From Steiner Ranch Neighborhood Association’s chairman Brian Thompto
1st week of June – CAMPO Funding for RM620 / Anderson Mill Rd overpass:
Things took a bad turn this week as CAMPO released an updated ‘scenario” list which abandons the scoring criteria they had agreed on and the “Ranking list” from May 27th which had included Anderson Mill and RM620 (we were excited to see that good score come in and thoght this should be good news). The new “June 1 scenarios A-C” instead go back to tweaking their original list and leaves the 620 / Anderson Mill Rd. overpass off the list to maintain funding.
Note that the 620 / Anderson Mill intersection overpass was the #1 roadway in consideration on the score based “ranking list” and costs $25 million, but is now proposed to be passed up for $172 million worth of other projects that scored (often significantly) lower.
What to do – let CAMPO hear you! The vote is Monday June 8th: http://steinerranchna.org/campo-ih35-funding-rm620-impacts/
Email Entire CAMPO Board
Email Individual CAMPO Board Member(s)
Take a look at the picture of cat 7 projects sorted by evaluation score (highest on top):
Key for the image:
* Green colors are part of latest CAMPO June 1 scenario a-c recommendations; light green are non- road projects; dark green are roads.
* Red-ish, brown-ish were projects in the May 27 Rank / score based list but are no longer recommended. Note the lighter colors are not roadways – only the Anderson Mill / 620 is a roadway construction project which is now exclude but made the score based cut.
* Grey are out of consideration for other reasons
Note this is just a sorted and colorized version of CAMPO’s posted deck here: https://www.campotexas.org/resource-catego…/meeting-agendas/ under “June 2020”
The 620 corridor is already expected to suffer continued growth through 2024 – the current let date for the Anderson Mill overpass project. Any delay beyond that will be more than painful. A project with a similar time-frame is the $75 million to fund frontage roads on toll 183a between Avery Ranch Rd. and 1431 – which somehow made the list ahead of 620 / Anderson Mill and over a dozen other projects totaling another $100 million. Let date should not be the dominant decision factor here if within the funding window (which goes through 2024 already). These lower scored projects should not all jump in line in front of the top road on the list – none of these are comparable with the 620 / Anderson Mill as far as addressing current traffic backups, safety, evacuation issues and lacking alternatives.
620 at Anderson Mill also has major safety issues as it is the ONLY north-south corridor in the the West Austin metro west of 360. That means NO alternatives and it means emergency responders can’t reach people in time when traffic is frequently grid-locked. RM620 is also right in the middle of the brightest standout wildfire risk corridor in the region and is the only major evacuation route for 10’s of thousands in the event of major fire event – which Austin is assessed as the #5 at risk for nationally as a city. These safety issues are real and scary to imagine not getting fixed for years to come. These stack on top of the existing delays and level “F” intersection ratings are only getting worse with continued growth. (see fire risk map here: http://steinerranchna.org/campo-ih35-funding-rm620-impacts/). Also note that RM620 has consistently topped all requests from citizens in the CAMPO region for many years. Anderson Mill & 620 is in a multi-jurisdictional area (literally splits cities and counties), so it also doesn’t have a motivating “partner funding” arrangement from a single local entity – that shouldn’t be held against it but seems to be part the consideration from CAMPO.
Note that all projects on the CAMPO list are worth doing – they wouldn’t be on the list otherwise – but when we have limited resources we need to triage the most urgent projects and give them the highest priority for funding. That is exactly what CAMPO is doing w/ IH-35 (and why they are taking $633 million from previously funded projects) and it is what should happen here as well for 620 for the betterment of the region. note that CAMPO policy board members acknowledged that roadway importance was critical and before making a decision they held off the vote on the project list for month so they could score projects. Now that 620 / Anderson Mill is the #1 scored road project on the list under consideration it is hard to understand why CAMPO would now go back to ignoring road importance and priority and make it the only “Ranked list’ road not to be included in their updated scenario proposals.
Also note if federal dollars from stimulus come in, then the lower priority but shovel-ready projects can always be funded at that time – since these funds typically favor quick start projects for stimulus. That is quite different than strict priority funding which must ensure the most important projects like 620 will get done with the money in the budget.