Bringing walkability, as well as connecting mixed-use development to Mercer Street is something Dripping Springs city leaders are envisioning for its planned improvements to Old Fitzhugh Road.
The project, an initiative spurred by the city and Hays County, will continue the downtown aesthetic the city is looking for.
Mercer Street, which is a hub for local mom and pop shops, breweries, city hall and other businesses, will blend itself to Old Fitzhugh, connecting the two historic areas into one central shared use path. Dripping Springs showcased its vision during an open house on the improvements May 23.
With the workshop, engineering, community open house and right-of-way surveys coming to a close, the Old Fitzhugh plan will make its way to the city’s Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone (TIRZ) board, before it goes before Planning and Zoning and city council in June.
The Old Fitzhugh Road improvement plan follows the city’s development goals outlined in the 2016 Comprehensive Plan, which calls for a direct improvement of the street’s infrastructure.
The improvement project will include additional sidewalks, street lights, landscaping and road and sewer improvements. The sidewalk will include a shared use path on the western part of the road that bikers and pedestrians can use.
If the concept plan is approved by city council, funding will be sought from a combination of available city, county, state and federal transportation and roadway improvement funds, including possible CAMPO grants, said Ginger Faught, deputy city administrator for the city of Dripping Springs.
“Additionally, these improvements will also benefit economic development and property values along Old Fitzhugh Road,” she said. “And in the area north of downtown by facilitating multi-modal access and safer connections between Mercer Street, downtown and the greater ETJ (extra territorial jurisdiction) area.”
Currently, Old Fitzhugh does not have walkable sidewalks for residents or adequate lighting. The city is also looking to enhance the two-lane road.
Based on stakeholder input, highly sought-after items in the project include a paved sidewalk, along with the preservation of existing trees, Mercer Street lighting fixtures and structured rain gardens near sewage lines.
Some of the additions may be more expensive than others, which would be contingent on how much funding the project can accumulate.
“The planning and design elements do intentionally seek an extension and consistency with the aesthetic treatments and features of the Mercer St. Improvement Project, helping to create a harmonious look and feel between these two Historic Districts,” Faught said.