FREDERICKSBURG, Texas (KXAN) — Fredericksburg has long been a destination for a weekend getaway to the Hill Country.
Over the years, that getaway has become more of a permanent destination for retirees and others who want to escape the city.
The best way to get to the Hill Country town from Austin is to take U.S. 290, which is also the best way for 18-wheelers to get from west Texas and I-10 to Austin and even Houston by bypassing San Antonio.
That’s arguably the chief reason the city of Fredericksburg, Gillespie County, and TxDOT are all working in unison to build what is being called a “relief route,” that will divert a bulk of traffic away and around from Fredericksburg.
The idea of a loop has been in the rumor mill and works for decades according to some locals.
“I would like to see [a loop]. But it’s a 10-year project — by the time you complete the study and get the funding and design it, build it, so you can imagine what our traffic conditions will be like in 10 years,” says Kent Myers, City Manger for Fredericksburg.
There are four proposed routes that all go around the city on the southern half of town. One of the routes puts the highway right through a peach orchard that belongs to Dianne Eckhardt.
“My grandparents planted some trees in a home orchard and then stared commercially in 1936 and we’ve been growing since then. The soil is what allows us to grow the peaches here,” says Eckhardt.
Should the finally route of the highway go though her orchard, the family business could be lost.
“We’ve strategically planted our orchards in these areas. It’s the right soil and you can’t just grow peaches anywhere.”
Myers says that anything that is decided at the state level in regards to the loop would have to pass muster with the voters of Fredericksburg and Gillespie County.
The city and TxDOT plan to hold an open house to gain public input on the matter in Fredericksburg on July 23 from 2 to 7 p.m. at the Gillespie County Farm Pape Event Center at 237 Equestrian Drive.
For more information on funding and other possible routes, click here.