Council wants Texas 130 project restored
Widening of road to add third lane, ramp on hold after governor objected.
The City Council is formally calling on the Texas Transportation Commission to reinstate a project to widen Texas 130 through Pflugerville as previously planned.
The $195 million project would add a third lane in both the northbound and southbound segments of Texas 130 from Texas 45 North to Texas 71 and build a connecting ramp from southbound Texas 130 to westbound U.S. 290.
City staff said the expansion is needed to enhance safety and reduce traffic along Texas 130 as the area grows. Pflugerville’s population increased by 77.2 percent since 2006 from 34,336 to 60,848, according to city documents.
“Regardless of your perspective on tolls — if they’re good or bad — it’s becoming an essential infrastructure facility for northbound mobility in our part of the county, and it serves Williamson County as well as Travis,” interim City Manager Trey Fletcher told council members during a meeting March 27. “Given the speeds and the volumes, I think it has become a safety issue, as well as a congestion mitigation issue.”
The widening project was suspended indefinitely by the Transportation Commission after Gov. Greg Abbott, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and some other Republicans in November called to shut down all planning and funding of new tollways across the state.
In early December, the Texas Department of Transportation received bids for widening Texas 130. Construction for the two-phase project was scheduled to begin in January with a completion date sometime in 2020, according to city documents.
Council Member Rudy Metayer said not reviving the expansion project would be a “disservice” to citizens.
“It’s an existing toll road and the applicable funds were already invested toward that,” he said. “If we’re not advocating for those funds to be put forth for our citizenry, we’re doing them a disservice.”
Mayor Victor Gonzales said the council will submit its resolution to TxDOT and plan to work with state Rep. Celia Israel, D-Austin, to leverage her influence in getting funds released for the project.
“The money that was allocated is sitting out there somewhere and it’s not being directed to tollways,” he said. “Hopefully we can use the money toward mobility in the state somewhere.”
Proponents for the project have said heavy use of Texas 130 has led to significant slowdowns during rush hour north of U.S. 290 and thick morning traffic between U.S. 290 and Texas 71.
Gonzales said the governor’s act to put a hold on the project was a “step backwards,” especially with efforts to alleviate traffic along Interstate 35.
“It also certainly would have been an economic boon to the city,” he said.
In 2017, the 91-mile road that stretches from Georgetown to Seguin registered 70.2 million total transactions, an 8 percent increase over 2016, according to TxDOT records. Texas 130 tollway revenues totaled $108.6 million in 2017, a 9 percent increase over 2016, officials said.