Proposed I-35 Expansion

Earlier this month, the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) announced that it would be pursuing an $8 billion expansion for Interstate 35 through Austin, adding lanes and constructing two levels of underground tunnels near the University of Texas. The announcement came on May 6th, during a presentation at a Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization (CAMPO) board meeting. CAMPO voted to allocate $400 million in funding for the project and hopes that federal agencies will join in to help fund the project.

In its current form, the expansion project would add two managed lane each way along I-35 for 16 miles from Texas 45 South to U.S. 290 East in North Austin. One managed lane each way for 12 miles from U.S. 290 East to Texas 45 North in Round Rock would also be added. The highway would also transform completely in its stretch through downtown, with current models showing five lanes each way below ground level and frontage roads on ground. Assuming the necessary funding comes in from state and federal agencies, construction is expected to begin in 2022 and be completed sometime after 2027.

RM 620 Expansion near Lakeway

On October 10, 2018 TxDOT held an open house in the Lakeway Activity Center to inform residents about the expansion of RM 620. The RM 620 expansion project consists of widening the road from five lanes to a six-lane divided roadway with a raised concrete median and turn lanes. A continuous bike and pedestrian path will also be included as a part of the expansion project. The expansion will apply to the stretch of RM 620 from SH 71 to Hudson Bend Rd. The project is still undergoing an environmental study which is not expected to be completed until mid-2020.

For those interested in learning more about the project, there will be two more public hearings held on the project in 2019. In the meantime, TxDOT officials say that the project is still in the schematic environmental phase, meaning the department is examining the potential alignment of the roadway and what kind of rights of way are needed for the project. Lakeway locals can breathe easy knowing that construction is not expected to begin until the fiscal year of 2022. The project is anticipated to cost $80 million in addition to right of way costs.

RM 2243 Road Expansion between Georgetown and Leander

Leander is one of the fastest growing cities in Texas, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that one of it’s main thoroughfares, RM 2243, may be set for a big expansion. The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) is looking at adding three main lanes and three frontage lanes in each direction on RM 2243, also known as Leander Road, from 183A Toll Road to the Southwest Bypass in nearby Georgetown. From Southwest Bypass to I-35, RM 2243 would become a four-lane divided road. The project would also add a continuous bike and pedestrian shared use path along the entirety of Rm 2243. Currently, RM 2243 is mostly a two-lane divided highway, struggling from heavy traffic caused by a quickly growing population.

According to a TxDOT fact sheet on the road project, improvements would require a right-of-way width of approximately 500 feet at intersection and 350 feet elsewhere. TxDOT is currently in the process of completing the corridor study for the project, slated to be finished at some point in the Spring of 2019. After this, the project will still have to clear a few more hurdles before beginning construction, namely schematic development and environmental clearance.

Highway 71 Overpass Construction in Cedar Creek

The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) plans to construct a new overpass at the intersection of State Highway 71 and Farm to Market Road 1209. One of TxDOT’s main goals with this construction project is to increase safety for commuters along Highway 71. In addition to making the intersection safer, it should also reduce traffic along what has become an increasingly busy road, with nearly 37,000 vehicles passing the intersection each day on average.

The overpass is a part of a larger TxDOT project to eliminate any traffic signals for drivers traveling from Austin to I-10. This includes building similar overpasses along Highway 71’s intersections with Tucker Hill Lane, Pope Bend Road, Ross Road, and Kellam Road in addition to FM 1209. The projects is expected to cost around $34.5 million and construction is not expected to begin until 2020. Of all the overpass projects along Highway 71, the one at the intersection of FM 1209 is expected to be the last to be constructed.

FM 1516 Widening in Converse, Texas

The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) has proposed a construction project that would widen FM 1516 from I-10 to FM 78 in Converse, Texas in Bexar County. The project would expand FM 1516 from two lanes to four lanes with left turn lanes, and would also include raised medians, bike lanes and new sidewalks on both sides of the road. The road widening and other improvements are expected to cost a total of $23.5 million dollars, and construction is not expected to begin until 2022. TxDOT anticipates only one commercial displacement and no residential displacements to result from the project.

From 2011 to 2015, 81 injury-related crashes occurred on the 3.4 mile stretch of FM 1516 from I-10 to FM 78 where the construction project is set to take place. TxDOT reported that this injury rate was above the state average for this type of roadway and attributed the abnormally high amount of injuries to FM 1516’s outdated rural design that is now serving a suburban community.  The aim of the project is to reduce congestion and improve safety conditions along a portion of FM1516, the traffic of which is expected to double by 2044.

