Virtual Open House Steiner Ranch Area Emergency Access Route Project

Welcome to the Steiner Ranch Area Emergency Access Route Project Virtual Open House. The purpose of this virtual open house is to provide a brief summary of the project and present design elements on the selected Route B.

After the historical regional impacting wildfire event in 2011, Travis County, first responders and the Steiner Ranch (SR) community collectively agreed to pursue an additional route out of the Steiner Ranch neighborhood. Many factors were considered to arrive at the selection of Route B including access to RM 620 and "choke points" within the Steiner Ranch community.

During the 2011 wildfire event, traffic movement within Steiner Ranch and along RM 620 was poor, evacuation took hours. Quinlan Park Road at Steiner Ranch Boulevard and the intersection of each of these roads with RM 620 were all identified as “choke points” for evacuating Steiner Ranch.

An estimate of more than 80% of Steiner Ranch area residences are located south of and must pass through the Quinlan Park Road at Steiner Ranch Boulevard intersection then head north to RM 620. To relieve this “choke point”, an access route south of this intersection and/or movement west of this intersection would provide relief. In addition, routes to the east are not feasible, precluded by difficult terrain and wildfire fuel (Balcones Canyonland Preserve), and a crossing of Lake Austin is not an option. This resulted in the investigation of feasible routes in the northwest area of Steiner Ranch. Route B is located in this area and relieves the existing “choke points” in Steiner Ranch.

The goal of the overall project is to work with the community to balance needs, priorities and constraints to develop a feasible option that enhances safety and reduces evacuation time for the area.

In 2018-2019 Travis County analyzed more than 12 vehicular evacuation routes to find an additional emergency exit out of the Steiner Ranch area to RM 620. The project team worked closely with first responders, the Steiner Ranch Masters Association, the Steiner Ranch Neighborhood Association, the Montview neighborhood and Leander Independent School District. During the analysis process to gather input and feedback, the project team also held two public open houses to discuss progress and details of the routes analyzed. Each of the 12 route options was reviewed regarding emergency event effectiveness, land/easement acquisition, environmental constraints and project cost.

All routes crossing the river were ruled out due to cost, disturbance to existing residential homes along Quinlan Park Road and protected habitat.

photo credit: Heather Valey https://naturefix.net

Routes to the east and across the river were ruled out due to the inability to cross the protected lands within the Balcones Canyonlands Preserve, shown in the Environmental Constraints Map shown above.

photo credit: Instagram. @staplehawk

Two routes remained feasible through the analysis phase, Route B and Route F. Travis County was not able to identify funding for Route F (estimated total cost $7.2 million), therefore, a recommendation to approve moving forward with Route B (estimated total cost $650,000) was presented to Travis County Commissioners Court on July 19, 2019.

After extensive study and review and consideration of feedback, on July 19, 2019, Travis County Commissioners Court approved moving forward with Emergency Route B. Travis County Transportation and Natural Resources staff has been working with the design engineer, M&S Engineering, and will continue to work with the Montview Acres, Hidden Valley and Montview Harbor neighborhood as we continue the design of Route B.

Route B connects Flat Top Ranch Road to Montview Drive. This route includes a 20’ wide paved road with 2’ shoulders. Two gates are anticipated with the potential for a third gate. The two planned gates are located at Flat Top Ranch Road and the rear lot line of the Montview Lot. The third gate will be determined by the Montview Lot property owner.

The Steiner Ranch Area Emergency Evacuation Route will include two gates as noted prior. These two gates will be manually operated by first responders with a Knox Box (a small, wall-mounted safe that holds building keys for fire departments, emergency medical services, and sometimes police to retrieve in emergency situations) and padlock. The gate will only be opened for use by first responders during an emergency event. The gate on Flat Top Ranch Road may be constructed as depicted in the rendering. Travis County would like to maintain the integrity of the open space and include aesthetics similar to that existing in this area of Steiner Ranch. For example, the retaining walls will be constructed of similar stone at the entrance of The Estates at West Ridge. This gate will include signs indicating the route is not for public use and is to remain closed. It will also include contact information for questions regarding the emergency route and gate. The gate materials on the rear lot line of the Montview Lot will be coordinated with the property owner and will include a sign similar to the Flat Top Ranch Road sign noting that the route is not for public use and is to remain closed. There will also be a sign regarding the private property of the property owner.

The paving system is still in design. The systems Travis County are reviewing include a pervious paving systems to allow rainwater to enter the ground as it currently does. These systems are appropriate for this area to preserve integrity of the open space yet provide a drivable surface capable of carrying the weight of emergency vehicles. This is the a typical pavement section under consideration for this route.

The permeable paving systems that are under review currently include (but are not limited to) RainCrete and TrueGrid. Truegrid, when fully installed, would appear to be a grass.

Raincrete is an enhanced pervious concrete that can be pigmented to match any surroundings.

Travis County is reviewing paving options for the Route. The final paving system has not been decided.

The Project webpage, www.traviscountytx.gov/tnr/public-works/Steiner-Ranch-Area-Evacuation-Route-Design, contains additional information regarding the history and progress of this project. Travis County will continue to update the webpage with schedule and information regarding the project as we move forward.

Questions or comments about the project?

Please send comments and questions regarding the project by Friday May 22, 2020. We will not be able to respond to each individual comment, but we will review all submitted. We will provide updated frequently asked questions at the Project webpage as comments and questions are resolved. Please follow the link below to submit your comments and/or questions.

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