The proposed construction of SH 45 SW that would connect MoPac in southern Travis County to FM 1626 in northern Hays County will remain in the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization's 2035 plan for now.
The CAMPO board approved an amendment Oct. 8 to withdraw a request from the City of Austin that would have removed the proposed roadway from the plan. The city had anticipated that data from a dynamic traffic modeling study would have been available before the meeting, but errors in the data have required it to be redone, CAMPO Executive Director Maureen McCoy said.
“I think at the last meeting I said a couple of months. I think it will be longer than that. It might go until next spring or early next summer,” she said.
The study would allow users to examine the effects that a change to the transportation network would have on travelers’ route choices throughout the network, according to CAMPO documents.
Councilman Bill Spelman, who also sits on the CAMPO board, said that once the new data is ready, he would like to resubmit a request to CAMPO to remove SH 45 SW from the 2035 plan. He said study would help CAMPO make its decision on whether to keep the proposed road in the plan.
During the Sept. 25 City Council work session, Spelman said SH 45 SW is not politically popular and he has not seen if the proposed road would even improve traffic conditions. He said the road primarily would serve Hays County residents.
"The gain is in Commissioner [Will] Conley's area," he said. "The pain is going primarily to us and our constituents. That is what regional cooperation is all about is sorting out who gets the benefits, who bears the costs and what on balance is going to be best for the entire region. It seems to me that this is exactly what CAMPO was designed to do."
The city's Imagine Austin comprehensive plan does not include SH 45 SW. Additionally, CAMPO will start the two-year process to put together its 2040 plan in early 2013.
Will Conley, CAMPO board chairman and Hays County commissioner, said he is disappointed that the City of Austin withdrew its request after CAMPO hosted a public hearing during its Sept. 10 meeting and four other public meetings.
“Considering where we are at in the process and the study taking us into the spring and the 2040 process, I see no reasonable reason why we can't have this discussion in our 2040 planning process along with every other piece of infrastructure that would be discussed,” he said.
During the Sept. 10 public hearing, opponents of keeping SH 45 SW in the plan said the roadway would bring more development and further exacerbate the traffic problem, although proponents say it is needed to alleviate congestion that will only worsen. CAMPO received about 1,400 comments on SH 45 SW.
Conley said he answered about 850 emails and countless phone calls from residents expressing their position on the subject, and he is concerned.
“I know at least the citizens I represent in Hays County, when they're participating in these public forums, these public processes, they lose a lot of faith in the regional system and in government in general because they feel it's just kind of like theater.”