Posts filed under 'News'
July 7th, 2007
Click here to listen to the show >>>
Now that the Texas Legislature has gone away, CAMPO and TxDOT are moving forward with their transportation plans, and it seems there is much focus around the Oak Hill area in the Southwest part of Travis County.
As head of CAMPO, Senator Kirk Watson has mandated various organizations of the Oak Hill area to come together in a “mediation” moderated by a University of Texas policy group to help determine the transportation options. This process, though promising and novel, also points out the challenges that we as a community face in actually building legitimate community dialogue.
According to attorney and neighborhood activist, Tim Mahoney, “It’s kind of like making sausage without knowing where the meat came from or where the sausage is going. Too often, such community building processes are too little too late, without the conscious intention of building better and more serious decision-making opportunities. With the CAMPO mediation process only a couple of week’s old, it may be burdened by its goal of getting to ‘Yes!’”
Join moderator Tim Mahoney and guests from local organizations of the Oak Hill Y to discuss what is moving forward and what is not on Wednesday, July 4, 12 - 1pm on KOOP radio 91.7FM.
April 26th, 2007
April 16, San Marcos—The Hays County Commissioner Court unanimously voted to pass a resolution that supports the efforts of the Fix 290 Coalition for a grade level parkway alternative to TXDoT’s vision of an elevated tollway through the middle of Oak Hill.
290 West is the main entrance into Austin for a great many Hays County residents, and the Hays County Commissioner’s Court wanted to support the efforts of the citizen group Fix 290.
Three weeks ago, a group of Fix 290 members gave a presentation to the Hays County Commissioner’s Court. Kathi Thomas, Carol Cespedes, Elizabeth Seiler and Steve Beers traveled to San Marcos to give the presentation and answer questions from the Court.
The resolution was put forth by Commissioner Karen Ford, whose precinct comes closest to the construction area, but the entire court supported the resolution.
Carol Cespedes said “We are thrilled to have the support of the Hays County Commissioner’s Court and hope that this will remind CAMPO and TxDOT that the parkway study voted by CAMPO in October must be completed quickly and in a fair and thorough way.¨
A RESOLUTION OF HAYS COUNTY
WHEREAS, a well-constructed and well-designed road improves mobility, improves commercial activity and increases property values; and
WHEREAS, in the National Highway System Act of 1995, Congress directed that designs for new and reconstructed highways take into account: (1) the constructed environment of the area; (2) the natural environment of the area; (3) the aesthetic impact of the road construction, and (4) the community impact of the road construction; and
WHEREAS, the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) expansion plans for U.S. Highway 290 West from Joe Tanner Lane to Scenic Brook Drive in Travis, County, TX have been on the drawing board since the early 1980’s; and
WHEREAS, TxDOT’s current plan will expand the existing four-lane highway to an elevated toll way, including a stacked flyover at the intersection of Hwy 290 West and Hwy 71 with a minimum elevation of 50 feet; and
WHEREAS, the construction of a project with so much elevation will necessarily generate dust, noise, pollution and traffic delays for the duration of the construction phase; and
WHEREAS, the choices for through traffic will be to pay tolls or to exit off to local grade-level roads also shared by the Oak Hill neighborhood and area businesses thus increasing the likelihood of increased congestion and time delays; and
WHEREAS, many citizens of northern Hays County frequently travel daily through the intersection at Hwy 290 and Hwy 71 on their way to work and for business in Austin, TX and will be required to pay tolls or to face congestion along grade lanes and local streets; and
WHEREAS, the Capitol Area Metropolitan Planning Organization in October 2006 unanimously directed TxDOT and CAMPO staff to study a grade-level parkway alternative for 290W rather than the six elevated lanes and six frontage road lanes now planned; and
WHEREAS, the Fix290 Coalition, an alliance of neighborhood associations, nonprofit groups, businesses and individuals in the Oak Hill and northern Hays County areas have been actively working to develop a viable alternative to the elevated toll road plan; and
WHEREAS, an alternative proposal by the Fix290 Coalition maintains the road at grade level, eliminates the three-level flyover at the “Y”, could reduces overall project cost and time to build, enhances business access, reduces impervious cover, increases connectivity, enhances the landscape, and eliminates tolls while also reducing congestion, expands capacity and maintains the flexibility to expand to meet future needs.
NOW THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED THAT the Hays County Commissioners Court does support the efforts of citizens in seeking a context sensitive solution for mobility improvements at Hwy 290 and Hwy 71 and requests CAMPO and TxDOT to give serious consideration to the grade-level parkway alternative.
ADOPTED THIS THE 17th DAY OF APRIL 2007.
Elizabeth Sumter, Hays County Judge
Debbie Gonzales Ingalsbe
Commissioner Precinct 1
Jefferson W. Barton
Commissioner Precinct 2
Commissioner Precinct 3
Commissioner Precinct 4
Linda C. Fritsche, County Clerk
April 11th, 2007
On April 5 Fix290 hosted a public forum on Highway 290 with Commissioner Gerald Daugherty as the featured speaker. The turnout was impressive, especially for the Thursday before Easter.� We confounded expectations for a small grassroots organization by packing the room!� We counted more than sixty people in an audience that included State Representative Valinda Bolton, Travis County Commissioner Sarah Eckhardt, Precinct 3 Justice of the Peace Susan Steeg, Precinct 3 Constable Richard McCain, and Joe Morris, aide to State Senator Jeff Wentworth. All were there to hear the Commissioner state his position on the Hwy290/71 West project and answer questions about the long-anticipated improvement of the highway through western Oak Hill.
