Controversial Travis Co. road through undeveloped land a possible bond project

A proposed project for a fall bond package in Travis County would replace this private road with a public paved one between SH 71 and Hamilton Pool Road. (KXAN/Chris Davis)
A proposed project for a fall bond package in Travis County would replace this private road with a public paved one between SH 71 and Hamilton Pool Road. (KXAN/Chris Davis)

LAKEWAY, Texas (KXAN) — Travis County officials held their final public meeting Thursday evening to collect input for a long list of project proposals being considered for a bond election this fall.

It was standing room only at the Lakeway Activity Center, many people there to support a plan for recreational fields for youth sports teams in the western part of the county.

The Citizens Bond Advisory Committee held five prior meetings around the county to discuss the projects and update the list based on priorities.

The total cost for all projects currently considered is around $1.13 billion, but the final funding level for this bond will be far lower.

CBAC officials said the Commissioners Court, the final authority, will likely choose projects totaling $100 million-$150 million in voter-approved funding. It’s still not clear how much more, if any more at all, the bond measure would cost property owners; there might be enough in current tax revenue to cover the bill.

One project on the list is generating some controversy: a proposal to build a road that some worry will pave the way for more development.

Michael Boatright is the opposite of worried. He co-owns Crossfit Lake Travis — a gym that’s harder to find than most.

“We had a billboard for a while, we have our sign out on the highway,” he said, “but what drives people to the business nowadays is our online presence.”

The gym, a nondescript metal building, sits right off State Highway 71 in the Spicewood area in western Travis County on the very short public stretch of Reimers-Peacock Road. Not far past his business it turns into a private road on private property.

On the other side of that property, where people have built homes along the dirt roads that traverse it, is Hamilton Pool Road. There’s no paved public connector that links SH 71 and Hamilton Pool, which, headed west, only split farther away from one another.

Boatright believes he’s missing out on drive-by customers.

“Having a cut-through directly to Hamilton pool would be great,” he said. “If they were taking this cut-through to get back and forth to work or just to go eat at La Cabana [Grill], they’re going to drive right by our place of business.”

The proposed bond item — a $15 million, 3.5-mile, two-lane road — is what he wants. It’s one of more than a hundred projects the CBAC originally considered.

Members gave the proposals an A, B, C, or D to denote their priority; because of the strong opinions about this project, “they put a question mark by Reimers-Peacock,” CBAC vice chair John Langmore said.

The CBAC has heard a lot about the project at previous public meetings, both pros and cons.

A representative for Lake Travis ISD told KXAN by phone Thursday the district supports the idea to facilitate easier movement as their student body continues to grow.

Langmore said first responders support it, too, with plans to build new stations on either end of the now-dirt thoroughfare between the two major roads. “So they were hoping for access across Reimers-Peacock for the sake of EMS and fire,” he said.

But there are plenty of voices against. People have to sign up to speak at the public meetings, and county employees who keep tabs on the forums said there are always a number who speak against the project.

The area is mostly undeveloped. Except for a few houses scattered through the property, the land between SH 71 and Hamilton Pool is wild terrain with a few dirt roads carving occasional paths.

People who live nearby — and people who don’t — want it to stay that way, Langmore said, “and so they don’t want anything to serve as a catalyst for future development.”

The project might not make the cut for the final bond package; in fact, there might not be a bond package at all. The Commissioners Court will decide whether to put one forward at all in November and what will be on the voter-approved list if they do.

But Boatright is hopeful. He’s heard the same kind of road rumors before.

“This lends some legitimacy to something, again, that’s just been this pie in the sky thing,” he said.

The voter-approved project total does not include those identified as public safety projects, such as road and bike safety and drainage projects. The Commissioners Court will decide, without putting up for a vote, which of those will move forward.

If you didn’t go to the public meetings but still want your voice heard, you can contact the CBAC here. Plus, the committee will continue to hold meetings, and though they are not officially public input sessions, the first few minutes of each meeting is open to public comment.

KXAN.com provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Users who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s