Fixing 290: A Different Alternative

Build a bypass around US 290 West through Oak Hill by completing another segment of State Highway 45

Put another option on the table to help fix U.S. 290 West through Oak Hill: Build a bypass around the area by completing another segment of State Highway 45.
Put another option on the table to help fix U.S. 290 West through Oak Hill: Build a bypass around the area by completing another segment of State Highway 45.

Put another option on the table to help fix U.S. 290 West through Oak Hill: Build a bypass around the area by completing another segment of State Highway 45.

The alternative was raised during a discussion with Commissioner Gerald Daugherty at Fix290's forum last week. David Richardson, an Oak Hill community leader, asked Daugherty whether he had heard of the proposal to build a new bypass as a way to divert traffic around Oak Hill. By connecting SH 45 between Highway 290 and FM 1826, traffic could be diverted across Travis County and funneled onto MoPac.

Carol Cespedes, who facilitates the Fix290 group, is quick to say that this is not an option that has been formally endorsed by the group. And Colin Clark of Save Our Springs Alliance – which has been active in the Fix290 group – says SOS would not support such a measure. Richardson says the road project – once in the region's long-term road plan – was removed after the Save Our Springs Ordinance was passed, but he adds that the segment is not as problematic as others in more sensitive areas.

Daugherty was open to the idea of the bypass, although he pointed out that diverting traffic to the south end of MoPac simply clogged a second roadway that also is overburdened. But given the logistical nightmare that U.S. 290 West/Highway 71 actually is, be it as a tollway or a parkway – squeezing too many lanes through a minicanyon in an ecologically sensitive area – it's an interesting proposal.

District engineer Bob Daigh has promised to meet with U.S. 290 stakeholders to assess options on the U.S. 290 West/Highway 71 project, possibly as early as mid-May. Daigh says it will not be a "this way or the highway" discussion. Instead, Daigh and his staff will outline the trade-offs for various options on the highway project, from the number of lanes to the placement of exits to the height of the roadway.

Daugherty told the group that Fix290's parkway plan would be an easy vote before the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization board – if that's what the Texas Department of Transportation recommends – but urged the group to consider compromise if TxDOT does not support the parkway. The Fix290 group has been skeptical, at best, when it comes to TxDOT's willingness to consider Fix290's proposal, which would de-elevate the tollway through Oak Hill.

"I will defend TxDOT to this degree," Daugherty told the group. "These folks are putting time in to put up – at least – an attempt to come up with a plan that will mitigate some of the things that some of the people out here have had as problems with this project."

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