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ENVIRONMENTAL
WORKSHOP RECAP

On Thursday, June 23, 2016, the Texas Department of Transportation and the Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority held an Environmental Workshop. Over 50 members of the public attended and received an update on the science and studies that have informed the project over the last eight months. A presentation on the preliminary results of the tree survey was also provided. In addition, attendees participated in an activity that prioritized funding aesthetic components, including types of trees to be planted, tree relocation possibilities, bike and pedestrian amenities, hardscapes, and areas for wildflowers and native grasses.

The project team would like to also thank Michael Embesi, an arborist with the city of Austin, for sharing information about the opportunities for tree plantings and tree relocation as part of roadway projects.

Please note that the information presented at last week’s workshop has been posted to the project website.
  

HERE'S A QUICK RECAP OF WHAT WE HEARD FROM YOU:

Many thanks to those who joined us last week! We appreciate your valuable input.
 

SCIENCE AND STUDIES

  • Concern about construction including  noise, increased congestion, impacts to businesses 
  • Interest in sound walls if noise abatement is needed and interest in Permeable Friction Course (PFC) asphalt for noise reduction
  • Interest in water quality and potential impacts to Williamson Creek
  • Concern about new development in the area and its impact on already congested roads, especially on US 290 and SH 71
  • Concerns about air quality impacts both during construction and operation of the facility

TREES AND AESTHETICS PRIORITY EXERCISE

  • Request for more detailed information about trees impacts
  • Interest in:
    • Saving more of the larger oaks in the corridor, especially grove at Joe Tanner area, either through design revision or relocation
    • Planting new trees (larger sized ones) and landscaping
    • Bicycle/pedestrian enhancements
  • Varied interest overall across all attendees in the prioritization of tree relocation vs. tree planting vs. bicycle/pedestrian enhancements; no clear top priority

DESIGN/OTHER

  • Concern regarding elevated structures and preference for smaller footprint
  • Interest in other financing mechanisms than toll financing
  • General support for the project
We will soon have a meeting summary finalized and posted online.

MISS THE MEETING?
WE NEED YOUR INPUT

The Oak Hill Parkway project team would like the aesthetics budget for the project to reflect community priorities. We hope you will take a few minutes to complete this online aesthetics prioritization exercise.

QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS

During the meeting, the project team identified four major questions that were consistently asked at the participant stations in the room. The following are our answers to those questions:

QUESTION #1:
What all goes into a noise analysis study?

As part of the environmental study, a noise analysis study is underway to determine whether traffic noise impacts would occur from proposed safety and mobility improvements along US 290 and SH 71 in Oak Hill. If so, noise reduction strategies such as sound walls or other approved sound reduction technologies would be considered.

The study is comparing the two proposed build alternatives with the baseline of a no-build alternative to determine whether traffic noise impacts would occur from the improvements. We plan to have preliminary results this fall and will provide full results at next year’s public hearing.

Sound walls are a common noise reduction technology. The Oak Hill Parkway noise study will inform the project team if and where sound walls may be needed, as well as the appropriate heights and lengths of the walls.

To determine where sound walls are reasonable and feasible, the noise analysis considers numerous factors, including:

  • Type of land use activity impacted by traffic noise (homes, schools, hotels, etc.)
  • Existing noise levels
  • Prediction of future noise levels under each reasonable alternative
  • Consideration and evaluation of abatement measures to reduce noise impacts
  • Consideration of cost and constructability of walls or other approved noise reduction technologies

To determine reasonableness, a combination of social, economic and environmental factors are evaluated, including noise reduction levels, view impacts and cost effectiveness.

To determine feasibility, topography, access requirements, drainage, utilities, maintenance and noise reduction levels are evaluated.

If the study concludes sound walls are reasonable and feasible, input from adjacent property owners would be used in making final decisions about them.

We are often asked about Permeable Friction Course (PFC) pavement in relation to noise abatement. PFC is currently being considered for the Oak Hill Parkway. PFC’s primary purpose is to facilitate faster water drainage off road surfaces to improve safety. This type of asphalt is currently being used on the MoPac Improvement Project and is planned for the SH 45SW project. This kind of pavement also generally results in lower traffic noise levels than standard pavement. However, PFC is not a federally-approved noise abatement measure and is not part of the noise analysis.

The noise analysis is being conducted in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA) and 23 CFR 772 Procedures for Abatement of Highway Traffic Noise and Construction Noise.

QUESTION #2:
What type of construction impacts should we expect?

The environmental study will include an analysis of construction impacts, including a review of impacts to noise, air, and water quality. The study will also take into account the direct, indirect, and cumulative impacts of roadway construction on the area.

If the project is approved to move forward into construction and funding is identified, a preliminary timeline follows:

  • Construction duration is between 3-4 years, and could start in 2018-2020 if funding is identified.
  • The construction contractor will be required to maintain access to all business. Any temporary closures will be coordinated with the businesses and be scheduled to occur when the business is not normally open.
  • Some construction related congestion is inevitable due to temporary lane and road closures. Most closures will be timed to occur outside of rush hour and holiday travels. A goal of the construction plan will to be to keep as many lanes open during construction as possible.

QUESTION #3:
What is the environmental impact of the no build, or do nothing, alternative?

The No Build Alternative would not allow for new travel lanes. US 290 and SH 71 would continue to exist as they do today and would continue to have standard, routine maintenance over the next 30 years. Travel times will increase approximately 25-35 minutes over today, and safety and mobility would continue to decline in the Oak Hill area as population increases. Also, the No Build assumes that all other projects in the CAMPO 2040 Plan would be constructed if environmentally cleared and funding is identified.

In the environmental study, the No Build Alternative is considered and compared against the build alternatives per federal regulations.

QUESTION #4:
Where are the lanes elevated in the two proposed build alternatives?

Both Alternatives A and C propose sections of elevated mainlanes in the US 290 corridor in order to bypass the intersections and signals at William Cannon Drive and SH 71.

For both build alternatives, the lanes are elevated:

  • On US 290 from near McCarty Ln. to SH 71
  • On SH 71 from west of Scenic Brook Dr. to US 290

At the interchange of US 290 and SH 71, the build alternatives differ:

  • For Alternative A, US 290 mainlanes are lowered
  • For Alternative C, US 290 mainlanes are elevated

Out of the eight miles of proposed roadway, US 290 will be elevated for one half-mile for Alternative A, and one mile for Alternative C. Learn more about the proposed elevated structures here.

CHECK OUT OUR
INFORMATIONAL VIDEOS!

New to the project? Get up to speed with our new Oak Hill Parkway videos! The first one features a general overview of the project and the problem we’re trying to solve.

The second and third video, each about 3 minutes long, explore the process we’ve followed to get to our two proposed build alternatives and the no build, or ‘do nothing’, alternative as well as how the community can influence the project. All three videos can be viewed here.

YOU ARE SHAPING OAK HILL PARKWAY

Your participation in the process helps us improve long-term mobility by identifying a solution that not only addresses traffic congestion, but honors the heritage of Oak Hill, respects the environment and adds value to the Oak Hill community.
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