Public shaping vision for the oak hill parkway
"Improved mobility along US 290/SH 71 West in Oak Hill should be accomplished while minimizing the height and width of any future roadway, protecting the environment and enhancing bicycle and pedestrian safety."
"Better transit options, access to neighborhoods and businesses and maintaining connections within the community are also important."
These are just a few of the public input highlights received since the Oak Hill Parkway Environmental Study was kicked off last fall. The study is looking at finding long-term mobility and safety solutions for the heavily congested US 290/SH 71 West corridor.
Nearly 150 people have participated in various meetings to provide input about the study since it began last October. A public scoping meeting was held on November 15th
to initiate public involvement in the environmental process, and workgroup meetings have been held to discuss environmental, design and bicycle/pedestrian issues. We also continue to work with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, City of Austin, Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization and other interested parties to receive input on possible solutions.
“We are listening and learning from neighbors and motorists who live and travel in the area,” said James Williams, P.E., Project Manager for the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT). TxDOT is working with the Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority (Mobility Authority) to complete the environmental study.
“What we’re hearing is there is a need for relief from highway gridlock through Oak Hill,” said Sean Beal, P.E., Engineering Manager for the Mobility Authority. “But nearby residents and drivers value their community and its natural resources, so we’re looking at mobility improvements that compliment the community.”
Improvement concepts – still a work in progress – will be developed and refined through continued public involvement. The viability of several different alternatives, including a no-build alternative, will be analyzed. Input from the public will be critical in deciding what, if any improvements, should be implemented.
Since the initial open house last fall, citizens have participated in three workgroup meetings with TxDOT and the Mobility Authority to discuss environmental, design and bike/pedestrian issues.
An Environmental Workgroup convened on January 31st to ensure the study team understood community concerns and ideas regarding water quality, flood plains, trees and vegetation, historical, cultural and other environmental issues.
Participants stressed the importance of several issues, including:
Preserving historic resources and oaks along the corridor
Effective water quality measures and protecting and enhancing Williamson Creek
Aesthetically pleasing design that includes noise minimizing strategies such as special pavement materials
Preventing additional light pollution and addressing greenhouse gas emissions
A Design Workgroup meeting was held on February 19th to hear community ideas and gather input for alternative design concepts.
Participants suggested limiting the height of any future roadway improvements and depressing portions of US 290, starting at the “Y” intersection with SH 71 and moving west. Other suggestions included building William Cannon over US 290, separating through traffic from local traffic, maintaining a narrow roadway footprint, improving access to businesses and including green space in the design. The Oak Hill Parkway team was also asked to consider a boulevard or parkway design with limited or no frontage roads, tolling through traffic (but not local traffic) and including transit in long-range planning.
On March 19th, the Oak Hill bike and pedestrian community and the City of Austin identified potential trail and path locations and shared connectivity priorities. A presentation from the Oak Hill Trails Association highlighted current plans for the “Y” to Barton Creek (YBC) Trail, Williamson Creek Trail, Violet Crown Trail and several other spurs to those trails.
Safety is a top priority for this group. They stressed separating bicycles/pedestrians from highway traffic, building grade separated highway crossings and coordinating with the city and neighborhoods regarding connections to the trails, all in hopes of making Oak Hill more cycling and pedestrian friendly.
Responding to multiple choice questions, nearly 83% of the March 19th workshop participants said bike and pedestrian improvements should be a part of the Oak Hill Parkway. 60% said bike/pedestrian improvements should be paid for through toll revenue from the US 290/SH 71 West improvements when presented with multiple financing options. Of all the trails presented, the group's top priority was connecting the Barton Creek multi-use trail to the "Y" intersection.
Summaries of the workgroup meetings and the November 15th open house are available and can be found here on the Oak Hill Parkway website.
Contact us here for more information about the workgroups or to get involved.