THE OAK HILL PARKWAY HIGHLIGHTS:
- Proposing a design that address the traffic congestion in the corridor
- Proposing a design that separates through traffic from local traffic, providing both mobility and safety enhancements
- Limiting proposed elevation at the US 290/SH 71 intersection to one level instead of two levels above existing ground
- Building new facilities for bicyclists and pedestrians, including sidewalks, a trailhead at William Cannon Drive, and a shared-use path along the entire corridor
- Lowering the US 290 mainlanes underneath cross street overpasses at Circle Drive, Scenic Brook Road, RM 1826, and Convict Hill Road, and at the US 290/SH 71 intersection
- Looking to avoid or limit impacts to trees, especially the Grandmother Oak, Grandfather Oak, and the Niece Oaks in the vicinity of William Cannon Drive, and preserving the Beckett Grove Tree (formerly known as the Taco Bell Tree)
- Extending the improvements west of Circle Drive and reducing the proposed project’s footprint in that area
- Minimizing impacts to Williamson Creek, including in areas where bridges would be placed over Williamson Creek
- Adding natural treatments at Williamson Creek instead of a concrete culvert to channelize the waters; in fact, we are removing a significant amount of existing concrete out of the creek by building new bridges
- Realigning William Cannon Drive to avoid large trees
- Potentially reducing flooding with upstream water detention ponds
- Planning for best management practices like grassy swales, sedimentation/sand filtration basins, and bioretention ponds for water quality
- Realigning the westbound US 290 exit to RM 1826 in order to improve access for students and teachers heading to Austin Community College
- Improving access for businesses along SH 71 just north of US 290
- Improving access to Old Bee Caves Road
- Maintaining current access of streets and neighborhoods to the frontage roads
- Adding U-turns to provide local access without sitting through a traffic light
- Adding transit bus pull out locations
- Realigning the US 290 intersection with William Cannon Drive to save trees
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
WHAT IS THE PROBLEM THAT THE OAK HILL PARKWAY PROJECT WOULD ADDRESS?
Congestion has reduced mobility and quality of life in Oak Hill and surrounding communities. US 290 is ranked #64 on the state’s most congested roadways (2017). The intersection of two major highways (US 290 and SH 71) at the “Y” in Oak Hill, is a gateway to southwest Travis County. It serves as a key route between central Austin and fast-growing suburban and rural communities such as Lakeway, Bee Cave, Dripping Springs and Johnson City. US 290 is one of Texas' most congested highway corridors with drivers wasting more than 454,000 hours per year stuck in traffic. In addition, this corridor has become an unreliable route for both transit and emergency vehicles.
WHAT BUILD ALTERNATIVE IS BEING RECOMMENDED?
Multiple concepts for the proposed Oak Hill Parkway were refined and narrowed using public input, the purpose and need for the project, and detailed traffic analysis. As a result of the final phase of evaluation, Alternative “A” has been recommended by TxDOT and the Mobility Authority as the proposed build alternative. Ultimately, Alternative A is recommended because it meets the project purpose and need, and has fewer social, economic, and environmental impacts than Alternative C. This includes four fewer ground-level crossings of shared-use paths and city streets; an overall reduction in elevated structures; and fewer acres of streams and other bodies of water within the project right of way. The No-Build Alternative is still an option for approval and is being carried forward as a baseline for comparison.
WHAT ARE THE STUDY BOUNDARIES?
The Oak Hill Parkway project study area extends approximately four miles along US 290 from west of FM 1826 to Loop 1 (MoPac) as well as along approximately one mile of SH 71 from US 290 north to Silvermine Drive. The proposed improvements include considering direct connectors at the intersection of US 290 and SH 71. These study boundaries were designated and given to the project team by CAMPO as part of our mandate to thoroughly analyze the corridor and determine the best approach for improving mobility.
Although the study area on US 290 terminates at RM 1826, as a result of public input, a transition area extending the project past Circle Drive/Southview Road has been incorporated into the design schematics.
WHAT ARE YOU PROPOSING TO BUILD?
- TxDOT proposes an upgraded, state-of-the-art roadway consisting of three mainlanes for through traffic in each direction, as well as two-to-three frontage-road lanes in each direction.
- An overpass for the US 290 mainlanes over William Cannon Drive would be built, along with flyovers between US 290 and SH 71. At this location, the US 290 mainlanes would be depressed, or go under, SH 71.
- The westbound US 290 mainlanes and frontage roads would be north of Williamson Creek.
- Intersections would be constructed along US 290 at Convict Hill Road, RM 1826, Scenic Brook Drive, and Circle Drive (South View Road) where the highway would go below ground and the cross street would be at ground level.
- U-turn lanes would be constructed at intersections along US 290 and SH 71 to allow vehicles traveling on frontage roads to U-turn to access the opposite direction frontage road.
- Along SH 71, the flyover ramps would extend past Scenic Brook Drive where the mainlanes would transition to a five-lane (three lanes northbound, two lanes southbound) rural highway with U-turns for local access.
