OAK HILL PARKWAY FINANCE WORKSHOP
The Oak Hill Parkway environmental study has reached the point where discussions have begun on how to finance the project. Transportation funding options were the topic of a public workshop on March 22 at Oak Hill United Methodist Church. Citizens were invited by the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) and Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority (Mobility Authority) to visit with representatives from the Texas A&M Transportation Institute (TTI) about options for financing the project, should a build alternative be recommended at the conclusion of the environmental study.
Attendees heard about transportation funding options, including tolling; the state of transportation funding; and state and local policies. Attendees were also asked to provide feedback on the Oak Hill Parkway project.
During a presentation given by TTI Researcher Dr. David Ellis, attendees learned that state and federal fuel taxes are the primary funding source for roads and bridges in Texas. He explained that while fuel costs have tripled, the gas tax has remained the same since 1991, so the state has less money available to pay for road and bridge improvements because of inflation. When you factor in the state’s significant population growth and demand on the roadway infrastructure, funding has not kept up with demand and mobility is likely to get worse. Because of this, he added, innovative financing options are considered viable solutions to funding new projects. Ellis’ full presentation and other materials from the Finance Workshop are available on the project website.
GAS TAXES ARE PAID AT THE PUMP
Source: Texas A&M Transportation Institute
Whether or not roadway improvements are implemented will depend on the outcome of the environmental study. If the decision is made to move forward with the project, tolling is the funding source identified in the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization’s Long Range Transportation Plan for Oak Hill area roadway improvements. Because US 290 and SH 71 are existing roads, if tolling is used to fund improvements and additional capacity, the same number of non-tolled lanes available today would remain available in the future, in accordance with state law.
OAK HILL PARKWAY OPEN HOUSE SET FOR JUNE 17
The next Oak Hill Parkway Open House is scheduled for June 17, 2014, at Covington Middle School cafeteria, 3700 Convict Hill Rd, Austin, TX 78749 from 4-7 p.m.
Over the last several months, mobility improvement concepts for the Oak Hill Parkway have been refined and narrowed using the Purpose and Need for the project, as well as other criteria, and public input. Attendees will have the opportunity to review the concepts, speak with representatives from TxDOT, the Mobility Authority and the rest of the project team, and submit comments. If you are unable to attend in-person, a Virtual Open House online at www.oakhillparkway.com will provide another opportunity to view the same information available during the Open House, as well as submit comments. The Virtual Open House will be available from June 18 – June 27.
Comments can be submitted during the Open House in writing, or given verbally to a court reporter. Comments may also be submitted electronically on the Oak Hill Parkway website. Written comments can be mailed to TxDOT Austin District Environmental Coordinator, Texas Department of Transportation, P.O. Box 15426, Austin, Texas, 78761-5426 or faxed to 512-832-7157. Comments must be received by June 27, 2014 to be included as part of the official Open House record.
analysis supports incorporation of options 1 and 2 in mobility concepts
Since the study began in November 2012, the project team has been receiving public input and incorporating that input into the various Oak Hill Parkway mobility concepts. For example, improvements to US 290 will now extend past Circle Drive. This concept originated from public comments submitted early on during the study and was originally presented to the public as Option 1. The project team has already begun meeting with potentially impacted stakeholders and is studying how to execute this option. Refinements will be on display at the upcoming Open House.
In addition, Option 2 would provide better access to the Austin Community College Pinnacle campus by adding a braided ramp off of westbound US 290 for traffic wanting to exit at RM 1826. Option 2 has also been implemented into all mobility concepts under consideration. The revised mobility concepts incorporating Options 1 and 2 will be available for review at the June 17 Open House.
Project team members met with stakeholders that may be affected by Option 1 at the Austin Waldorf School on February 4.
CONTEXT SENSITIVE SOLUTIONS
One of the project team’s goals is to develop a project that fits with the local setting and preserves scenic, aesthetic, historic and environmental resources. The project team will engage the community in a Context Sensitive Solutions (CSS) process to gather input on major design components, which could include bridges, retaining walls, possible sound walls, landscape treatments, hardscapes and possibly signature design elements to unify the look and feel of the corridor.
TxDOT and the Mobility Authority will kick off a CSS process later this year. Please watch for scheduled dates on the website, or let us know if you are interested in this topic by sending us an email via the project website: www.OakHillParkway.com.
We encourage you to contact us with questions or to request a meeting or presentation. Oak Hill Parkway project team members are available to speak to your neighborhood or 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 email@example.com.