By LYNETTE HAALAND, Four Points News
The emergency-only evacuation road known as route B is still in the design phase. The pandemic has affected the Travis County project which will connect Steiner Ranch and Montview. The timing has been delayed and the price of the project has gone up but by mid next year, the road should be completed.
“We are in the design phase,” said Kathy Hardin, senior engineer with Travis County Transportation & Natural Resources Public Works. “We anticipate the design phase wrapping up from December 2021 to early 2022. Construction will commence approximately four months after we complete the design, from late spring 2022 to summer 2022.”
The current construction estimate at 60% design phase is $1.4 M with a contingency of 10%, Hardin added.
A year ago, the project was estimated to start by mid-2021 and be completed by the beginning of 2022. The project last fall was estimated to cost less than $1 million.
“While the most expeditious option of the routes we looked at, route B had its fair share of obstacles,” Hardin said. “The design firm had a change in staffing and we needed to move to another firm. That paperwork, as you can imagine, took time. The firm on board, LAN, is pressing forward with the design. That effort should be wrapped up in December 2021.”
Hardin also explained that costs are rising for construction in general and the unexpected topography challenges have added to the cost of this road.
“Costs for materials, equipment, and labor associated with any construction type of work have increased dramatically when compared to pre-COVID costs,” she said.
“Additionally, we did not have on the ground topographical information for route B until design started. To have the appropriate layout for roadway safety, we moved the alignment south and increased the curve radius entering the Montview Drive property. In addition, retaining walls are required to maintain safe roadway grades increasing construction costs,” Hardin said.
Route B will connect Flat Top Ranch Road to Montview Drive. The road includes a 20-foot wide paved road with 2-foot shoulders.
Route B will not be open to everyday traffic, and will be closed and gated until first responders deem an evacuation route is needed. The gates will be manually opened by first responders in an emergency.
Travis County plans to use construction materials around the gate areas that are aesthetically similar to Steiner’s.
There will be signs indicating the route is not for public use.
LAN is the design firm and Steve Widacki is the consultant project manager.