AUSTIN (KXAN) - Relief might be on the way to one of Austin's most congested areas -- the so-called Y in Oak Hill.
The Texas Department of Transportation is installing turn lanes on U.S. 290 near Ranch Road 1826. The project could take two years to complete.
Another project will begin this summer. Crews will put in what are called "continuous flow" intersections between the Y and Joe Tanner Lane. That's going to take longer - 19 months -- to complete.
But this means oncoming traffic won't have to stop for people turning left off of U.S. 290.
And the Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority is stepping in with some big-picture thinking. The organization has rolled out eight different long-term alternatives to the current traffic flow.
"We want to make sure we develop something that is sustainable, that is environmentally friendly," said Mario Espinoza of the Mobility Authority.
But just finishing the environmental study - which started last October - will be a long road, because they have to engage and educate the public.
"The earliest it can be completed in terms of the study is going to be some time in 2015, pushing to 2017," Espinoza said. "You cannot begin construction of the project until you've completed the environmental study."
Still, these new designs put a visual component to plans that have often been debated over the last 25 years. In fact, this is the third environmental study TxDOT has undertaken, the others scuttled due to the passage of time (environmental studies have a shelf life of three years) or funding was delayed. This latest study is being funded with state and federal dollars, according to TxDOT.
And for the first time, a virtual open house during the month of May will allow the public conversation to continue. OakHillParkway.com is the site where people can go to also look more closely at the eight concept plans and to give their input.
The plans include options such as putting part of the Highway 290 corridor below grade and adding fly over ramps to connect Highway 71. Other elements include adding service roads and building out existing pedestrian or mixed use trails, sidewalks and bridges where needed.
The next public meeting is set for November.
Pending further public hearings in 2015, the final recommendations of the Oak Hill Parkway environmental study will be complete sometime in 2016. The Federal Highway Administration would have to award a Finding of No Significant Impact before any long term solution could begin.
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