General Plan 2020 meeting #2, part 1: Transportation
Meeting #2 was a Q&A session about citywide transportation and environmental issues with representatives of the City’s Transportation and Utilities departments. Both departments are in the process of major policy initiatives and long-term projects, and there was a lot of discussion with participants, so I’m summarizing in separate entries.
Presentation materials and participants’ responses:
Chief of Public Works operations Tom Word gave a summary of the City’s long-term transportation plans, which for the first time include significant investments in public transportation. It will not be possible to serve the anticipated ultimate population of the city (225,000-200,000 people, about the current population of Corpus Christi) just by adding traffic lanes. Currently the only public transit in Round Rock is a dial-a-ride service provided by CARTS.
Roadway Network: Mr. Word summarized the City’s ultimate roadway plan. The plan indicates more north-south arterials (new Arterial A, and extensions of Wyoming Springs and Double Creek Drive), as well as bicycle and trail improvements (refer to Transportation Master Plan web page).
Peak Hour Commuter Express Bus Service: Beginning this fall, the City will begin a 3-year pilot project offering peak hour express bus service from downtown Round Rock and the IH-35 – SH-45 area to Cap Metro’s Howard Lane rail station and the Tech Ridge park-and-ride facility. The annual cost of service is $500,000 per year, half of which is covered by a Federal grant. The $1 fare will cover up to 90% of the remainder, depending on ridership. If the service proves popular, permanent park-and-ride facilities will be constructed (refer to project web page).
Proposed commuter rail link: There is a possible opportunity to tie in to Cap Metro’s MetroRail service. The first line, from Leander to Downtown Austin, is due to become operational this fall. This line comes very close to the intersection of IH-35 and SH-45, and it may be feasible to extend a track down the median of SH-45 to a stop by the Dell Campus. Right now there are more than 15,000 jobs clustered within a mile of the proposed station. From there it could divide into north and south lines extending to Pflugerville and/or north to the Dell Diamond, universtity area and ultimately Georgetown. Both Georgetown and Pflugerville are interested in the proposal. Round Rock would buy trains and contract with Cap Metro to operate them. The proposal is currently undergoing feasibility studies (refer to the draft route map).
Next: Meeting #2, part 2: Environment