacity to improve mobility,” McCoy said. The analysis of proposed improvements indicates the travel times today could be reduced by about 60 percent.
State Rep. Vikki Goodwin, D – House District 47, said she met a lot of people who talked about transportation and traffic issues when she campaigned.
“Our traffic issues affect our quality of life,” Goodwin said. “I am in favor of all transportation options but roads continue to play an important role.”
“These improvements are a little step but a step in the right direction,” she added.
The city of Austin teamed with TxDOT to pay for utility relocation and right-of-way acquisition. Construction costs are estimated at $17.4 million and utility costs at $6.2 million.
“TxDOT is a wonderful partner for our city and our region,” Austin Mayor Steve Adler said. “I’m proud that the city as a community stepped forward to do what other communities were doing around the state to co-invest in these projects.”
Adler said big things are happening in mobility in Austin and in the region. The city contributed money toward a project at the Y at Oak Hill that CAMPO recently approved, and also is collaborating on the project to remove all of the traffic lights on Loop 360 in the years ahead, he said.
District 10 Austin City Council member Alison Alter echoed Adler’s thoughts about pooling funds to make big projects come together. For this RM 2222 project and for the upcoming Loop 360 project, “we appreciate working with you (TxDOT) as a partner to leverage funds.”
“Mobility is a challenge in this city. There is desperate need in this area, Four Points, to relieve traffic,” Alter said. “We need to think regionally and think bigger, and this is a great step in that direction.”
District 6 Austin City Council member Jimmy Flannigan said this project is more than just relieving congestion, it is also about safety. He said he is a proponent for safety.
“This is such an exciting day for District 6, the city and for the region,” Flannigan said.
The widening of RM 2222 is expected to complete by summer 2020, weather permitting. Capital Excavation Company is the contractor.