NextDecade Corp. announces Galveston Bay Pipeline

On January 16, 2019 NextDecade Corp. hosted an open house event in Rosenberg, Texas to offer local landowners a glimpse of the company’s proposed Galveston Bay Pipeline project. If approved by regulators, the pipeline will run 97 miles from Katy, Texas to Texas City near Galveston. NextDecade has stated that they intend to build 85 percent of the pipeline along existing right of way, but that the other 15 percent would still need to be negotiated.

Property owners concerned about the Galveston Bay Pipeline should know that construction on the pipeline is not expected to be begin until 2022, and will not be completed until 2027 at the earliest. NextDecade will not file its formal application for the pipeline with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) until the fourth quarter of this year. Upon the approval of this application, FERC will still need to issue an environmental impact statement before NextDecade can begin construction on the Galveston Bay Pipeline. NextDecade also has applications pending to develop a pipeline and export terminal in south Texas near Brownsville.

Oak Hill Parkway Project – Update

The Oak Hill Parkway project, a proposed expansion of US Highway 290 and State Highway 71, recently received environmental clearance following the completion of a six year study evaluating the potential impact of construction along the two highways. The Final Environment Impact Statement, released on December 21st, concluded that Alternative A – a non-tolled 12-lane project – has “fewer social, economic and environmental impacts,” than other proposed construction alternatives for the highways.

More specifically, the Oak Hill Parkway project consists of three main lanes for through traffic and three frontage-road lanes in each direction on both highways. An overpass for the US 290 main lanes over William Cannon Drive would also be built, in addition to flyovers between US 290 and SH 71. Bicycle and pedestrian accommodations would also be incorporated throughout the corridor. The estimated construction cost of the Oak Hill Parkway project is $440 million, and the earliest the project could break ground is 2020. The project is expected to take four years to complete. More information on the project can be found at

Kinder Morgan and EagleClaw Midstream to Construct “Permian Highway Pipeline Project”

On September 5th, 2018 Kinder Morgan and EagleClaw Midstream announced that they have authorized $2 billion for the construction of the Permian Highway Pipeline Project. The pipeline will transport natural gas 430 miles from Fort Stockton in west Texas, to Katy, Texas near Houston. The Permian Highway Pipeline project is expected to carry up to 2 billion cubic feet of natural gas per day through a 42-inch pipeline.

Allen Fore, Vice President of Public Affairs for Kinder Morgan, stated that the pipeline will be buried at least four feet deep, and will require the pipeline company to purchase 50 foot easements from landowners, in addition to 25 to 50 feet work easements. Kinder Morgan also stated that construction on the project should begin in the fall of 2019, and become operational the following year. The pipeline company is already working on the construction of the $1.7 billion Gulf Coast Express pipeline, also running from the Permian Basin to Gulf of Mexico.

Magellan Pipeline Expansion

On July 30th, Magellan Midstream Partners, L.P. announced an expansion of the western segment of its refined petroleum products pipeline system in Texas. This expansion, which will increase the capacity of the pipeline form 100,000 barrels per day (bpd) to 175,000 bpd, will be accomplished by three separate construction projects. First, Magellan will build a new 140 mile pipeline from Hearne to Alexander, Texas following Magellan’s existing pipeline route between the two cities. Secondly, Magellan will be expanding the diameter of this existing pipeline to take on a greater capacity of petroleum products. Lastly, Magellan will construct a connecting pipeline to ExxonMobil Pipeline Company’s terminal in Wink, Texas.

The western segment of pipeline to be expanded runs across Erath, Bosque, McLennan, Falls, and Robertson counties. Magellan estimates that the pipeline expansion project will cost approximately $500 million, and will be completed by mid-2020, depending on the receipt of necessary permits and approvals. The company is also considering the construction of new terminals in Midland and the Delaware Basin.

Plains Pipeline and Exxon Mobil announce New Pipeline

On June 12th of this year, Plains All American Pipeline, L.P. and Exxon Mobil announced that they had begun the process of constructing a new pipeline by signing a letter of intent to pursue the creation of a joint venture. The pipeline, which is still unnamed, will transport crude oil and condensate from Permian basin to the Texas Gulf Coast. More specifically, the pipeline is set to originate in Wink and Midland, Texas and have terminals in Webster, Baytown, and Beaumont.

Importantly, Plains Pipeline and Exxon’s announcement stated that, “a priority would be placed on using existing pipeline corridors to help limit potential community and environmental disruptions.” Based on information from property owners who have received surveying permit requests from Plains Pipeline, it appears that portions of the proposed new Plains / Exxon Mobil pipeline will run parallel to Enterprise Product Partners’ recent “Shin Oak” pipeline.  Neither Plains All American Pipeline, L.P. nor Exxon Mobil has released any updates about the pipeline since their initial announcement in June.