AUSTIN (KXAN) — The Texas Department of Transportation plans to widen a section of Parmer Lane in Williamson County in an effort to cut down on rush hour congestion that drivers say is only getting worse.
TxDOT is hosting an open house Tuesday evening to collect feedback on the plans. It’s happening from 5 to 7 p.m. at Pearson Ranch Middle School, and the agency will provide information and answer any questions on the $45.8 million plan.
The proposal would widen Parmer Lane, also called Farm to Market Road 734, between Whitestone Boulevard (Ranch to Market Road 1431) and State Highway 45. It would create three lanes in each direction instead of two. The 4.4-mile stretch of road carries up to 37,000 drivers each day, TxDOT’s traffic count shows, and it can become a major headache for people trying to get home in the evening.
“There’s times that I have to wait probably five or 10 minutes just to get onto Parmer leaving the parking lot,” said Lori Honeman, a hair stylist at Finley’s Barber Shop.
The shop wasn’t busy Monday morning, in part, Honeman said, because a lot of their customers wait until the afternoon or evening hours to book appointments so they can get off the road, “not have to sit in traffic and come in and get their hair cut instead.”
The backups get so bad, she added, that often it takes her longer to drive the three miles from the barber shop to FM 1431 than it does to go the next 14 miles to her home in Liberty Hill.
“If we try to leave here at 5 [p.m.],” she said, “it’s just a nightmare.”
TxDOT wants to improve intersections along with widening the road, add bike lanes and sidewalks, and connect the road to the Brushy Creek Regional Trail for cyclists and pedestrians.
The city of Austin will contribute $17 million to the plan, TxDOT spokesperson Diann Hodges said, and $28.8 million will come from the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization’s 2040 Regional Transportation Plan.
Construction should take about two and a half years, Hodges added, and should begin in 2022.
If you can’t make it to Tuesday’s meeting, TxDOT wants to hear input on an interactive online survey through Oct.10. This is the first project in the Austin area the agency has used this type of survey for, Hodges said.
Whatever the feedback shows, Honeman said, she’ll just be happy to see the agency doing something to ease traffic. Even the headaches that will come with construction will be worth it.
“We would all put up with it just to be able to get where we need to go,” she said.