Forthcoming improvements on one of the state’s most congested roadways could have an impact on Hays County commuters.
On Aug. 30, the Texas Transportation Committee (TTC) voted to approve the 2019 Unified Transportation Program (UTP), which includes funding for major improvements at the U.S. 290 and Highway 71 intersection, known as the Y, near Oak Hill in Travis County.
The move to include the $440 million project into the UTP was seen as a “victory” by several current and former Hays County elected officials.
The Oak Hill Transportation Plan, which has been in the works for roughly 30 years, is aimed at addressing major traffic and safety concerns at the Y in Oak Hill.
The project calls for an overpass that will connect west Highway 290 and Highway 71; the highways will include a total of 12 new lanes built to help alleviate traffic concerns that have historically been an issue. Bike lanes and pedestrian sidewalks are included in the project’s plan.
However, the changes will not include a toll, despite original plans calling for implementation of a toll road.
The UTP’s budget identifies $75 billion worth of infrastructure and traffic improvements over the next ten years throughout the state, including an estimated $440 million dollars for the Y.
Hays County and Travis County representatives urged the TTC to keep the project going. That list included Will Conley, current Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization chairman, as well as Hays County Precinct 4 Commissioner Ray Whisenant.
“When these improvements are finished and complete, the citizens of Hays, Travis and Burnet counties could potentially be saving around 30 minutes of their commute time,” Conley said. “We remain aggressive to try to put as many assets on the ground as possible to not only meet the demands of today, but also the demands of the future.”
Conley said the county and state will continue to look at infrastructure and roadway improvements for the future to stay proactive, not reactive, on tackling growth.
According to the commission, Texas is adding around 1,200 new Texans a day and the state is projected to break 54 million citizens by 2050, a major incentive to approve the funds in the UTP.
The county is trying to stay proactive with how we work with our growth, not reactive, and this project is a testament to that, Conley said.
“This will give us better opportunity to address safety and mobility,” Whisenant said. “The importance of this project spans beyond just the lines of Highway 290 as the communities of Hays and Travis County will benefit from these improvements.”