LEANDER, Texas (KXAN) — Liberty Hill ISD parents have reported bumper-to-bumper traffic at the intersection of Ronald Reagan Highway and Bar W Boulevard. The backup of cars has led to demand for a stoplight at the crossing but infrastructure leaders say that could take more than a year to do.
This stretch of Ronald Reagan Highway separates the Rancho Sienna and Bar W neighborhoods. Leander City Manager Rick Beverlin said while the road itself is in the City of Leander’s jurisdiction, the neighborhoods are their own municipal utility districts in an unincorporated part of Williamson County.
He said the rapid growth of the neighborhoods has led to more cars driving on the road as the subdivisions let out onto Ronald Reagan Highway. LHISD parents said the new Bar W Elementary campus that opened this school year has also contributed to the traffic problem.
Beverlin said because these neighborhoods are not in city limits they do not contribute to taxes, and by extension infrastructure, for the City of Leander. He said the city is now considering moving funds around from projects that have already been budgeted to accommodate the request for a stoplight.
He said the city is also talking with Liberty Hill ISD and Williamson County to potentially split the cost of this traffic light so it can be built faster. Beverlin estimates that cost to be $1 million.
“You’ve had a lot of development that’s outstripped the infrastructure. Be it roads, signals, or water faster than the city can really build it,” Beverlin said.
Parents say intersection is dangerous, worry about student safety
In the humid morning air, lines of cars wait to drop off their students at the doors of Bar W Elementary.
Chelsea Dawson is one parent that waits in the long line in order to drop her daughter off for class.
She said this intersection near the school has always had trouble with traffic, but the opening of the new school has made the problem more apparent.
“It’s not the commute that’s the problem. Safety is what my biggest concern is,” Dawson said.
Dawson said the drop-off traffic coincides with commuter traffic. She said fast cars have caused even more worry for her.
“They’re going 65-70, sometimes even faster. It is very dangerous to have to pull out into that, especially if you’re coming from where the school is – trying to make that left and go to the subdivisions,” Dawson said.
Beverlin said it’s likely that a temporary stoplight will be erected at the intersection, but the approval, bidding, and budgeting process for a permanent light could take more than a year.
“You do have a period where you have to accumulate the money, program it, design it, and then construct it as per state law. There’s a lot of boxes to check,” Beverlin said.