Round Rock - Pflugerville - Hutto Edition | November 2020

TRANSPORTATION As Hwy. 79project evolves, businesses brace for impact

BY KELSEY THOMPSON

THE ROADAHEAD

The city of Hutto was named a recipient of a $1.4 million grant from the U.S. Department of Transpor- tation Sept. 22, paving the way for additional improvements planned for Hwy. 79. The additional money will fund upgrades to the railroad grade crossing at Hwy. 79 and FM 1660 S., as well as the addition of a right-turn lane from FM 1660 S. onto Hwy. 79. Hutto City Engineer Samuel Ray said the improvements are welcomed, adding they would help improve trac ow and safety at the intersection. “WE’RE TRYING TO ... KEEPOUR BUILDING, OUR PROPERTYAND OUR EMPLOYEES SAFE.”

After receiving a $1.4 million federal grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation, the city of Hutto will add its Hwy. 79 railroad crossing project to three voter-approved 2018 bond projects. 1 FM 1660 N. at Limmer Loop

improve safety with the intersection,” Ray said. Gauging public feedback The city hosted a virtual transpor- tation open house in August detailing the three FM 1660 projects, prior to receiving the federal grant. The Farrs said that, while they attended the virtual open house, there was not a moderator overseeing the presentation, and the lack of engagement made it more dicult to have questions answered in real time. They said their primary focus is receiving direct communication with the city regarding these potential changes. Ray said the city has received Timeline: The project has an anticipat- ed construction start date of fall 2021, per city documents Funding source : city of Hutto 2018 bond 3 FM 1660 S. at Hwy. 79 Improvements include widening the roadway to three lanes from Hwy. 79 to Austin Avenue. A dedicated left- and right-turn lane will also be incorporated from FM 1660 S. to Hwy. 79 and a right-turn lane from eastbound Hwy. 79 to FM 1660 S. Status: project design completion anticipated in spring 2021 Project improvements include the addition of dedicated through lanes as well as intersection turn lanes. A pedestrian path will be added along northbound FM 1660 and eastbound Limmer Loop, per city documents. Status: project design completion anticipated in fall 2020 Timeline: The project has an anticipat- ed construction start date of summer 2021, per city documents. Funding source : city of Hutto 2018 bond 2 FM 1660 N. at Hwy. 79 Enhanced features to FM 1660 N. include additional right-turn lanes from FM 1660 to westbound Hwy. 79 along with additional right-turn lanes from Hwy. 79 to FM 1660 N. Status: project design completion anticipated in fall 2020

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TROY FARR, COOWNER OF TEXAS PAWN AND JEWELRY

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feedback from several business own- ers regarding the project. He stressed the city is not planning to relocate any buildings as part of the process. Hutto City Council hosted a work session Oct. 29 to discuss the trans- portation project and to allow for additional discussion among council members and those wishing to speak during public comment, Ray said. “The only potential impact is maybe a little bit more encroachment onto some parking areas […] of the existing buildings,” Ray said. “[The city wants] to make sure that we’re providing a good benet to the citi- zens of Hutto and being considerate to the business owners that are also very important to the city.” Timeline: The project has an anticipat- ed construction start date of fall 2022, per city documents. Funding source : city of Hutto 2018 bond 4 FM 1660 S. at Hwy. 79 railroad crossing improvements Enhancements include improvements at the Hwy. 79 railroad crossing grade at its FM 1660 intersection, and a right-turn lane onto Hwy. 79. Status: federal grant awarded to the city of Hutto in September Timeline: TBD Funding source : U.S. Department of Transportation

However, some owners of area businesses with frontage along Hwy. 79 expressed concerns regarding how the proposed right-turn lane could potentially minimize the distance between their buildings and the roadway. Andrea and Troy Farr, owners of Texas Pawn and Jewelry at 102 Hwy. 79, Hutto, said they are seeking clarication on the expanded roadway upgrades. “What we’re trying to do is to keep our building, our property and our employees safe,” Troy Farr said. Driving improvements Voters in November 2018 approved funding for three FM 1660 intersec- tion improvements. Per the 2018 bond package, the projects were then proposed to include work at FM 1660 and Limmer Loop, Hwy. 79 and FM 1660 N. and Hwy. 79 and FM 1660 S. for a combined total of approximately $6 million. Hutto will work alongside the Texas Department of Transportation and the Union Pacic Railroad, Ray said. In conversations this summer, Ray said the two departments suggested the city pursue the grant to help oset future costs related to the improvements. “We’re very happy to receive funds for this project to help improve the ow of the intersection as well as to

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ROUND ROCK  PFLUGERVILLE  HUTTO EDITION • NOVEMBER 2020

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