TRAVIS COUNTY -- On Tuesday Travis County Commissioners approved $922,000 to study improvements on a six-mile stretch of Hamilton Pool Road.
The study would determine which safety hazards on the two-lane, hilly, curvy road should be made. There is also a lot of traffic on weekends with people driving to Hamilton Pool.
Steve Manilla is the County Executive for the Transportation and Natural Resources Department of Travis County. "Right now it's just a two-lane roadway. It does have some safety issues," Manilla said.
Because of the safety issues, he urged the Travis County commissioners to approve the study that would add shoulders on each side of the road. That study was approved Tuesday. The money is already there. Voters approved funding back in a 2005 bond election.
"There are bicycles that use the road. It's hard to see them in advance if they are coming around the curve. The vegetation grows right up next to the pavement in some areas," Manilla said.
Since 2004, there have been four fatal accidents on the county's near six-mile stretch of the road, plus numerous other accidents. In 2010, Travis County Commissioners denied plans to widen it to four lanes.
"The folks out in that area felt like that was totally unnecessary, and that it would drastically alter the character of the roadway and invite additional growth, and a whole lot of sidebar issues," said Manilla.
Supporters say they welcome a shoulder or other safety improvements.
Opponents argue any expansion will encourage growth and detract from the aesthetic nature of Hamilton Pool Road.
Once the study is complete, money must be approved for construction. Funding would come from a bond election in 2016 or 2017. So while a study is the first step, it will take several years before improvements are made, if at all.