Emergency-only route B in preliminary design phase

In July, Travis County commissioners voted to create route B as an emergency-only, evacuation route between Steiner Ranch and Montview. The project is now in the preliminary design phase. TRAVIS COUNTY

By LYNETTE HAALAND , Four Points News

Travis County is in the preliminary design phase with the near-$1 million route B evacuation project which will run between the Steiner Ranch and Montview communities. Travis County Commissioners Court approved moving forward with the gated, emergency-only road on July 9. 

“Our first step is to perform an on-the-ground survey of the route alignment,” said Kathy Hardin, an engineer with Travis County Transportation & Natural Resources Capital Improvement Projects.

Surveyors worked on the project this week (Sept. 30 – Oct. 4)in the area of the route.

“With the survey information, the consultant, M&S, will commence design of the most feasible means to get from Flat Top Ranch Road to Montview Drive,” Hardin said. 

The project, which is officially still in the preliminary design phase, is estimated to cost $980,000 and is to be completed by summer 2021.

Data indicates that evacuation capacity is 750 vehicles per hour using one lane for exiting traffic only.

Travis County states on its website that Route B is viable but less effective for evacuation when compared to route F, which was the county’s recommended route for some nine months. Route F  was to be a much longer, $7.2 million permanent road connecting Steiner to RM 620 through mostly green space.

“Route B will function as a one lane route due to existing road width, turns, and adjacent development. This will reduce flexibility, and the volume of inbound or outbound evacuation traffic,” according to the website. “Route B is (a) lower cost and can be built in a shorter time frame. Route B will not be open to everyday traffic, and will be closed and gated until first responders deem an evacuation route is needed.” 

Route B was chosen and voted on over the summer due to Travis County’s current funding constraints. Route B can be completed with existing funds in place, according to county officials.

Hardin said that the county anticipates meetings with neighborhoods and Steiner Ranch HOAs but dates are not yet established.  

“At the neighborhood meeting, we will present the proposed route and look for ways to lessen impacts the neighborhood may perceive,” Hardin said. 

After the neighborhood meeting, and processing of feedback, Travis County will direct M&S Engineering LLC to formalize the design. 

Travis County will be open to another meeting to present the route design to the neighborhoods. This meeting would probably occur after January 2020, Hardin said.