AUSTIN (KXAN) – Austin City Council members stayed on the dais until 1:20 a.m. Friday, debating an issue over which they have little control: State Highway 45 Southwest.
The regional road project would extend SH 45 SW from MoPac to FM 1626, south of Austin. The Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization, Texas Department of Transportation, as well as Hays County and Travis County Commissioners Courts have signed off on the plan.
Austin City Council members passed a resolution to oppose the project’s inclusion in CAMPO’s 2035 regional transportation plan, by a vote of six to one. Mayor Lee Leffingwell was the lone voice of dissent.
“I do believe this road will be built. I do believe it will be the most environmentally sensitive road ever built in Central Texas,” Leffingwell said. “It is a regional project. It is not the city’s say-so. If it is not built, it won’t be because of this resolution.”
Other council members said they wanted to make a strong statement to regional transportation partners to let them know they don’t agree with building the highway, or the development that may follow.
“All of the data suggests that building SH45 is going to increase our traffic woes on MoPac and it will make what is already a difficult traffic situation worse for many Austin residents,” Council Member Kathie Tovo said. “And it also poses very significant threats to some of our most environmentally sensitive land.”
The resolution also directed Austin City Manager Marc Ott to engage with the regional organizations building the road to evaluate alternatives and the environmental impact. Ott’s office is expected to report back to council within 90 days.