Community open house provides additional opportunity for input
Approximately 140 Oak Hill residents and surrounding community members attended an open house on June 17, 2014 at Covington Middle School to review and provide comments on the revised mobility concepts for the Oak Hill Parkway.
The meeting was the fourth open house held by the Texas Department of Transportation and the Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority since November 2012 to gather public input on how to improve mobility and safety along the busy US 290/SH 71W corridor in Oak Hill.
Displays at the open house included information on eight improvement concepts considered for the corridor and the screening criteria used to evaluate the alternatives. Two build concepts – labeled Concept A and Concept C – were recommended for additional study because they best:
- Improve mobility
- Increase travel options
- Improve safety
- Minimize displacements
In addition to the two build concepts, a “No Build” concept – which includes the US 290 intersection improvements currently being constructed – would also be advanced for further evaluation. Federal environmental regulations require the “No-Build” alternative be considered.
All the concepts, as well as the evaluation criteria used to screen the concepts, are available on the project website: www.OakHillParkway.com.
All of the information provided at the in-person open house was available online at the project’s Virtual Open House on the Oak Hill Parkway website. There were 346 unique page views during the 10-day event.
There were 164 comments submitted as part of the June 17 open house meeting. These comments are currently being reviewed and considered by the project team. Once the analysis is complete, a summary report will be posted for you to view on the project website.
Citizens are assisted by project team members as they review the concepts to improve mobility and safety in Oak Hill at the June 17 open house.
Public involvement is critical to the Oak Hill Parkway project. Since the Oak Hill Parkway project study began in August 2012, more than 650 people have signed in to participate in various public outreach efforts, including four open houses and Virtual Open Houses, seven issue‐specific workshops and nearly two-dozen stakeholder meetings.
Information about the Oak Hill Parkway can be found on the project website, by contacting the project team at 512-996-9778, or by attending public meetings conducted throughout the environmental study process. Project team members are also available to meet with neighborhood associations, community groups and other interested parties.
Oak Hill community continues to shape mobility concepts
Public involvement is ongoing and vital in planning the Oak Hill Parkway as a project that has community support.
Recent public outreach activities include:
- A June 18 meeting with the Oak Hill Fire Department/Travis County Emergency Services District #3 – To better understand and plan for the needs of local emergency services
- A July 21 meeting with city of Austin Fire Department – To better accommodate emergency services needs in the design and development of the Oak Hill Parkway
- An Aug. 14 meeting with representatives of Freescale Semiconductor – To better understand priorities and needs related to Freescale’s campus at William Cannon Drive
- An Aug. 26 meeting with representatives of the Fix 290 Coalition and the Oak Hill Association of Neighborhoods – To discuss and answer questions regarding the evaluation criteria and evaluation process. A list of 22 stakeholder questions and responses is available on the Oak Hill Parkway project website at: http://www.oakhillparkway.com/news/files/stakeholder-questions.pdf
The project team is available to meet with neighborhood associations, community groups and others to discuss issues of concern, various improvement options, and the results of technical and environmental analyses. We welcome your questions about the Oak Hill Parkway. Please feel free to contact us at www.OakHillParkway.com or 512-996-9778.
An Aug. 26 meeting with Oak Hill community members is one of many recent events to gather public input on possible improvements to US 290W.
Context sensitive solutions sought for Oak Hill Parkway
TxDOT and the Mobility Authority are hosting the first of a series of workshops designed to work with the community to develop a project that reflects Oak Hill’s cultural and historic values and aesthetic preferences. Over the next few months, the team will be gathering citizen input on context sensitive solutions for the mobility and safety improvements along the US 290 and SH 71 corridors. Discussion topics can include trees and landscape, bridges and overpasses, Williamson Creek, and bicycle and pedestrian enhancements.
The first workshop is Oct. 9 from 6-8 p.m. at Oak Hill United Methodist Church, located at 7815 Highway 290W. The workshop is open to the public.
