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Envisioning Greater Mobility in Oak Hill

A renewed commitment to improving long-term mobility in Oak Hill has begun, and we’re starting by listening to neighbors and motorists who live and travel in the area.The busy US 290/SH 71 West highway corridor serves as a key route for local traffic and as a primary connection between Austin and the Hill Country. It is the focus of an environmental study – called the Oak Hill Parkway – designed to consider a wide range of creative alternatives that emphasizes feedback from extensive public involvement and complement the character of the Oak Hill community.

Attendees at an open house on November 15 at Small Middle School had a lot to say about the US 290/SH 71 West corridor. During the open house, members of the community were asked to provide input on three topics: mobility problems impacting Oak Hill and the surrounding area, important issues that should be considered as alternatives are developed and what should be included in an environmental study of alternatives.

The public responded, providing comments, completing surveys and highlighting traffic problems on large aerial photographs of the US 290/SH 71 West corridor.

Issues raised by attendees were wide-ranging and included:

  • Improving access for bicyclists and pedestrians
  • Reducing traffic congestion as soon as possible
  • Improving routes for emergency vehicles
  • Developing environmentally friendly and aesthetically pleasing designs
  • How to pay for possible improvements
  • Better transit options
  • Whether or not improvements are needed at all based on some studies regarding reduced vehicle miles traveled per capita and changing demographics in the region.

State, regional and local transportation officials are working with neighbors and drivers to identify a long-term mobility solution in the Oak Hill area that:

Respects the environment, improves mobility and adds value to the Oak Hill community and surrounding area; promotes sustainable growth by incorporating elements from the Green Mobility Challenge (learn more about the Green Mobility Challenge below); is consistent with and supports community goals for the enhancement of Oak Hill; and moves more people safely and reliably - not just more vehicles.

The Oak Hill Parkway study team will identify a full range of alternatives, incorporate previous studies, and through extensive analysis and community outreach, identify a recommended solution. Local and regional connectivity will be a key consideration.

The proposed purpose of the Oak Hill Parkway study is to:
  • Improve mobility and operational efficiency
  • Facilitate long-term congestion management in the corridor by accommodating the movement of people and goods for multiple modes of travel
  • Improve safety and emergency response
The need – or the problem to be solved – has been identified as: traffic congestion related to steady population growth in Austin and the surrounding area. Traffic congestion has resulted in a high rate of vehicle crashes, lost time stuck in traffic, poor level of service, lack of connectivity and an unreliable route for transit and emergency vehicles.

NEXT STEPS

Public involvement is ongoing throughout the Oak Hill Parkway study process and is a key focus in coming months. The Oak Hill Parkway team will be visiting with stakeholders and hosting community work groups to get input on such issues as the environment, general design, bicycle and pedestrian issues and more. If you would like to take part in one of the work groups, please contact Randall Dillard at (512) 658-2328. A public meeting will be held in late spring or this summer.

On the technical side, the team will begin looking at conceptual alternatives, performing a hydraulic evaluation of Williamson Creek and conducting traffic studies.

The Oak Hill Parkway process

The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) and the Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority (Mobility Authority), in coordination with the City of Austin, Travis County, Capitol Metro and other local partners, are seeking public input to thoroughly analyze problems in the corridor in order to determine the best approach for improving mobility.

Throughout the process, the community will be consulted on a wide range of elements, such as the environment, general design, bicycle/pedestrian accommodations and aesthetics. While recognizing the input from previous efforts, the process will encourage feedback and fresh ideas from the community.

The Oak Hill Parkway study will include:

  • Extensive public involvement
  • Input from local, state and federal agencies who will help guide and review the study
  • Discussion of purpose and need for the project
  • Alternatives analysis
  • Evaluation of a range of reasonable mobility alternatives
  • Include a No Build alternative in all analyses 
  • Detailed description of the affected environment
  • Natural resources
  • Human environment
  • Evaluation of potential impacts
  • Result in selection of recommended alternative

Public involvement is ongoing throughout the Oak Hill Parkway study process and is a key focus in coming months. The Oak Hill Parkway team will be visiting with stakeholders and hosting community work groups to get input on such issues as the environment, general design, bicycle and pedestrian issues and more.

