DEL VALLE, Texas (KXAN) — The City of Austin is working on improving its substandard streets. These are streets that do not meet the city’s safety, mobility and drainage standards.

At present, the city’s transportation department has identified nine substandard streets following a 2016 study. One of those is Ross Road in Del Valle.

  • Ross Road
  • Johnny Morris Road
  • Brodie Lane
  • Circle S Road
  • Cooper Lane
  • Davis Lane
  • Farm-to-Market 1626
  • Latta Drive/Brush Country
  • Rutledge Spur
Project Limits (Source: City of Austin)

“When we have these large-scale infrastructure opportunities, it’s important that we invest equitably in our communities,” said Vanessa Fuentes, the Austin City Councilwoman for District 2. “Because the fact of the matter is, we have substandard streets, largely on the east side of Austin that desperately need safety improvements.”

Ross Road falls under three jurisdictions. (KXAN Photo/Candy Rodriguez)
Ross Road falls under three jurisdictions. (KXAN Photo/Candy Rodriguez)

The city is focusing on the area between State Highway 71 and Pearce Lane and a section of Ross Road just southeast of Pearce Lane to Heine Farm Road.

This is an area in the county that has seen growth in the last several years.

“Ross Road has been a substandard road for years now,” Fuentes said. “It’s a very long process to go through to not only get the necessary funding to do the reconstruction but to ensure that our community is part of the process and that we’re actually making improvements that meet the needs of our community.”

The two-lane road feeds into Del Valle’s three schools and neighborhoods. There’s a lack of sidewalks and bike lanes, no turn lanes and the area doesn’t have a drainage system.

The city plans to reconstruct Ross Road into a five-lane, cross-section road. That means the city will add a lane in each direction and a median for turning.

They also plan to include pedestrian and bicycle improvements. The city hopes to get all the work done with the $35 million of the $53 million voters approved as part of the 2020 Mobility Bond. The rest of the funding would go to improve Johnny Morris Road between Loyola Lane and Farm-to-Market 969 (East Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard), Bradshaw Road and Nuckols Crossing Road which the Austin City Council is currently studying to determine the area of need.

In November 2020, Austin voters approved $460 million for transportation. (Source: City of Austin)

Austin Transportation Department Assistant Director Anna Martin said this has been a group effort.

“We’ve been working closely with TxDOT; they own the road as it gets close to SH 71,” explained Martin. “We’ve been working with the school district, of course, we want to maintain access and mobility through there as they serve three different schools. And, then, Travis County also owns a section of Ross Road. It’s taken all three jurisdictions to work together to bring these holistic improvements forward.”

Construction on Ross Road is expected to start in late 2023 and should take about 18 months to complete.

Another tool to help improve streets is called the Street Impact Fee. They’re one-time charges to new developments that help fund road projects. Collection on these fees is set to begin later next month.