Evacuation: Pre-Open House Info and Travis County Q&A

Evacuation: Pre-Open House Info and Travis County Q&A

[Note questions from April 23rd meeting were appended below at the bottom of this posted and are pending a response from Travis County].

Travis County has scheduled an open house for April 18, 2019 at CRMS 6-8pm (see details HERE), to present evacuation improvement options in Steiner Ranch. The open house is expected to finally present all the information requested by our community including a traffic study for Route F. The open house will present evacuation plans as well as specifics of the route options (B, F, G). Some types of information will be specific to route F as it is proposed to be an “open road” (meaning for every-day use).

The County has previously indicated it recommends option F based on its utility. This open has also raised significant concerns from many residents living near Flat Top Ranch Road related to the daily traffic implications and associated concerns.

You are strongly encouraged to attend the open house as it will be a chance to learn about the impacts of the proposals and ask related questions directly to the experts from the County. Answers to most questions should be available at the open house including the results of a traffic study for route F.

If you have feedback on the proposals, especially after attending the open house or reviewing the materials, we encourage you to contact the County. The County is the ultimate decision makers on this issue; SteinerRanchEvacRoute@gmail.com.

SRNA has worked to help ensure that all options are explored carefully and that community questions get answered prior to any final decision on the proposed options. Over the past months we have communicated questions and concerns we are getting from the larger community to Travis County and encouraging a robust and thorough assessment of options. Questions and concerns documented at our January and March meetings were sent to Travis County for inclusion in their open house preparation; see below to find a collection of recent questions and answers from the County.

Materials to examine before Open House

If you have not already, we recommend you look over the material at the Travis County website before the Open House to get orientated so you will know what questions you would like answered there, there is an updated description of the project materials under “Project Status” on the County site, See: https://www.traviscountytx.gov/tnr/public-works/steiner-ranch-area-evacuation-route-design
Materials on the site include

SRNA previously sent a list of major questions received from the community which Travis County received has has worked to incorporate answers onto their web site and into their Open House presentations: See SRNA article: “Evacuation option evaluation – Next steps and community questions for Travis County”

Also, a summary of previously presented material from Travis County at the Dec 11, 2018 meeting in Steiner Ranch is detailed with additional context and slides by SRNA here: http://steinerranchna.org/evacuation-meeting-notes-dec11/

Travis County Answers Community Questions from March SRNA Board Meeting

Following are some of the questions and Travis County answers from attendees and SRNA based on our March SRNA Board meeting. Most of these were related to Option F as an open road. Travis County answers shown in bold, as “TNR:”. Additional SRNA comments follow, italicized in brackets [SRNA comment]:

