Coun­cil wants Texas 130 project re­stored

Widen­ing of road to add third lane, ramp on hold af­ter gov­er­nor ob­jected.

Austin American-Statesman - - COMMUNITY NEWS - By Ari­ana Gar­cia ari­ana.gar­cia@cox­

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.

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