If you plan to attend, please let us know by signing up here: http://whoozin.com/XAW-DXW-7UCW
Q&A with the Oak Hill Parkway team
Just how high is the proposed flyover at US 290 and other questions regarding the proposed Oak Hill Parkway concepts.
Q. How tall are the proposed direct connectors between US 290 and SH 71?
A. Both concepts A and C propose a one-lane direct connector in each direction. Each direct connector would be less than 40 feet wide and approximately 25 feet above existing ground, about the height of a two story house. These would be very similar to the height of the US 290 overpass at Old Fredericksburg Road.
The proposed direct connectors between US 290 and SH 71 are approximately the same height as the overpass at Old Fredericksburg Road.
The historic Austin Pizza Garden building is taller than the proposed direct connectors between US 290 and SH 71.
Q. Did the project team consider depressing the US 290 mainlanes at William Cannon Drive?
A. Yes, at the request of the public, the team considered depressing the mainlanes of US 290 below William Cannon Drive. There are two reasons why the team did not advance this idea:
- Due to the proximity of Williamson Creek to US 290 at William Cannon Drive, flooding of the mainlanes is likely, and the safety of users is our utmost concern. Flood pumps have failed on other facilities, and the team felt it would not be responsible to expend funds studying an idea that would have a greater chance of endangering the public than the option of elevating US 290 over William Cannon Drive.
- Depressing the mainlanes would require large cut retaining walls that would pose a greater risk to the Grandmother Oak and Edwards Aquifer recharge zone.
Q. What other portions of the proposed Oak Hill Parkway would be elevated, and how tall would those segments be?
A. For Concept A, the US 290 mainlanes would be elevated about 25 feet above William Cannon Drive for a distance of about 800 feet.
For Concept C, the mainlanes of US 290 would be elevated approximately 25 feet above existing ground level from just west of SH 71 to about Joe Tanner Lane, a distance of about 5,500 feet (just a little over a mile).
Q. Why is it necessary to elevate portions of the proposed Oak Hill Parkway?
A. Due to the large volume of traffic on US 290, signalized at-grade intersections are not a long-term mobility solution. The various intersecting roadways would suffer severe congestion without grade separated bridges.
Concepts A and C propose to elevate the US 290 mainlanes over William Cannon Drive to avoid potential impacts to the Williamson Creek floodplain, large oak trees, and Edwards Aquifer recharge features.
Direct connectors at the “Y” interchange (US 290 at SH 71) will be required to handle the turning movements between the two highways. The mainlanes of US 290 will need to be grade separated from the frontage road turning lanes between SH 71 as well. Concept A proposes depressing the US 290 mainlanes under the SH 71 frontage road turning lanes, while Concept C would elevate the US 290 mainlanes over the SH 71 frontage road turning lanes.
Intersection upgrades improve mobility and safety
Addressing congestion, improving mobility and enhancing safety are the goals of intersection improvements currently under construction in the Oak Hill area. The work is a cooperative effort by TxDOT, the city of Austin and Travis County.
Two intersection improvement projects have been under construction in the Oak Hill area, upgrading six intersections along US 290. Recently, four of those intersections have opened, improving mobility for motorists.
Improvements to three of the newly opened intersections included adding dual left-turn lanes in three locations on US 290 – RM 1826, Austin Community College campus and Convict Hill Road – as well as constructing a center-turn lane between RM 1826 and Convict Hill Road.
The second project consists of designing and constructing two innovative intersections in the Oak Hill area, as well as making operational enhancements at Joe Tanner Lane. While work at the Joe Tanner Lane intersection is complete, the continuous flow intersections on US 290 at William Cannon and SH 71 are currently under construction. Work is more than 50 percent complete, and the entire project is anticipated to be complete by summer 2015.
The intersection improvements will provide an interim solution to congestion until a long-term solution can be developed through the Oak Hill Parkway environmental study.