TxDot in Wise County: US 81/US 287 Intersection Improvements and Roadway Reconstruction Project

TxDot is working on a plan to improve roadways in Wise County, Texas near the city of Decatur. The entire plan consists of two smaller and distinct projects. The first is the US 81/US 287 Interim Crossover Project which will include crossover improvements and the addition of acceleration/deceleration lanes to enhance safety. The second is the US 81/US 287 Roadway Reconstruction and Intersection Improvement Project which includes the construction of new one-way frontage roads, ramps and U-turns as well as a grade-separated street crossing at the intersection of NRS Ranch Road.

The entire project is about 2.4 miles long and will cost approximately $39.5 million. The first of the two projects is projected to have a final design by the spring of 2021 and will start being constructed in winter of 2022. The second and final project recently underwent the public input phase and is anticipated to have a schematic by fall 2020. TxDot states that the project is on track to get environmental approval by spring of 2021. Once the project gets environmental approval, then the final design will be created, right-of-way will be acquired and construction will begin.

Ronald Reagan Extension in Williamson County

The city of Jarrell has mirrored the rest of Williamson County in its recent extraordinary population growth. Current population projections don’t show this growth slowing down anytime soon, which is why the County seeks to improve the region’s transportation infrastructure. One of the projects in the county’s long-range transportation plan is a connection between IH 35 and SH 95 near Jarrell, often referred to as the Ronald Regan extension.

The extension is in its initial stages and the county is currently conducting the “Ronald Reagan Extension Planning and Preservation Study” to look into possible routes. The study is being funded through the 2013 Williamson County Road Bond Program. The County has already reached out to potentially impacted property owners to gather feedback and provide opportunities for input. Based on these meetings with property owners, the County’s study team is planning different possible routes. Once these are completed, the study team will reach out to property owners to discuss the potential impacts. The County plans to have a route finalized in 2021.

According to a Williamson County fact sheet, the plan for the extension is for it to be built in phases. As the county continues to grow and as funding becomes available, the first frontage road will likely be a two to three lane road, with one lane in each direction, and potentially with a center turn lane. The second phase will be a second frontage road and lastly will be main lanes.

TxDOT Across Counties: SH 205

TxDOT is planning major expansions to SH 205 which are set to affect hundreds of landowner in Collin, Rockwall, and Kaufman Counties. The expansions to SH 205 will span from US 80 to SH 78, roughly 25 miles, and is split into 7 segments. To accommodate the increasing traffic in Rockwall County, the expansions include changing the part of the two-lane highway to a six-lane and replacing two bridges.

Numerous landowners will be affected by the Right of Way expanding from 80-100ft to 110ft, and the project expects this expanded ROW to take 6.10 additional acres. TxDOT has begun right-of-way acquisition for the southernmost expansion point of SH 205 in the city of Terrell.

TxDOT in Hays County: RM 150

TxDOT is planning to revamp the 21-mile long stretch of RM 150 between Kyle and Dripping Springs in Hays County within the next few years. The project will add lanes in both directions from two total lanes to four, realign RM 150 from Kyle to Old Kyle Road, and will construct a new road connecting RM 150 to I-35. The project is expected to cost at least $189 million and will affect numerous landowners in Hays County.

The aim of this project is to increase mobility between the cities in Hays County with its more rural areas. Right-of-way acquisition, including the government’s use of eminent domain power to condemn private land, along with corresponding construction of the new roadway is expected between now and 2024.

Beaumont, TX I-10 Interchanges Project

TxDOT plans to restructure I-10 and US 69 in Beaumont, Texas, aiming to add a lane to both directions of traffic along a five mile strip from Walden Road to Delaware Street, as well as interchanges stretching out to Fannett Road and N 7th Street. Additionally, TxDOT may relocate certain ramps along I-10. The goal is to make the roads safer for now and the future as TxDOT projections predict there will be over 50% more cars on the roads by 2040.

 Open Houses were held in April and September, with a public hearing to follow this winter. Construction is currently scheduled to begin winter of 2021. TxDOT will have to assert eminent domain laws to take the necessary land, affecting homeowners and business owners.

DART Silver Line

The Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) is partnering with the Federal Transit Administration to create a “Silver Line,” formerly known as the “Cotton Belt Rail Line” commuter rail that spans 26 miles from the DFW Airport all the way east to Plano with additional stations in Dallas, Richardson, Addison, Carrollton, Coppell, and Grapevine. Construction has already started, and DART plans to finish construction by the end of 2022.

The goal of the Silver Line is to increase mobility and accessibility, i.e. to give citizens more economic opportunities via quick travel between cities and counties. DART also hopes that citizens choosing the rail instead of cars will decrease traffic congestion and improve air quality.

The scope of the 26-mile rail already raised concerns regarding eminent domain, and those concerns will only increase as construction progresses and DART takes right-of-way from private properties. Chief among those concerns are safety and negative impact on property values.

Southeast Loop Construction in Williamson County

The Williamson County Engineer/Road and Bridge Division is currently conducting studies and taking feedback regarding construction of a Southeast Loop stretching from SH 130 to FM3349, then up to US79. The goal of construction is to enhance mobility in the county to accommodate the rapid growth of Hutto and Taylor cities. Assuming the project succeeds in its bond election this November, construction could begin as soon as January 2020.

This project is one of five corridors proposed for study; other projects being considered is a connector between Sam Houston Avenue at Patriot Way to SH 29, improvements to Sam Bass Road from RM1431 to Wyoming Springs Drive, an extension to Ronald Reagan from IH 35 to SH 95, and improvements to US 183 from SH 29 to the Williamson County line. All five of these projects aim to accommodate Williamson County property growth.

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.