In 2012, TxDOT and the Mobility Authority initiated a new environmental study of US 290 and SH 71, called the Oak Hill Parkway. TxDOT, the Mobility Authority, their consultants, participating agencies, and the public developed mobility improvement concepts and a methodology for screening the concepts. The concepts represented the range of reasonable alternatives required by the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). The preliminary concepts were presented to the public during numerous public involvement activities.
The iterative process involved initial scoping discussions, collaboration regarding concepts to be evaluated and the project’s purpose and need, evaluation of the concepts through a screening process, and carrying forward for further study the concepts that best meet the project purpose and need.
As of January 2015, the remaining build concepts are being further developed as Alternative A and Alternative C. The No Build, or “Do Nothing,” Alternative is also being carried forward and will serve as a baseline for analysis. These alternatives will be evaluated in detail during the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) process, resulting in the identification of a preferred alternative.
How can one of the build alternatives become the “preferred” alternative?
To be the preferred alternative, it must:
- Best manage the projected CAMPO traffic projections in 2040
- Best meet the Purpose and Need of the project
- Must not have adverse effects on historical properties, endangered species, and parkland unless there is no other alternative that could be used to manage the projected CAMPO traffic projections in 2040
- Meet state water quality standards
- Abate noise where it is reasonable and feasible
- Meet safety standards set by the Federal Highway Administration
If you’re new to the project, or you’d like to dive deeper into the evaluation criteria and process — please download these exhibits on evaluation criteria and process that were presented at previous open houses.
Please note, that the No Build, or “do nothing”, Alternative is still on the table. Under the No Build alternative, the proposed improvements would not be constructed. This assumes all other projects in the CAMPO Plan would be constructed. The analysis for the No Build Alternative includes the interim intersection improvements currently being constructed by the city of Austin and TxDOT.
If the No Build Alternative is selected at the end of the Oak Hill Parkway project process, congestion, safety, and mobility would continue to decline in the Oak Hill area as population increases. In 2035, the CAMPO traffic model shows that it will take you 30 minutes to go 5 miles through this corridor. It’s important to note, however, for the “no build” alternative the number of cars in 2035 is not much different than traffic today because the current facility cannot handle more cars. The demand is certainly there, but you can’t squeeze more traffic on US 290 or SH 71 during peak hours. The overflow traffic has to find other routes through the local roadway network, including neighborhood streets.