In this post:
- Preface – how to stay informed
- Quick meeting summary
- County Presentation (posted 12/18) and Links including feedback
- Presentation content along with SRNA meeting notes
- Summary of questions and comments
- Ideas and mitigation list
Evacuation options for Steiner are not a new topic – the County has been looking at this issue since the end of 2011 after the fires of 9/11/2011. SRNA has been plugged in to this process over the years to ensure we are making progress toward a solution and like many things in the public domain this has taken some time. We first shared the direction of evacuation in the NW of Steiner at our 2014 annual meeting with Travis County presenting. Since then funding was identified (2017) and the County began to look for the best design options. In 2018, the County formed a working group to help evaluate options during the study phase. For most of the year this has been inconclusive with a dozen options being looked at, until November when the County began to coalesce on a handful of options that included for the first time an “open road” option. Now is the time when we need to be engaged as a community to help ensure we end up with the best option possible. The effectiveness of each option for its purpose, the impacts on our community – especially concerns of negative impacts, must all be studied carefully so that the best possible solution can be identified. To do this we need your help and involvement. Please take the time to familiarize yourself with the facts as they emerge. SRNA will do our best to keep you informed and to engage with the County to ensure that the big questions are being answered. Stay informed on this and other issues by signing up today. We will do our best to keep you informed as important information becomes available, including when you can engage and make a difference. Now is one of those times.
Quick Meeting Summary
Thank you to all who came out to the SRNA meeting Tuesday Dec 11 at 7pm. [ link to meeting notice and agenda HERE ] The meeting was conducted in coordination with the SRMA (who yielded time from their normal meeting at Towne Square Community Center to allow this meeting to happen in this space).
It was a very crowded room and everyone was very respectful of each others’ time during the evacuation discussion. Commissioner Shea was also in attendance to listen to the discussion. Representing the county, Steve W. a consultant hired by Travis County presented and Katharine Hardin the County official heading the option evaluation process helped answer questions.
In summary, the county presented three options, B, G and F. With B and G being evacuation only and F being open. At the meeting there was an indication by a resident in attendance that option B may not be viable due to owner plans to build – we will see if the county replaces this option with an alternate.
During the meeting we heard from the county and also took questions about all the options as part of a moderated community engagement. The goal of the moderated community feedback was to answer as many questions as possible about the options. Residents were encouraged to provide detailed feedback directly to the county using the official county supplied email address: SteinerRanchEvacRoute@gmail.com. There were quite a few answers provided and quite a bit that needs more work to answer. Please find some of our meeting notes below.
Prior to this meeting topic SRNA Chairman Brian Thompto announced a call for SRNA Board of Director nominations now through Feb 28, 2019. He also gave some opening remarks about the evacuation process and set the ground rules for the discussion. TXDOT’s Bryan Byron agreed to defer his presentation and will share a summary of RM620/RM2222 construction timeline within the next week which will be posted online.
Links and emails
Travis County Links:
Dec 11 presentation content along with SRNA meeting notes
Project goals and objectives
Steve W. discussed high level options and why the options are focused on the NW portion of Steiner Ranch:
- South evacuation routes involve an expensive bridge such a to Murfin Rd. or south from Quinlan Park Rd. The bridge would be on the order of $20-50 million and would require daily use to even be considered. Also note the bridge for example to span on the south would need to start back from the river to get the appropriate height, so would be a prominent change.
- Side note: the County is studying an option of where would the best place to put a bridge between 620 and 360 across Lake Austin, but this is not a Steiner focused project and is independent of this evacuation study (no scope or additional details were clear, however SRNA has inquired to learn more).
- East evacuations toward River Place would involve a significantly longer road on the order of 1.5 to over 2 miles and with a very high cost to navigate terrain. To minimize cost would likely need to ride along the ridge-line.
- Focus has been on NW with a goal of having a connection from a “collector road” one that is 30 ft. wide and able to help get significant number of cars per hour out of the area as a 3rd evacuation route. Flat Top Ranch Rd. can support 2 lanes of traffic with one breakdown on the side of the Road.
- Quinlan Park Rd @ 620 and Quinlan Park Rd. @ Steiner Ranch Blvd. intersections both failed (to support traffic volumes) in 2011 evacuation.
- Avoid Quinlan Park Rd. and Steiner Ranch Blvd. for any new option to enable contra-flow on Quinlan Park Rd. and to give emergency responders flexibility to mange scenario including blockage of that intersection.
- Desired result: provide 3 options for evacuation to enable evacuation in multiple fire emergency scenarios.
Steve W. also discussed the overall strategy to get people out in an evacuation:
- Additional work is being done to build on the 2014 plan as part of this funded scope (Note see SRNA link to public version of the existing evacuation plan here: http://steinerranchna.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/FINAL-Steiner-Ranch-WFP-Traffic-Control-Scenarios.pdf)
- There was significant learning from the 2011 fire. There will be coordinated control of signals with emergency responders in an emergency. This would likely include contra-flow both inside Steiner and out of Steiner on 620, up to 5 lanes of traffic in one direction toward 2222.
- Any new evacuation would be likely staged vs. evacuate all for many circumstances.
- Sheltering in place is also in plan for Longhorn Village and the Elementary Schools.
- There is an app from Travis County where you can receive information in the event of an emergency and hear directly form the incident commander: Travis County Emergency Information and WarnCentralTexas.org
Twelve evacuation route options were considered. Favored options shown in yellow.
At a recent agency stakeholder meeting (internal meeting in September with no public or area reps) emphasis was on the fastest way to get people out. This included significant input from emergency responders and resulted in the “open option F” to allow for daily use of the road.
There was a meeting with Westridge neighbors who would be most impacted by the option of an open road the previous week. Steve noted that multiple options are still in play and at that meeting on Dec. 5, the County “did not do the best job of communicating that”.
