Study Team Responds to Stakeholder Request to Develop New Concept
A new concept is being added to the list of alternatives to be evaluated as part of the Oak Hill Parkway project.
The new concept is being developed at the request of stakeholders who saw elements of their vision incorporated into several of the concepts presented at the May 23rd open house hosted by the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) and the Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority (Mobility Authority). While some of the concepts included features of their ideal concept, they asked the study team to develop a new concept that represents their vision.
“Public input is critical to developing a viable long-term solution that will improve safety and mobility in the corridor,” said James Williams, P.E., TxDOT project manager. “We are being responsive to what people say they want.”
“We met with the stakeholders requesting the new concept to fully understand their vision,” said Melissa Hurst, Community Outreach Manager at the Mobility Authority. “The new concept will be presented to the public alongside the other concepts at an open house this fall.”
On July 12th the study team visited with Fix 290 representatives Bruce Melton, Carol Cespedes and Steve Beers. The following list includes some of the features the group would like to see in the new concept:
A limited access, mostly at-grade concept with no traditional frontage roads
US 290 being partially depressed in a rolling profile
All major cross streets go over US 290
A modified roundabout instead of direct connection ramps at US 290 and SH 71
Only one overpass at the “Y” – for westbound traffic
Neighborhoods/adjacent property owners would use local roads to access major arterials and would not have direct access to US 290. Minor street access would be cul-de-sac’d off where possible to limit direct access to major arterials. Develop new roads to access landlocked parcels.
Realign William Cannon to avoid large trees on the south side
Resemble other concepts, without frontage roads, west of Convict Hill
Purchase right-of-way to restrict access in lieu of building service/frontage roads
Limit access to ACC through the new entrance and close off the existing entrance between 1826 and Convict Hill Road
Minimize any increases to impervious cover or options that would impact a lot of trees or necessitate channelizing Williamson Creek
TxDOT and the Mobility Authority will continue working with the Fix 290 team to develop the new concept. Expect the concept to be developed to the same level of detail as other concepts prior to the next open house meeting, tentatively scheduled for the fall.
Oak Hill Parkway Dialogue Continues at Open House
Seventy-eight people attended the May 23rd open house for the Oak Hill Parkway. The public provided a variety of comments on how to improve the facility. Included in the discussion was whether future lanes should be below grade, at ground level, or elevated. Other opinions were provided on topics including funding, design, the terminus for improvements and protecting the environment.
It was the second open house held at Small Middle School since the project kicked off in November 2012. The forum provided the public an opportunity to provide feedback on preliminary concepts. Additional public input was obtained through a series of public workgroup meetings to discuss specific topics such as the environment, design and bicycle/pedestrian issues.
“It is an informative, ongoing and much-needed dialogue on how to look at mobility improvements that complement the community,” said James Williams, P.E., TxDOT project manager. “We are looking at all ideas.”
TxDOT and the Mobility Authority are working with the City of Austin, Travis County, Capital Metro and other agencies to improve long-term mobility in the region. The organizations are working with the community to develop a solution that effectively addresses traffic congestion while respecting the environment and adding value to the Oak Hill community.
Seven preliminary design concepts, plus a no-build option, were displayed at the open house, offering a variety of possible design element combinations.
“These initial concepts reflect what we heard from the community at our first open house, in stakeholder meetings and in workgroup discussions with citizens,” said Melissa Hurst, Community Outreach Manager at the Mobility Authority. “We are evaluating and refining the concepts as we continue through the environmental study process based on the feedback we have received.”
All of the concepts reduce – by roughly half or more – the height of the US 290/SH 71 interchange compared to the alternative that resulted from the previous study in 2007. Other highlights include:
Four of the concepts would lower US 290 along much of the route west of the “Y”, provide bridges at major intersections along US 290 and include a divided boulevard design along SH 71
Two concepts include direct connector ramps between US 290 and SH 71, providing non-stop travel from one highway to the other
Five concepts utilize a unique “single point” traffic signal at the intersection of US 290 and SH 71 frontage roads to minimize stop time
One concept would not allow access to the mainlanes through Oak Hill
One concept would make improvements at just William Cannon Drive and SH 71 while another concept would make improvements at William Cannon Drive only
One concept provides continuity for previous work in 2007 by TxDOT and the Oak Hill community
All concepts considered could include an option to extend the US 290 transition to the west of Circle Drive.
In addition, the “no-build” option resembles the existing configuration of US 290 and SH 71 with the approved interim intersection improvements. Click here to view the concepts that were presented for public feedback at the open house.
Virtual Open House Provides Another Avenue for Public to Provide Input
The Oak Hill Parkway team introduced a new tool intended to make it easier than ever for the public to participate in the environmental study.
A pilot, web-based virtual open house – created in cooperation with the Texas Department of Transportation, the Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority and the Texas A&M Transportation Institute – provided a new avenue for the pubic to get involved in the decision making process.
“It is critical to involve the public in the transportation decisions that shape the future of Oak Hill,” said Kelli Reyna, TxDOT Public Information Officer. “The virtual open house allowed citizens to participate in the transportation planning process at their convenience, in the comfort of their own home or office, and as their schedule permits.”
From May 23rd through June 3rd, visitors to the virtual open house were able to review all of the materials that were shared in-person at the May 23rd Oak Hill Parkway Open House held at Small Middle School. The materials were presented through the use of concept videos and voiceovers. The information focused on the roadway concepts being considered as a solution to traffic congestion along US 290/SH 71 West in Oak Hill.
An introductory video explained the purpose of the virtual open house and provided directions on how to use the site. Background information about the study process was available on an overview page. From there, users were able to select any of the possible design concepts to view additional information and provide their opinion.