Residents ready to battle County on Corridor I2 project
By Kristen Meriwether
About 75 Liberty Hill area residents packed Main Street Social Wednesday night to discuss the local impacts of the Corridor I2 Project.
Williamson County is currently conducting a Planning and Right-of-Way Preservation Study for 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 study, funded by the voter-approved 2019 Road Bond, is part of the County’s Long-Range Transportation Plan that aims to plan and preserve right-of-way for future roadway projects as the county grows.
In mid-October, the County mailed 63 letters to directly impacted property owners on the east/west segment requesting to meet with landowners, discuss the project and learn about the properties.
A total of 65 parcels would be affected on the east/west segment and an additional 17 parcels on the north/south segment, according to the County. Landowners on the north/south segment have not yet been contacted.
Travis Redding and his wife Kerry own property in the northwest portion of the county near the Burnet County line. As currently drawn, their property would be the junction for the north/south connector.
They received one of the letters last month and at their meeting with the County found out the proposed expressway would run directly through their new horse barn on their property.
“They want to put a highway right through our dream property,” Kerry said.
The Reddings purchased the property in 2018, with Travis, a homebuilder, creating the design and building it himself. Construction was complete in 2019.
The couple organized the community meeting at Main Street Social on Wednesday night to speak with other landowners, but were surprised at the large turnout.
“I’m seriously blown away that this many people showed up,” Kerry said. “If that doesn’t tell you how important this whole thing is, I don’t know what would.”
Travis unpacked the proposed project as residents took notes, asked questions and shared stories from past county projects. Some asked why the County wasn’t choosing to widen an already existing road, like County Road 236. Others expressed concerns about the County using eminent domain if they refused to sell. No representative from the County was on-hand to answer questions or discuss the project.
Eminent domain may only be used once construction is funded. There is currently no funding for construction on the I2 Corridor.
“I care about this community, that is why we are reaching out to impacted property owners to ensure that they are aware of the project and invite them to work with us to make sure we get this right. We have to plan for the future and want the community’s input in doing that,” Williamson County Commissioner Cynthia Long said Thursday. “This corridor study and the other ones in the county will only be built when and if the project is needed in the future. The landowner meetings are the initial steps of the study.”
The County is currently collecting feedback from property owners and conducting field studies. Project engineers will use that feedback to refine the footprint of the project with the hope of reducing the impact to property owners.
According to the County, once the footprint is set it will pursue funding when the need arises to build the road. No timetable has been given and it is unclear what population or traffic milestones would need to be achieved to begin the process.
If the project makes it to construction, phase one will be a three-lane road, one lane in each direction and a center turning lane. It could be expanded to four, six, or eight lanes over several decades, depending on demand, according to the County.
Travis ended the meeting by urging residents to let their voice be heard by emailing Commissioner Long on the project and to issue public comment at County meetings. He also urged landowners to stick together.
“As soon as some of us start selling right away, that’s it,” Travis said. “If we have a line of resistance all the way down to (U.S. Highway) 183, they’re not going to take all of us by eminent domain.”