Potential road project raises resident concerns
By MIKE EDDLEMAN
One of dozens of road projects that can be found listed on the Williamson County website as part of the long-range transportation plan cuts a conceptual path through an area north of Liberty Hill, from US 183 to the east and arching around to SH 29 near the Burnet County line.
But many residents in the potential path of what is known as Corridor I-2 are not planning to wait to see what the County has in mind for the project’s future.
“My family found out about it about five weeks ago,” said area resident Kerri Plaskon. “Not a lot of people have heard about it, so when I shared it people had no idea it was something even being discussed or talked about.”
She was surprised to find the project she said she’d never heard of coming through her own land.
“The route they want for the corridor would cut through our property, probably hundreds of other people’s as well,” Plaskon said. “A lot of people are super concerned. Obviously nothing has been set in stone yet, as far as we know, but I know they’re looking at the area.”
Many residents in the area have rallied together, discussing how they might fight the project, even forming a Facebook group – Liberty Hill Bypass – to share information and communicate about it.
Plaskon said even being near the road would change their lives dramatically.
“If it’s not on their property it is going to be near it, then there’s going to be a lot more road noise,” she said. “We have a lot of hunters in this area and people who enjoy the wildlife. We’ve got endangered species out here. If there’s more road noise, more traffic through this area makes us wonder how it is going to affect us, and will it just keep expanding?”
Even though the plan has been part of the transportation plan, Plaskon and her neighbors are troubled by what she feels is a lack of information.
“If this is the proposed plan, you’d think you’d see it somewhere,” she said. “We had to go online and do a lot of digging before we could find it on the Williamson County website.”
According to the County, the corridor was added to the long-range transportation plan in 2016. The original plan was approved by the County in 2009.
Currently, a planning and right of way preservation study is being done on Corridor I-2 – funded by the 2019 county bond package approved by voters – by K. Friese & Associates. It began in 2020 and is expected to be completed in early 2022.
County Public Affairs Manager Connie Odom said there are no funds available for the construction of the project and if funds become available later the project would be done in phases, likely beginning with a two-lane road to be expanded, probably over several decades.
To Plaskon, such a road project in the area also means more development that worries her and her neighbors.
“The next thing is if it is not on our land, it concerns us that people will be wanting to buy up our land for more subdivisions,” she said. “That’s really what it’s for is to be put in for these really nice, big subdivisions that are going in.
“I’ve been here over 20 years and there are some things that money can’t buy,” she said. “Even if you get offered money for your land, you’re not going to be able to get again what you have now, not only because it is sentimental and full of memories, but because you put so much into your land in improvements and hard work that you’re never going to get back what you put in.”
Plaskon said that in addition to the personal property issues, that there are historical preservation issues to consider.
“We have historical land that’s right on the path of the proposed corridor down country road 202 is the Concord School that was established in 1883,” she said. “There’s a German wall that runs through our land and many others.”
With the new awareness of the possible corridor, and a Facebook page with more than 300 followers now, Plaskon said they are counting on getting attention as a group.
“I’m a firm believer in the power of numbers,” she said. “If 100 people show up versus five, you’re going to get your point across better. We’re trying to get as many people as we can to start showing up at these meetings.”
Beyond that, some residents are already seeking legal guidance.
“There are several residents that have already teamed up with attorneys,” Plaskon said. “They want to get a jump on it because you don’t want to wait until you’re getting knocks on the door from contractors doing surveys when they are about to be building. We want to stop it before it gets any further.”
The group does not believe the plan will assist with traffic issues in Liberty Hill, due to where they believe the traffic through town is coming from.
“A lot of that is coming from Marble Falls and Burnet,” she said. “You’ve got thousands of people coming from those places who work in Austin, so it’s not just Liberty Hill. It is congested. It takes me 45 minutes to get to Cedar Park, but I want to live out in the country and know I will have a longer commute. That’s the whole point.”
And a simpler fix to her is improving a road that is already heavily traveled.
“We’re thinking, why they aren’t trying to improve County Road 200?” Plaskon said. “It’s nice up until the Clearwater Ranch subdivision, where they expanded and put in the center lane, but once you get past that it becomes super narrow. It would be great if they could also expand 29.”