For the first time, Travis County has a long-range plan focused solely on transportation. The Travis County Commissioners Court adopted the Transportation Blueprint on Tuesday, after years of public input and research of safety considerations and demographic trends.
Staff members with the county’s Department of Transportation and Natural Resources had surveyed people about transportation in the region. While gridlock topped the list of concerns, officials were surprised to see what led the list of possible solutions.
“Believe it or not, it was not 'build more roads'; it was 'improve traffic management,'” said Scheleen Walker, long-range planning director for the department. “Folks here are very savvy. They know how to get improvements more quickly to ease congestion.”
The plan looks out to 2045 and includes a variety of approaches to ease congestion and improve mobility across Travis County. It includes road projects the county can do on its own, like widening Quinlan Park Road in West Travis County, and projects that would be led by other agencies like I-35 improvements and the proposed Green Line commuter train. All were given high support in the survey.
But while largely supportive of the plan, Precinct One Commissioner Brigid Shea worried about the potential for more road projects in the southern portion of the county between FM 1626 and I-35. She said she doesn’t want any sort of connection from I-35 to the new State Highway 45 Southwest and MoPac.
“It’s important that we all be clear that this is that building block that will funnel more traffic over the aquifer,” Shea told her colleagues. “I’m not opposed to roads; I just think we have to be very intentional and clear about where we put them and the impact it has on the environment.”
The county will review the plan every five years, and commissioners can amend it as needed. Staff said it is intended to complement the City of Austin’s strategic mobility plan and the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization 2045 Transportation Plan.
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