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.

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 http://www.oakhillparkway.com/.