An Innovative Approach:

The Green Mobility Challenge

To successfully implement a long-term solution to mobility problems in the Oak Hill area, it will be important to identify community values and incorporate them into any possible future design. In July 2011, the Mobility Authority, in partnership with TxDOT, hosted the Green Mobility Challenge, a sustainable design competition to identify better ways of constructing, operating and maintaining future transportation projects, including the intersection of US 290/SH 71 West. Ideas from the Green Mobility Challenge will be incorporated in the design of the Oak Hill Parkway when applicable and feasible. Some of the ideas that will be incorporated include:

  • Improve connectivity of local streets
  • Accommodate a multi-modal pedestrian friendly Town Center
  • Design gateway bridges and enhanced architectural features
  • Use roundabouts at intersections
  • Restore/enhance Williamson Creek
  • Create multi-use trails along Oak Hill Parkway and Williamson Creek
  • Develop green space/parkland
  • Use innovative asphalt pavement
  • Utilize biofiltration/biodetention
  • Use LED/solar lighting

For more information, visit GreenMobilityChallenge.com


Looking Back: The history of us 290/sh 71 west

The roadway that is now US Highway 290 was originally built as a state highway in 1927, the same year that Calvin Coolidge was President and Charles Lindbergh made the first solo flight across the Atlantic Ocean. What is now called SH 71 West was constructed as a Farm-to-Market Road in 1944.

The “Y” in Oak Hill took its current form in the 1950s. Some of the more recent history highlights of the highway corridor include:

  • 1988 – Federal environmental clearance to build an expressway (3 lanes in each direction plus frontage roads) from RM 1826 in Oak Hill to FM 973 east of Bergstrom Air Force Base (Now Austin Bergstrom International Airport)
  • 2004 – CAMPO’s 2030 Long Range Transportation Plan includes US 290/SH 71 West as a tolled facility
  • 2005 – TxDOT holds public meetings on plans for improvements in Oak Hill
  • 2005 – Expanded environmental study requested by several local groups
  • 2006 – Parkway design plan proposed by local groups
  • 2007 – Mediation with local stakeholder groups identifies issues and reaches many consensus points. However, agreement on final design is not reached, in part due to a lack of funding for the project.

Plans to build an expressway from west of Oak Hill to east of Austin Bergstrom International Airport gained federal environmental clearance in 1988. The expressway has been built in segments. A combination of public concerns and funding constraints led to the Oak Hill section of the larger US 290 project being placed on hold.

A renewed commitment:

July 2011 – The Green Mobility Challenge is held to identify better ways of constructing, operating and maintaining transportation projects.

  • March 2012 – Five intersection improvements in the Oak Hill area are announced to reduce traffic delay until about 2020, but a long-term mobility solution is still needed.
  • October 2012 – The Oak Hill Parkway study is announced to develop a long-term mobility solution that earns community support.
  • November 2012 – Open House kicks-off effort to gather public input for the Oak Hill Parkway study.

We Want to Hear From You

Public outreach is critical to the success of the Oak Hill Parkway. Comments on the project may be submitted in the following ways:

          TxDOT Austin District Environmental Coordinator
          Texas Department of Transportation
          P.O. Drawer 15426
          Austin, Texas, 78761-5426

Contact Us

We encourage you to contact us with questions or to request a meeting or presentation. Oak Hill Project team members are available to speak to your neighborhood or other organization. To contact project planners and staff, visit our website at: www.oakhillparkway.com/contact/ or call us at 512.996.9778.

Information about the Oak Hill Parkway study can also be found on our website at: www.oakhillparkway.com If you would like to be added to the email list for further notifications and information, sign-up at www.oakhillparkway.com or email Randall Dillard at rdillard@nancyledbetter.com.

Contact Us

301 Congress Ave, Ste 650
Austin, TX 78701
T: (512) 996-9778
F: (512) 996-9784
Click here to send us an email

Copyright © 2013, Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority, All rights reserved.