  • Daily traffic information should be available and should be in context to number of cars on other roads in the area to get a comparison feel (vs. raw numbers).
    • TNR: A very detailed traffic study was performed and a final document will be available for review at the Open House.
    • [SRNA has requested that the traffic study results be presented relative to area roads – this was a concern/suggesting from an attendee at the March SRNA meeting.]
  • Option F: Major concerns on trail impact – what is the impact and will you re-create the trail system? Can you super-impose the trail and propose new trail. The trails are heavy used and a key asset for folks in this area.
    • TNR: A SRMA board member requested Travis County review the trails and Route F.  That review is underway.
    • [SRNA has inquired/requested if this will be available before the open house.]
  • Speed limit and speed mitigation / limitations will these be the same as Flat Top or alternate? Also, will there be limits on large vehicles, such as by weight, etc.  
    • TNR: Speed limit is set by a standard method and will be similar to existing traffic speeds.  We have not looked at traffic limitations, but will look into that possibility.
  • Could you share the impact assessment regarding real estate values.
    • TNR: We do not provide real estate valuation guidance or appraisal regarding private property.  However, in reviewing the Route F location, it is noteworthy that:  (a) the closest home in the neighborhood (north of the route) is approximately 175’ away from the proposed new roadway pavement; and, (b) nearly all other residences in the immediate area are located much further from — and at a different elevation than – Route F.    To minimize potential impacts – however nominal – to the few proximate homes, Travis County anticipates installing a visual barrier with vegetation and/or an earthen berm along the northern side of Route F.  Finally, residential property values can (and often will) include consideration of emergency access and other safety-related issues.
  • Will you address the big picture of evacuation plan and how it works and how any of these solutions really impact the bottom line for various emergency scenarios. A specific scenario (not the only one but one of interest) is for fire south of the Quinlan Park Rd. / UT intersection.
    • TNR: Neighbors in the south part of Steiner will have options in the event of a fire, shelter in place, evacuation to a refuge or evacuate as directed by the event Incident Commander.  An exit in the NW area of Steiner Ranch is beneficial to southern Steiner as a resident can avoid traveling through the northerly Quinlan Park Road & Steiner Ranch Blvd. intersection or the Quinlan Park Road & RM 602 intersection.
  • Specific question on modeling scenarios w/ various directions of. Wind, etc to  look at all contingencies – would be good to setup something like a demo to show. 
    • TNR: There are no plans to do a fire modeling demonstration… 
    • [SRNA will be in contact with LTFR who had mentioned such a demonstration may be available.]
  • Is there a way to preclude future development (private sale , etc.) on the Travis County owned land. e.g. we don’t end up w/ commercial there in the long run.  
    • TNR: Travis County has no plans for commercial development at the West Service Center.  We are not aware of a scenario that would allow commercial development on this Travis County property.
    • [SRNA: A follow-up question is whether Travis county choose to sell off any of the parcels in the future. If so, are there currently or could there be any deed restrictions to preclude development. We will advise when a response is received.]
  • Can you describe the traffic study methodology 
    • TNR: To be provided.
  • Can you please summarize the mitigations including any berm, wall, etc. envisioned or considered.  
    • TNR: An earthen vegetated berm is under consideration alongside Route F.  Specific locations will be determined based on final elevation and location with regard to homes.
  • Can construction near homes be mitigated – what will be done to minimize disruption to homes; e.g. limit construction to 9-3pm, no weekends… etc.
    • TNR: We are open to discussion regarding work schedule and project schedule.  Many items requiring coordination will be considered when we move towards finalizing a route including neighborhood concerns.

New Questions from April 23rd (post open house) SRNA special meeting:

Concerns / comeback questions for County (April 23)

•Trails should be made whole if option F built – what is plan ( this is something the county has started to engage on – options / final impact not yet clear ).

Motivation for new road:
•Quantify value of additional exit: For example: For a staged evacuation – what is the latency of the evacuation under existing plans vs. w/ additional build out options
•This should account for all the planned measures added since 2011 fire including contraflow on Quinlan, 620 traffic control plans and new brass, etc.
•What would be the requirements if SR was being developed as a new community today with respect to egress and ingress options; would the existing SR be compliant, and/or what additional access would be required.
•What would be “enough” to satisfy county legal obligations for improving evacuation; e.g. does it have to be a road, is there a minimum standard.

Alternatives to proposed options:
•Could Quinlan Park Rd be widened  to increase volume.

Concerns with Option F:
•How would the Option F be mitigated against fire hazards; e.g. cigarets out the window
•Note: WCID road has dangerous dry tall grasses today in summer
•Perfect for speeding – how to mitigate (e.g. traffic calming measures)
•What can be done to actively restrict cut-through traffic such as in the morning RM620 through SR.
•Has the county done an environmental study; What is the environmental impact;  Will any outside organization help review the impact.
•Lefts onto Optoin F new road from Flat Top Ranch Rd. could block traffic?

Request for fire marshal / managers:
• Conduct a simulation of notification system: build awareness and educate (possibly regularly).

•Question for SRMA: Can the HOA hold a member wide vote…..