County targets October for CR 200 work

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By MIKE EDDLEMAN

The long-awaited relief Liberty Hill drivers have been watching for is showing signs of progress, and may be in full construction mode in October.

The planned work at the intersection of CR 200 and State Highway 29 is in the final approval phase, and if the weather cooperates, Williamson County Pct. 2 Commissioner Cynthia Long said it should begin soon.

“We are really close,” she said. “We hope to begin construction by October, we’re thinking. It is going to be rain-dependent.”

The project is a joint endeavor between the County, Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) and the City of Liberty Hill.

The County awarded the bid in late August, but because the state is involved, the approval process is a bit longer.

“We went through the bid process, and because TxDOT is contributing some money to that we have to send it over to them and they have to concur with our procurement process. Once we get that, we will send the contracts to the contractor,” Long said.

Drivers may see some work being done now in the right of way, which is for underground utilities.

“AT&T is relocating their utilities they have to get out of the way anyway, so we anticipate all that coming together and being able to see dirt turn in October,” Long said.

The intersection improvements is the second project being done on CR 200, with the widening of the road at the intersection of Bold Sundown nearing completion according to county officials. Both projects are being covered by 2013 transportation bond funds.

Widening CR 200 at that intersection of Bold Sundown will allow for a left turn lane into the Clearwater Ranch subdivision, relieving some traffic congestion and improving safety. The developer of subdivision, Lookout Partners, has contributed $200,000 for the project. The total cost is $470,000.

The work at the intersection of SH 29 and CR 200 is to improve the approach from Loop 332 on the south side and add dedicated right and left turn lanes from CR 200 on the north side of the intersection.

The bid for the intersection construction was awarded to Cox Commercial Construction for $1.7 million at the Aug. 28 Williamson County Commissioners Court meeting.

The total cost for intersection improvements including engineering is projected at $2.06 million, primarily funded by the County, but the City of Liberty Hill ($100,000) and Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) ($520,000) have also contributed some funding.

“The whole goal of that project is to get rid of that bottleneck, especially if you are coming down 200 to turn right or left on Hwy. 29,” Long said. “That’s the mess right now with all the development up 200. The project at that intersection will be a huge improvement by itself.”

Drainage issues and the city’s plans for City Park also play into the planned road expansion. The rail line makes increased runoff and drainage needs an issue, meaning detention will be critical in the area.

The City of Liberty Hill is hopeful that rather than invest in detention on the east side of CR 200, that the County will help with drainage projects in the park that will both mitigate the drainage issue and help with park plans, but so far those talks have not produced the desired results.

“At this point, we’re looking at how we can do the improvements we need to do without disrupting the park or anything that is going on there,” Long said. “We don’t want to get in the way of what the City’s wanting to do in the park. We’re looking to see what we can do to have the least possible impact. Drainage is always a challenge on every road project.”

The City is looking to the County to help with box culverts that will allow for drainage between the current basketball courts and football field in the park, which will also allow for more parking options. The City is also offering options for detention in areas of the park. Negotiations between the City and County are ongoing regarding the drainage improvements, but no decision has been made.

The next phase of the CR 200 improvements will be widening it from the railroad tracks to Stagecoach. There is no definite timetable on that, but the cost is expected to be about $4.4 million. A corridor study from SH 29 to CR 236 with engineering and design has been conducted by the County at a cost of $590,000.

The eventual widening of CR 200 to four lanes is part of the County’s overall arterial plan, a part of the Long Range Transportation Plan put together due to the rapid growth in the county and the need to look beyond typical projections such as Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization’s 20-year plans.

Mike@LHIndependent.com

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