Sierra Martin | Managing Editor
HAYS COUNTY — The Dripping Springs Southwest Connection Study has been developing a route and completing preliminary engineering for a future roadway in the region. The road would be constructed from the intersection of RM 150 and RM 12 to extend around the southwest side of Dripping Springs and connect to US 290.
The study aims to plan ahead so that Hays County can continue to improve transportation, safety, connectivity, and mobility and provide more options for travelers. The county will be hosting an Open House to receive community feedback on the updated route.
“This is just a proactive approach to making sure that the infrastructure can be there when it’s needed,” said Joe Cantalupo, Technical Chief of K Friese & Associates and lead consultant on the project.
Hays County Commissioner of Precinct 4, Walt Smith, said that one of the critical aspects of the study was to reduce the impact of road construction on property owners as much as possible.
“The first thing that we wanted to do, or that I was interested in, was truly preserving the character of the community,” said Smith. “And one of the things that we really looked at is how we could preserve character while also trying to address the transportation infrastructure needs of the entire community.”
According to the CAMPO 2045 Regional Transportation Plan research, the Dripping Springs population has more than doubled from 2015 to 2020, and Hays County anticipates to grow 267% by 2045. Employment growth in the region is projected to reach a 221% increase.
Cantalupo said the need for additional roadway capacity south and west of Dripping Springs has been discussed since 2013 and has appeared in several previous plans and studies.
“But we’re also trying to help people understand that as hard as it is that planning now is really a smart thing to do,” said Cantalupo. “Because if we don’t do the planning now, if the county did not take the initiative to undertake studies like this, by the time the road was actually needed, it would be too late.”
Arin Gray, President at Concept Development & Planning and a consultant for the study, said that it would be beneficial to complete the project early on with the projected growth in the region.
“Development comes in, and it actually could impact the other individual property owners even more,” said Gray. “You know, this gives us more options, which is another one of the benefits of the study so early on.”
The recommended route up for discussion in the open house proposes a connection to US 290 at Martin Rd. Additionally, there are nine different roundabouts planned in the Driftwood and Dripping Springs area.
The study proposes realigning the intersection to the south to avoid impacts to Phillips Cemetery and align with the future extension of RM 150. A one-lane roundabout would be installed with the capacity to expand to two lanes if needed in the future.
Gray said those working on the project recognize the beauty of Texas Hill County and the importance of finding a balance with road construction.
“It’s not anyone’s desire to need to do this, but we’re doing our very best to try to balance the need to make sure that the quality of life is preserved by having transportation options with trying our best to preserve that beauty,” said Gray.
Upcoming plans for the study in 2022 include completing the preliminary drainage analysis and finalizing the route, presenting their findings to the Hays County Commissioners Court and completing the study. Once these steps are complete, funding for design and construction will be identified, and a construction timeline will be determined.
“The movement of transportation and specifically the population that we’re dealing with is so eminently important here while maintaining the character of our community,” said Smith. “And it’s a fine line that you have to walk to do that. But at the end of the day, we try to do the best that we can.”
The in-person Open House will take place on Thursday, April 7, 2022, from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. at Dripping Springs Ranch Park and Event Center, 1042 Event Center Dr. for residents wanting to learn more about the project to attend. Additionally, a virtual Open House will be available at https://www.improve150.com/open-house from April 4 to April 29.
The Open House includes connection study materials, an interactive map, a comment forum and additional ways to share community feedback. The study’s goals include considering future growth and developments in the region and coordinating with property owners to minimize impacts when possible.
More information on the Dripping Springs Southwest Connection study can be found on their website. Comments on the study can be submitted to improve150.com/connection or by emailing email@example.com.