ROUND ROCK, Texas (KXAN) — There are plenty of pumpkins to choose from outside St. Richard’s Episcopal Church along US 79, and there is no shortage of noise either.
“This is what you hear the entire time we’re here,” explains Sherry Gillespie. Gillespie and her husband hear cars whizzing by the patch, and when they aren’t selling pumpkins, they’re in the middle of the mess. “I usually take an alternative route when it’s the busy time.”
Traffic keeps getting worse along US 79 — something the couple didn’t have to worry about when they moved to Round Rock 16 years ago. “Rush hour, you don’t even want to get on 79 right now, whereas beforehand it was never an issue,” said Warren Gillespie.
The state is now trying to address the backups. The Texas Department of Transportation is looking at adding two more main travel lanes, to make it three lanes in each direction. They’re also considering adding overpasses at some of the main intersections, like at Mays Street and US 79.
But with the construction, could come more headaches, at least temporarily. “I know it will be painful because they’ll be down to one lane and that will cause a lot of traffic congestion, but I think in the long run they have to do it,” explains Sherry.
The number of cars driving through this stretch of US 79 rose significantly in just one year. Between 2015 and 2016, the number of cars traveling on US 79 just east of Interstate 35, jumped 7.5 percent. Further east near A.W. Grimes, traffic increased 8.5 percent during the same time.
TxDOT also recently added another left turn lane on US 79, heading south on I-35. Crews still have final paving to complete, which is expected to happen in the Spring or Summer of 2018, when the weather warms up.
Before TxDOT moves forward with the expansion plan, residents can share their thoughts via mail or fax to:
TxDOT Austin District
Attn: US 79 Project
P.O. Box 15426
Austin, TX 78761-5426
Fax: (512) 832-7157 (Attn: US 79)
The deadline to submit your input is Friday, Oct. 13.