In compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), TxDOT is currently conducting an environmental study for US 290 from State Loop 1 (SL1) to Ranch-to-Market Road (RM) 1826, in Travis County, Texas, a distance of approximately 3.6-miles. The study will also look at improvements to SH 71 from Silvermine Drive to US 290 in Travis County, a distance of approximately 1.2-miles. In addition, and as a result of public comment, the project includes a transition area along US 290 from FM 1826 to west of Circle Drive.
The study began in October 2012 and we anticipate an environmental decision in 2018.
TxDOT identified a full range of alternatives, incorporated previous analyses, and through extensive analysis and community outreach, identifed a recommended solution, or “preferred alternative.” The analysis and public involvement efforts have been documented through the preparation of this Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS). The DEIS evaluates the potential environmental, social, and economic impacts resulting from the proposed construction of the project.
PROJECT PURPOSE, Or, What are we trying to do?
Improve mobility and operational efficiency
Promote long-term congestion management
Increase multimodal travel options for people and goods
Improve emergency response
PROJECT NEED, Or, What are we trying to solve?
- Traffic congestion related to population growth – Travis Co. has grown from 212,000 in 1960 to just over 1.2 million in 2016 (US Census Data, 2016)
- Crashes on US 290/ SH 71 West – 1,208 crashes occurred on US 290/SH 71 between 2010 and 2016, resulting in five fatalities, 30 incapacitating injuries, plus other injuries and property damage (TxDOT, 2017)
- Lost time – Drivers wasted more than 454,000 hours per year stuck in traffic on US 290/SH 71 in 2014 (Texas A&M Transportation Institute, 2015)
- Lack of reliable connectivity
- Unreliable route for transit and emergency vehicles
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. The No-Build Alternative is still an option on the table for approval and is being carried forward as a baseline for comparison.
Build Alternative A
- 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.
No-Build (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.
Draft Public and Agency Coordination Plan
The environmental review, consultation, and other actions required by applicable Federal environmental laws for this project are being, or have been, carried out by TxDOT pursuant to 23 U.S.C. 327 and a Memorandum of Understanding dated December 16, 2014, and executed by FHWA and TxDOT.