About 45 people attended the first in a series of open houses Tuesday to provide input and learn more about the future of a six-square-mile area around the Seward Junction intersection.
On hand were engineers from Loomis Partners, the firm hired by Williamson County to conduct an Improvement Study of the area. They brought with them charts of the study area that displayed existing conditions and roadways, and current and future land use.
“There is no plan yet and there is no funding for any construction,” said Tracy Bratton, senior project manager for Loomis Partners. “We’re here with a blank slate soliciting input. We have no preconceived ideas of what to do.”
Precinct 2 Commissioner Cynthia Long, who represents Liberty Hill on the Commissioners Court, was not present Tuesday, but spoke by phone with The Independent.
“The ultimate goal is to make better connectivity around the Seward Junction area,” she said. “We want to help traffic flow and improve safety, and in the process, hope to provide an opportunity to help economic development in the area.”
The project area is divided into four quadrants. The Southeast quadrant is bordered by CR 259 and CR 260. The Southwest quadrant includes CR 263 and undeveloped property adjacent to and incuding Capital Aggregates’ property.
The Northeast quadrant includes CR 260 and CR 258, and the Northwest quadrant includes CR 213 and Stonewall Parkway.
The area around the intersection of State Highway 29 and U.S. Highway 183 was chosen for the study because of anticipated population growth. Projections provided Tuesday show Williamson County could grow by 80 percent between 2010 and 2040.
According to an information sheet provided to visitors Tuesday, “The area is highly trafficked and connectivity betwen the surrounding county roads and the intersection is lacking. Residential development is booming and many companies are looking for an opportunity to develop in the area. Additionally, some of the county roads are narrow and not easily accessible.”
Commissioner Long said funding for future construction would be contingent upon a future bond program — the timing of which has not been determined.
She said she and project engineers have already met with some effected landowners in the area.
“This has been on our radar for a number of years,” she said. “There are so many positive things that can come from this — not just safety and improved mobility, but also economically for the city of Liberty Hill.”
She said it was important to start the public discussions after construction at the intersection itself was nearer completion.
A public involvement firm, which was hired by the County to introduce the project to the community, will collect comments from the community and provide those to engineers. At some point, the engineering firm will recommend improvements to the area, which will be followed by more public meetings in summer 2012. Those recommendations will be finalized after those meetings.
Funds for the study were provided with voter approval of a Road Bond Program in 2006.
The second public meeting will be from 5-8 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 6, at Union Hall Baptist Church, 301 CR 259.
Individuals may also go online to submit input on the project area. The website www.roadbond.org contains maps and other information. The firm is also accepting phone calls at (512) 943-1195 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.