Fix290 had publicized the Forum widely and we expected a roomful of diverse opinions.� Diversity was there, but there was no conflict, no confrontation between hardcore developers and hardcore environmentalists. What emerged from the audience was a series of serious questions on many aspects of the transportation dilemma.
Yet the audience heard little new from the Commissioner. Daugherty said what we have heard him say before, which boils down to - he’ll buy any road that TxDOT will build.� He does not want to exercise any control over TxDOT -� but he seemed to present himself as something of a gatekeeper. He said that we could all talk to TxDOT and he would actually help us get meetings with them. Let us presume he means with top level decision makers (Bob Daigh) rather than community relations people with no authority. Contrary to what the Daugherty stated, Fix290 has not been able to schedule serious meetings with TxDOT.
Fix290 leaders were shocked that the Commissioner did not seem to remember the October vote of the CAMPO Board ordering TxDOT to prepare a study of the parkway compared to their design. The Commissioner seems to be in close communication with TxDOT. Does this mean that TxDOT is just hoping we will all forget about it?
The overall picture may have looked discouraging to Oak Hillians impatient to have their highway finished.� Bruce Melton reviewed the reason for the environmental delays (four permitting hurdles that must be passed by TxDOT’s new design.) Now it looks like there are delays on top of delays. Environmental delays. Financial shortages. And a probable Toll Moratorium bill (which the Governor will probably veto).
What we still don’t understand is “Why not the parkway?”� It has less impact than the TxDOT design and would pass the environmental permitting much more easily.� It will cost less - perhaps 50% less - than the TxDOT design. And if it doesn’t include toll lanes, it won’t be included in the toll moratorium. So what’s the problem? We are still waiting for that answer.
March 2nd, 2007
Today is indeed a time for celebration. Yesterday hundreds of Texans
showed that the ordinary people of this state still have the
independence and determination to stand up for their rights. The toll
road hearing before the Senate Transportation and Homeland Security
Committee was a phenomenon - drawing people of many political
persuasions from all over the state, all saying “no” to private toll
Many Fix290 supporters attended and gave comments at the hearings
which lasted until they had to close the capitol down. Kathi Thomas
gave us an account at the Fix290 Forum last night. She noted a major
change that has not been mentioned in the news stories: Both elected
officials and private citizens are publicly challenging TxDOT. TxDOT
is being criticized for fiscal irresponsibility and lack of
transparence. The idol has feet of sand!
Our own Bruce Melton made an outstanding powerpoint presentation that
honed in on TxDOT’s engineering failures as well. Bruce, who was
fresh back from a winter camping trip through the Rockes, was pulled
in as our main speaker when our scheduled speaker suffered a back
injury and was unable to attend. The points he made were powerful.
They need to be made again and again until the public and our
leadership thoroughly understands:
TxDOT cannot build the road they brought to us last year as a
certainty. They cannot build it because they bungled all the
environmental permitting by failing to submit relevant data to the
Army Corps of Engineers, TCEQ, and US Fish & Wildlife. That is why
the construction is delayed.
What Fix290 is saying to TxDOT now is “tell us what you are doing.”
TxDOT prefers to do their redesign in secret and spring it on us when
complete. We ask they to include some community input during the
redesign and therefore have a better chance of getting it right.
You can view video of the hearing here� >>>
February 24th, 2007
Nina Butts, Carol Cespedes and Karon Rilling gave 3 great presentations at the CAMPO meeting on January 22nd. Watch the movie here >>>
January 7th, 2007
Bruce Melton, P.E., who has acted as the pro bono engineering consultant for Fix290, last week mailed this important letter to a list of leaders in the Oak Hill community. It details how TxDOT’s elevated highway plan has caused caused normous delays in the Highway 290 West project because of its failure to meet environmental standards required by law. Fix290’s less expensive and more efficient and fiscally responsible proposal would solve that problem while meeting traffic capacity as well as or better than TxDOT.
Download it here >> (200k pdf)
January 1st, 2007
Texas Transportation Institute report suggests indexing the gas tax to inflation would eliminate the need for toll roads.
A new Texas Transportation Institute report suggests future road funding can be more efficiently raised through existing gasoline taxes without the need for adding a complex toll road infrastructure. Transportation researchers Tim Lomax and David Ellis presented the study to the Texas legislature’s Study Commission on Transportation Financing on November 28. It looked at the transportation needs of the states eight largest metropolitan areas and found an extra $44 billion in new road capacity would be needed over the next 25 years, a number substantially different from the one the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) has been using to promote the expansion of tolling in the state.
Download the full report here >> (1.4 MB pdf)
November 30th, 2006
How Can the Parkway and Town Center Work Together?
Oak Hill business owners are excited about the Town Center idea and the possibility of a Transit Oriented Development at the Y in Oak Hill. But they are also worried about the highway - especially access and construction delays. We’ll take a look at how the parkway can benefit a smart urban development at the “Y” and also talk about related issues like bike and pedestrian trails and open space.
with special guest speaker:
Austin Neighborhood Planning & Zoning
Date: Thurs., Dec. 7, 2006
ACC Pinnacle Campus
Student Commons Room
Time: 7:00 PM
November 30th, 2006
At Southwest Hills Community Church, 7416 Hwy 71 W, 9 AM-12 AM
November 29th, 2006
It’s unfortunate that Mr. Strange doesn’t know that Fix290’s alternative could be built faster than TxDOT’s elevated toll road, but we hope he now knows about our plan!
Read and watch the video here >>
- Austin Sierra Club
- John Dromgoole's Natural Gardener
- Burger Tex
- Croissant Time
- Hill Country Alliance
- Edward Jones Investments
- Save Our Springs Alliance
- Scenic Brook Food Store
- J Brandon’s Hair Salon
- South Windmill Run Neighborhood Association
- Oak Hill Scuba