In this stretch of RM-1826 there is no shoulder or railing on either side as it crosses the creek near the entrance to a City of Austin hiking area. At night, the road is very poorly lit with few street lights. -photo: Penny Levers
by Ann Fowler
AUSTIN – A local roadway may soon get $5 million in improvements thanks to Proposition 1, the $1.74 billion transportation ballot measure approved by voters last November. RM 1826 may soon get left-turn lanes and shoulders on a Hays County stretch from the Travis County line to Nutty Brown Road.
Christopher Bishop is with the Public Information Office of the Texas Department of Transportation’s (TxDOT) Austin District. He said his agency worked with local officials and planning organizations to identify needed projects and rank them on these primary criteria:
• Funding availability (secured funding and district cost estimates),
• Project development (readiness in terms of right-of-way, plans, environmental, etc.), and
• Satisfaction of TxDOT’s strategic goals (maintain a safe system, connect Texas communities, become a best-in-class state agency, and address congestion)
Bishop said, “We expect to award the contract in August 2015, with construction starting in winter 2015. If approved, the project would be funded with Proposition 1 dollars.” But he warned that the funded projects are subject to change—based on community input and Commission approval.
Local resident Aan Coleman said, “I’m excited to see that safety improvements are being considered. The lack of shoulders on the road and the low water crossing are obviously the two major safety concerns in this stretch.”
Coleman, an Oak Hill Association of Neighborhoods board member, has seen first-hand what a difference even small improvements can make. She calls the signal at Slaughter Lane and RM 1826 “a godsend.” She said, “It’s hard to imagine how this community functioned without it, especially now that Gorzycki [Middle School] is up and running.”
A local resident reports that two major subdivisions may soon be built in the area, and that added lanes and shoulders are critical to safety.
Bishop describes the plans for the road: “This project involves the construction of left-turn lanes and six-foot shoulders in four locations, including at Madrone Trail, Bear Creek Drive, between Kemp Hills and Bear Creek Pass, and Friendswood. There are two sections of RM 1826 where there’s an existing left-turn lane and six-foot shoulders and these locations are at Reunion Ranch and Nutty Brown Road. Also, six-foot shoulders would be provided between the gaps to ensure a consistent shoulder throughout the project limits. No low water crossings would be adjusted, at this time; however, if widened, safety end treatments and/or guardrail would be installed.”
Comments to the Proposition 1 Stakeholder Committee can be online: http://www.dot.state.tx.us/apps-cg/contact_us/form/prop1_comment.htm.