Road that could ease Vandegrift High traffic years delayed

Austin

AUSTIN (KXAN) — For some students in Central Texas, homework and extracurricular activities are not the only things on their mind.

Students at Vandegrift High School say when the bell rings, it’s a dash to their vehicles in hopes of getting ahead of the bumper-to-bumper traffic on McNeil Drive. 

“This is what it’s like every day. There’s a mad dash for everybody to get to their cars,” said Grant Shaffer, a senior at Vandegrift High School. “People are running, people are trying to cut each other off in traffic. It’s crazy.”

Along McNeil Drive sits Vandegrift High School, Four Points Middle School and several apartment complexes all using the road to travel onto Ranch to Market Road 2222.

“If I don’t run to my car, it’s like a 20-minute difference,” said Shaffer.

The school is aware of the situation and has been working for six years to build a second road. For now, short-term fixes are in place. The school will make sure the buses get out first, so students aren’t waiting in the heat, and school faculty are outside helping traffic flow. 

However, Shaffer believes more can be done. He suggests the district stagger release times between the middle school and high school to allow a break in the traffic congestion. 

In November 2017, voters approved a bond for the road, but the bond will only pay for the design and start-up of the project. It will not pay for the road itself. 

Leander ISD says it wants to build a road through the Balcones Preserve along a utility line. However, it is an environmentally sensitive area and it is waiting for U.S. Fish and Wildlife to approve its permit.

If approved, the public would have 30 days to comment before Leander ISD would be able to move forward with the project. 

“We’re confident that we’re putting together our best foot forward and we’re ready to work with U.S. Fish & Wildlife, to work with the county, and to work with the city of Austin and to make sure that we give a product that our families and our students deserve in the Vandegrift and Four Point schools,” said Corey Ryan, public information officer for Leander ISD.

The district says it expects to hear back from the agency by this December. Even if it’s approved, the school did not tell us how long the process would take to build the road.

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