- Collect input on process
- Gather comments: website has email link
- Open house likely Jan or Feb 2019 where a recommended route will receive community input.
- Design May 2019, Right-of-way July 2018. Construction 2021 or 2022.
- Route C eliminated.
- Route B has only one lot and least expensive
- $2.4 million budget
Route F was added as an open option meaning that it would support daily traffic use. This change to open occurred recently.
[ SRNA has zoomed the following image of the park with the proposed road (approximate line from County) from the updated slide deck. Note the picture shown at the meeting had a line down the center of the park, but the county explained that was not where the likely road would be. A number of questions were related to the park impact and road location to scale and this update from the county appears to be taking a step in that direction. ]
Questions and comments
Questions were moderated to cover each of the options F, B, G. Most questions were related to option F and there were a number of general questions as well. There were a large number of questions asked and SRNA did not record them all or verbatim. If you see a question / answer not listed, please contact us: firstname.lastname@example.org.
A select number of the questions and answers are listed below based on notes. Questions without answers / pending response are listed as “Answer: Pending”.
- Q: would development be allowed along the new road for open option F. Answer: No development would be allowed.
- Q: Tell us how each plan works, please quantify things such as capacity and traffic volumes. When will you bring back numbers Answer: collect data when normal school. Would be done before open house.
- Q: Would an F that is closed and does not disturb park as much be possible. Why can’t we find way to pay for it. Answer: Funding beyond CAMPO has not been specified for this road. Pending if this is an option. ].
- Q: Now that planning for evacuation traffic is in place – why need new option now that improved. Answer: Need to find another “door” out of Steiner Ranch in much less time than 2011. Will use all doors in an evacuation including contra-flow.
- Q: RM620 grid-locked. How support evacuation. Answer: addressed in presentation – existing plan developed with emergency services based on 2011 event. Included shelter in place, contra-flow on roadways. This project will expand and talk about how far out will signals need to be controled on 620 in both directions.
- Q: Major concerns on home prices being off-set / home as an asset. (statement).
- Q: How will safety be accounted for if new option F road is built including roadway. Answer: one lane lane each direction and mitigations speeds, speed limit, many things can be done. Parking today on Flat Top Ranch – would be mitigated. Sheriff and emergency personal will consider safety implications.
- Q: When option F was endorsed by LISD, was it open option. Answer: Route F would be helpful in moving children in an emergency.
- Q: Can Flat Top Ranch Rd. really get multiple lanes of traffic going?
- Q: can you please provide a map drawn to scale width of road. Will there really be a park left at all. Answer, yes, map will be updated, great question. Need drawn to scale with parking, playground [ side note see above maps of park are updated since meeting, no word yet on ultimate design / ROW for road ].
- Q: Can we really get traffic onto 620. Will plans allow flow of traffic to go faster when emergency. Answer: In 2011 had no fire or expectation, on the fly and all evacuate. Now would only evacuate as needed and routing as needed. Will be proactive in event of emergency and will clear out 620. Follow-up desicussion about general evacuation desired at a future meeting.
- Q: is there an empty lot on Montview for option B. Answer: privately held, no building plans. Resident spoke up that owner of property has plans to build on the lot and is going through a process w/ a builder.
- Q: Volume of people affected by F vs. minimal impact of acquire property at market value to make individual whole.
- Q: B and G cited concerns w/ turn on 620 and not knowing where exit is: comment is these do not seem like valid “cons”. Answer: came from first responders – don’t want to think very hard in emergency to find exit.
- Q: Are numbers used in planning from 2011 (4000 homes vs. 9000) questions have asked to include how much adversely impact Flat Top but also please include how this could improve quality of life and savings for everyone else / community benefit. e.g. also are cars causing traffic counts from additional traffic or how much from existing, etc. Answer: Pending.
- Q: What is restriction on other options. Answer: J bwtween two properties – will disturb tow homes. A impacts six properties.
- Q: Would G be open or closed. Answer: closed. viable road, but expensive option and narrow. If someone parked on narrow roads might block traffic.
- Q: Will I be compensated for having road near my house. Answer: No offsetting.
- Q: Would evacuation route only for F (not open) be different design. Answer: would be same road.
- Q: Volume of traffic can get out in emergency. A: TXDOT 20k @ Quinlan and 620: 4.5k @ SRB and 620 – thinks could be similar at new access. Follow-up to further quantify.
- Q: Evacuation vs. multi-use. Evacuation not a big concern, but daily use is a concern. What is the traffic expected. For example, one way would be different: Answer: follow-up pending.
- Q: Can you show where the traffic would flow for option F. Answer: pending – county would want to show traffic flows.
- Q: Figures like $500k per acre for impervious cover – why not high cost for F. Answer: not paying those rates – land has no impervious cover restirctions on LCRA, etc. land (only HOA).
- Q: Who bonded how much. Answer: $2.7M in CO bonds from county (not HOA), about $2.1M left.
- Q: Consider caliche roads, would be cheaper (2-3x). Answer: will be concrete and asphalt, not maintainable or feasible, must be ready to go when you need it / all-weather surface.
Ideas and mitigations (received after and at meeting)
- There are many ideas floating around. Posted here are some we have received: Please email email@example.com to add to this list
- Make option F closed – use as pedestrian / hike/bike
- Mitigate risk of future development with deed restrictions – move control of land to HOA to give control and/or parkland.
- Increase park land utilizing new space along option F route.
- Parking lot in back of park w/o taking parkland.
- Mitigate traffic by restricting turns or direction of travel.
- Wall / noise / visual mitigators along route F.
- Stoplight at 620 and new proposed road
- Look at extending service road off Oxsheer Dr and make gated instead of through park.