- Significant bicycle and pedestrian accommodations would be built along the entire corridor, including a seven-mile shared-use path, sidewalks, and a trailhead at Williamson Creek on William Cannon Drive.
- Upstream water detention ponds would be built to reduce potential flooding, and multiple stormwater detention and water quality treatment ponds would be built within the corridor.
- Additionally, new landscaping, tree plantings, and corridor aesthetics are proposed.
WHY ARE YOU BUILDING IT AS A NON-TOLL ROADWAY?
Toll financing alone cannot pay for this specific project. In order to move this project forward, TxDOT will be seeking state and federal funding to pay for the construction of the non-tolled Oak Hill Parkway project. As a non-tolled project, improvements will be eligible for funding that comes from Propositions 1 and 7. It is important to note that the non-tolled design is the same as the tolled design previously shown to the public. TxDOT is committed to improving the 100 most congested roads in Texas. This section of roadway currently ranks as the 64th most congested.
WHAT ARE THE IMPACTS OF THIS PROPOSAL?
This proposal would require acquisition of new right of way, including four commercial property displacements and one single-family residential property displacement. Other impacts include tree and vegetation removal and the potential for traffic noise mitigation through sound walls.
WHAT IS THE NO-BUILD, OR “DO NOTHING,” ALTERNATIVE?
At the end of this environmental study, if the TxDOT Environmental Division decides that the No-Build Alternative is the preferred alternative, US 290 and SH 71 would continue to exist as they do today and would continue to have standard, routine maintenance over the next 30 years. Travel times are projected to increase to approximately 25 to 35 minutes over what they are today. Congestion, safety, and mobility would continue to decline in the Oak Hill area as population increases. In addition, the proposed bicycle/pedestrian accommodations and the upstream water detention ponds would not be constructed. The No-Build Alternative is still an option on the table for approval and is being carried forward as a baseline for comparison.
COULD A SMALLER PROJECT ADDRESS THE CONGESTION PROBLEMS IN OAK HILL?
Unfortunately, no. Traffic demand on this corridor is just too high. The project team is designing a project that meets the traffic demand along the corridor today and best manages the traffic projections of tomorrow. We are trying to keep the footprint as small as possible in order to responsibly meet the purpose and need of the project, and it's important to us to design something that requires very limited right-of-way acquisition.
When we launched the study in 2012, the community told us that traffic congestion was a serious problem. In fact, 83 percent of survey respondents agreed that a goal of any proposed improvement should be to reduce congestion and manage traffic. TxDOT and the Mobility Authority are tasked with providing a real transportation solution that provides meaningful traffic relief.
WHAT ARE THE UPSTREAM WATER DETENTION PONDS?
We propose providing flood storage at two off-site and upstream detention ponds to ensure the project does not result in flooding impacts. In two locations, we would build a dam across natural creek valleys to capture flood waters during intense rain events. The water would then slowly recede over hours/days.
WILL YOU PLANT NEW TREES AND RELOCATE EXISTING TREES?
Various landscaping enhancements, including tree plantings and native plant seeding, would be included with the final project design, in response to public input regarding tree removal within the project area. TxDOT is willing to work with organizations wishing to relocate existing trees. Of note, the Grandmother Oak, the Grandfather Oak, the Nieces, and the Becket Grove Tree would be avoided by the proposed project.
WHAT ARE THE NEXT STEPS?
After the May 24, 2018 public hearing, public and agency comments will be considered as the final environmental document, or Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS), is completed and submitted for final review. The TxDOT Environmental Division will review the FEIS and make a final decision known as the “Record of Decision,” or ROD. The decision will determine whether the preferred build alternative moves forward or if the no-build alternative is selected instead. Should the build alternative be selected, TxDOT will seek state and federal funding. TxDOT has identified funding for utility relocation and right of way appraisal and purchase.
IF APPROVED, WHEN CAN YOU START CONSTRUCTION?
If the build alternative is approved to move forward into construction, the earliest the project could break ground is 2020, once funding is identified.
HOW ARE YOU USING PUBLIC INPUT?
Public input is critical to the Oak Hill Parkway project team. Since October 2012, we've held multiple Open Houses, issue-specific workshops, stakeholder meetings, and received more than 669 official comments. Learn more about all of our events by clicking here.
We are accountable to all stakeholders and are committed to collaborative and transparent public involvement throughout the decision-making process. When you give us your ideas and suggestions, the team reviews them together and determines if we can implement them. We have chosen to go above and beyond the legal requirements set forth by the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) in our outreach program. It is important to us to have a successful project the entire community can embrace. Any change to the current design has to still meet the purpose and need of the project and be both reasonable and financially feasible. Many of the comments we’ve received have resulted in great improvements to the overall project!
The project today continues to be fine-tuned due to public input after each time we visit with you! We look forward to continuing our collaborative work with the community and other stakeholders on shaping the proposed improvements in Oak Hill in the most reasonable and responsible manner.
Learn more about how we are using public input to shape the design of the Oak Hill Parkway project by clicking here.