by Ann Fowler
OAK HILL – Earlier this year, the Oak Hill Association of Neighborhoods (OHAN) said they would endorse the Oak Hill Parkway if the roadway officials met ten requests. Staffers at the Oak Hill Parkway recently published a report on the fulfillment of those requests. Darryl Pruett, OHAN president, said the results were mixed. Of the ten, OHAN felt two were met, two were not, and the remaining were only partially met.
Noise Mitigation – Utilize noise reduction technologies including low noise surface.
The report said a noise study is being done but would not guarantee that a sound wall would be used. Mindful of the noise-producing pavement used by the Texas Department of Transportation on local roadways, the group asked that Permeable Friction Course (FPC) pavement be considered.
The report said, “Although PFC generally results in lower traffic noise levels than standard pavement, it is not an FHWA approved noise abatement measure and is not part of the noise analysis.”
Pruett said, “We reviewed what they said they had done. My feeling was they said, ‘We’ll comply with the law.’ As a committee we did not feel they have met that criteria at this time.”
Elevation – Eliminate or minimize elevation using modern technology and creative design
The report said that elevations have been minimized. However, according to Pruett, the report says the height of the flyover at the ‘Y’ would be 34 feet above existing ground, with an average height of 25 feet. Pruett said his recollection from previous meetings was that the height would be 25 feet, so he felt this did not meet the criteria.
Water Quality – Proposed water quality and flood control infrastructure should be sufficient for regional use, including improvements for existing commercial properties. TxDOT’s newly installed flood control infrastructure as part of the interim intersection improvements should mitigate downstream flooding.
The report points out that no or few water quality measures existed when the roadway was originally built and mentioned a number of water quality protections to be included.
Pruett said this request was met.
Access – Incorporate efficient and convenient entrances and exits for all existing Oak Hill neighborhoods and businesses so they can reach destinations within and outside of Oak Hill.
The report says that every street with current access to U.S. 290 West of S.H. 71 will continue to have access. All major intersections – except U.S. 290 and Circle Drive – will have ‘Texas U-Turns.’
Pruett said this request was met.
Neighborhood Impact – Eliminate or reduce non-local neighborhood cut-through traffic by using progressive design and technology.
The report shared the cut-throughs currently used by commuters, but had no specifics on eliminating or reducing them. The report said the increased capacity of the roadways would keep people from cut-throughs.
Without specifics, OHAN felt this was partially met.
Connectivity – Employ a design that makes traveling on local streets convenient and efficient for Oak Hill residents. Separate local traffic from high-speed traffic.
While the report said other Austin area tollroads have seen a 36 percent and 25 percent traffic reduction from the non-tolled lanes. The report did not address the connectivity of getting across the highways. OHAN felt this information only partially met the request.
Flow – Incorporate innovative technology and design to create efficient intersections that promote traffic flow.
The report says an innovative Single Point Urban Intersection will be used at the ‘Y.’ OHAN would like more specific information on the design, so said this was only partially met.
Context Sensitivity – A project design that protects, reclaims, preserves and restores the natural beauty, wildscapes, history and culture of Oak Hill. Preserve existing and historic trees, groves, bluffs, native vegetation, historic sites and buildings.
While the report mentions a recent meeting to gather stakeholder information to accomplish this, it was short on specifics. OHAN considers this partially met.
Funding Option – Designs that consider all non-tolled funding opportunities available.
The report suggests that if the project were not tolled, ‘there would be a less than 1 percent decrease in the overall amount of concrete pavement required…” The report needs to back this statement up with more facts as readers wonder how removing the duplication of tolled/non-tolled lanes could lead to so little savings in pavement.
OHAN would like to know why roadway officials believe this has to be such a large roadway. Lacking details, this was marked partially met.
Future Transportation Options – Allow future additions of park-and-ride facilities, convenient and increased access to bus, car and van pooling and other public transportation options.
Pruett said, “We felt like we need more information.” As there were not enough specifics. This was marked partially met.
Ultimately Pruett felt the group needs additional information on many of the specifics officials plan for the roadway.