Steiner Ranch Evacuation Options (Closed / Open) Update & TXDOT Construction Schedule – Dec 11, 2018

Meeting: TUESDAY, December 11, 2018, 6:40 PM
(Evacuation discussion starts at 7:00 PM)
Location: Towne Square Community Center

[ Note venue change from Bella Mar to accommodate a request from SRMA to coordinate meeting agendas at one location ].

SRNA Monthly Meeting Agenda / Special Topics
  A.  6:40 PM: TXDOT project timeline for 2222 / 620
  B.  Call for SRNA Board of Director nominations
  C.  7:00 PM: Travis County Steiner Evacuation Option Presentation
        and Community Discussion. Until approximately 8:15-8:30.

Travis County has narrowed its options for a proposed emergency access road addition to Steiner Ranch. No decision has been made yet about what solution will best fit the Steiner Ranch area – (this is a change to what was communicated at a recent meeting held with Flat Top Ranch neighbors).

Tuesday, at TOWNE SQUARE, you can hear about the final set of options for improved emergency access presented by the County. A moderated discussion will include the opportunity to raise questions, concerns, and provide feedback.

Note: The County also plans to post-pone the Open House which was tentatively scheduled for December 18th to allow for further discussion of the pros and cons of each option prior to advancing any one option forward.

All proposed options are located off Flat Top Ranch Rd. to provide alternate access that does not go through the Quinlan Park Rd. and Steiner Ranch Blvd intersection. One of the options newly proposed by the County would add an open use road that would provide a third “general use” entrance to Steiner Ranch from RM620. Whereas all of the other proposed options are for “emergency use only”. Due to the change in scope of this specific proposal, it raises a number of important questions about the impacts of an open road that need careful discussion.

We look forward to seeing you Tuesday and plan to have a productive discussion. SRNA will do our best to document issue and answers. If you would like to convey any questions you want answered at the meeting please contact us:

Link to the Travis County website for Steiner evacuation planning

Wait – I thought the idea was to build an “Emergency Only” road?

Up until now all options have been for emergency only access. The County only recently proposed “option F” as a full service road.

Back Story – How did we get here?

Starting in December 2011, there were meetings with the County, emergency services personnel and SRNA to identify options for evacuation from Steiner. By 2013 the best options appeared to be in the NW portion of Steiner Ranch off of Flat Top Ranch Rd. The basic concept was presented at the annual meeting of the SRNA in 2014 (see page 33). Funding of $2.7M for this project was approved in March 2017 with construction slated for 2019 as an emergency only road.

After funding was approved, Montview neighbors on the “Low Water Crossing Road” side of the evacuation route raised concerns about “full time access” being granted in the future (retro-actively) for the emergency route – they were concerned with the prospect of future cut-through traffic from Steiner Ranch. After some protracted discussions, the County hired a consultant to review the evacuation options before proceeding with design. By 2018, the consultant started to present options to a working group in Steiner Ranch which in included SRNA, Steiner HOA (SRMA)  and “Montview” area representation. An open house was then held on August 9, 2018 to present the specific options to the general public. Note that all these options were considered “emergency access only”.

Open House option summary from August 9, 2018:

Travis County, then conducted  “internal stake-holder” meeting(s) after the public open house including on September 5, 2018. According to internal stakeholder meeting document  projects had been ranked prior to the meeting using a decision matrix, with the top options being (in order):  C ($2.2M), F ($7.2M), C1 ($5.4M), B ($2.4M), J ($2.8M) per page 26 of the document.  The plan per those meeting documents indicated that the next step was to narrow down to 4 alternatives and then to bring back to the neighborhood for consideration. However, according to Travis County, based on internal discussions with emergency services personnel and due to the perceived overall utility for both emergency and daily use, the County instead identified a single preferred option:  option-F but as an open (full time use) road.

The county perceived there to be high overall utility for an open option and planned to conduct an open house the week of November 26th to advance this option with the public. On November 13, Mr. Thompto of SRNA contacted the County ahead of a working group meeting scheduled for that evening and was informed that the County had a new plan for an “open” road using option-F or similar. Mr. Thompto advised that “the neighborhood was not designed with this access in mind, so it naturally raises questions of safety and congestion which might be insurmountable”, and advised to keep non open options in scope due to these significant concerns. At the working group meeting that evening, Mr. Rivera (also of SRNA) and Mr. Thompto advised the county of a number of the hazards, impediments and likely resistance there would be related to the county’s proposal.  Given the disproportionate impacts to the Flat Top Ranch area, Mr. Thompto advised the County to post-pone the open house, gather data on their proposal such as traffic estimates, and to meet directly with the Flat Top Ranch neighborhood to better understand acute concerns they may have prior to proceeding with any open-house or other advancement of the open road proposal. The county post-poned the open-house and  conducted a meeting with Flat Top Ranch area neighbors on Dec. 6 (SRNA and other neighborhood reps were was not invited). There was a strong negative reaction from many in attendance due to concerns about the traffic and safety implications of this proposal. Another significant concern was related to messaging that the open option was the only remaining option for evacuation.

SRNA has subsequently met with Travis County and they have agreed to again postpone the open-house which was now slated for Dec. 18, to add back options that include emergency only and to present these options to the public quickly utilizing the SRNA meeting already scheduled for Tuesday Dec. 11.

Additional information including the original evacuation plan with current facilities and some of the other emergency evacuation options considered may be found HERE on the Safety issues page.