TRAVIS COUNTY, Texas (KXAN) — County planners will present the final options for a new evacuation route for the Steiner Ranch neighborhood Thursday night before starting the design process later this year.
People who live in the neighborhood near Lake Travis have only one way in and one way out, and that caused problems in 2011 when a wildfire sparked nearby.
Images showed cars lined up along the road into the neighborhood with smoke billowing over the hills in the distance. County officials want to prevent something similar happening again.
Two of the three final designs, routes B and G, would serve only as emergency routes, equipped with gates on either end that would remain closed except during an evacuation. Those two options have other drawbacks, including that they would deteriorate more quickly without daily traffic and they would be diffidult for emergency crews to navigate, according to county planners.
The third option, route F, is favored by the Travis County Sheriff’s Office, Lake Travis Fire Rescue, and other groups.
That route would be a permanent two-lane road that the county says would be easier for emergency crews to use and more efficient at getting drivers to F.M. 620 during an evacuation. It is also the most expensive option, at $7.2 million, but the county says it would be eligible to federal grant money.
Voters approved $2.7 million in bond funding for an emergency route in 2017 and last May planners started the process of finding options to build it. Of 12 possibilities presented in August, three were selected to move on to the next planning phase.
People are invited to give feedback on the preliminary designs Thursday, April 18, from 6-8 p.m. at Canyon Ridge Middle School.
Once a route is chosen, planners will start the final design phase, and construction should begin in 2021.