AUSTIN, Texas — Neighborhood and environmental community groups in Austin are calling on a national leader to stop the Oak Hill Parkway project. The Texas Department of Transportation started construction on U.S. 290 and State Highway 71, breaking ground on the project, last week.
The Save Barton Creek Association is currently writing U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg, asking him to suspend federal approval for the project. Buttigieg recently stopped a redevelopment of Interstate 45 in Houston, until community concerns were addressed, according to a press release.
Oak Hill Neighbors, Save Barton Creek Association and other groups are worried that the current design will remove trees and damage Williamson Creek water quality.
Groups also cited construction for an increase in traffic, diminishing air quality, increasing greenhouse gas emissions, impairing access to shopping and neighborhoods, an increase in noise and decrease in property value.
They are asking for an “at-grade parkway that would be less costly” instead, according to the press release.
“TxDOT continues to be disingenuous,” Executive Director of Save Barton Creek Association Angela Richter said in the release. “They continue to claim that the project is ‘right-sized,’ ‘community-focused,’ and that they had ‘listened to the community.’ This is counter to the experience of multiple community groups and Oak Hill residents who felt that even the smallest requests for changes were denied and that their input was never considered.”
The Oak Hill Parkway project includes a full reconstruction of the “Y” interchange at US 290 and SH 71. Construction is set to be complete between 2025 and 2026, weather permitting.
In 2019, multiple environmental groups sued TxDOT and other entities over the project. The Oak Hill Neighbors are hosting a “Party for The Trees” Saturday, July 10, to “gather around historic trees in TxDOT’s path” and protest the project.
“TxDOT should scale back the scope of this project to what the parkway community stakeholders have consistently supported,” President of the Oak Hill Association of Neighborhoods Cynthia Wilcox wrote. “This oversized boondoggle is a stealth toll road. The giant footprint will destroy 68,000 tree years of growth and will amputate one side of the community from the other. The archaic elevated, excavated design has a short lifespan as well as a huge price tag. A modern, grade-level parkway would leave the community intact while genuinely addressing the transportation needs without the utter destruction of the natural landscape and the community.”
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