Liberty Hill couple leads fight against Corridor I-2 Project

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By Kristen Meriwether

In the corner of the entrance to the horse barn five handprints and two dogprints are pressed into a concrete slab. “Triple E Ranch 07.31.2021” is scratched above the prints, a reminder of when the slab was poured and dreams were realized for Travis and Kerry Redding.

The Reddings purchased the 50 acres off of County Road 236 in 2018 after they outgrew their eight acres in Leander. They were among the first to purchase a tract from the seller and secured their dream lot: one-third wooded, one-third partially wooded and one-third open.

It meant Travis could finally have towering trees without the din of city noise. It meant Kerry could finally realize her life-long dream to own and ride horses on her land. And it was all within a reasonable drive to the kids’ school and their respective businesses.

“I build houses, she’s been a real estate broker for a long time,” Travis said during a recent visit to their property. “So when we found this place, it checked off all the boxes for us.”

The tract provided plenty of open space for their house, which Travis completed in November of 2019. The wooded acreage was perfect for Kerry to ride her horses and the kids to create their own adventures. The family even named each tree grove, putting up wood signs noting where “Fairy Forest” and “Comanche Camp” are so the kids don’t get lost.

“We come out here and we trail ride and that’s what I always wanted,” Kerry said. “We can come out here and ride and it’s always like you’re somewhere different.”

After enduring the grueling February winter snowstorm without a permanent shelter for the horses, a new barn became the priority before the next winter. After a rainy spring, the slab was poured in July and the walls went up shortly after.

Kerry began picking out the fine details like colors of the doorknobs and saddle racks, and hanging tin signs. At the request of his wife, Travis burned each board on the stall doors with a torch to mimic shou sugi ban, the Japanese art of burning wood.

But as the barn neared completion in October, Travis and Kerry received a letter from Williamson County. The Oct. 12 letter stated that the County was conducting a Preservation and Right of Way study for the Corridor I-2 Project and requested a meeting to learn more about their property.

On Oct. 29, the Reddings had their meeting with the PR firm helping the County to conduct the study. They were shown a map of a new 7.3-mile expressway that would run east/west between U.S. Highway 183 and the Burnet County line, and a 4.1-mile north/south connector between the new expressway and State Highway 29.

The intersection was planned directly over their new barn.

“I went from walking up there and daydreaming about what it was going to be like, to walking up there and breaking down into tears every time,” Kerry said.

The County is currently conducting a study with 63 landowners and has no funding for construction. County officials say it could be a decade or more before anything is built. But that hasn’t stopped the Reddings from taking action.

“Would you want to wake up with a target on your back every day and wonder is today the day the trigger gets pulled?” Kerry said.

Less than a week after their meeting they organized a landowners meeting at Main Street Social. They expected a few dozen people but roughly 75 showed up. They gathered email addresses and created a newsletter for concerned landowners.

They also began posting in the Liberty Hill Bypass and I-2 Corridor Facebook groups which was created in April to discuss the Liberty Hill Bypass project set to begin construction next year. Landowners went through a similar process where the County requested right-of-way for road construction. The group has exploded with new members, reaching 1,340 as of Tuesday.

Kerry said she gets a lot of calls every day from other landowners who received letters and don’t know what to do, or people who simply want to help out.

The County appears to be listening.

On Nov. 11, landowners were contacted by the Corridor I-2 Study Team notifying them the study is being reassessed. Landowner meetings have been postponed until the week of Dec. 20.

“The project team has heard about new development and development patterns in the area, as well as about safety concerns regarding several county roads in the area,” Commissioner Cynthia Long said in an email to The Independent on Nov. 15. “I asked the project team to do some additional research in both of these areas before proceeding further into the study.”

Details about the developments were not given. Kerry said during her meeting with the Study Team the map they were shown was three years old and didn’t show their house or their neighbors’ houses, the barn or any of the roads and fences they built on it.

She also said when they asked why the County wasn’t widening CR 236, which already connects to U.S. Highway 183, instead of building a new road. Kerry said the team didn’t know where CR 236 was on the map.

For the past several weeks dozens of landowners have been working to collect data and information about their part of Williamson County that they feel should be considered before officials choose the path of the proposed expressway.

On Tuesday, nine of those landowners met with county officials in Liberty Hill to present the data. Travis described the meeting as productive, noting everyone from the County was receptive and took diligent notes. The County will meet with the small group of landowners on Dec. 19 to determine next steps.

As the County digests the data, Travis and Kerry will put the finishing touches on the barn and try to enjoy majestic sunsets at Triple E Ranch while they still have them.

“We’re not extremely religious, but we’re spiritual enough that I can tell you that we asked for this and it was given to us,” Travis said.

“We have a duty to protect it,” Kerry added.

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