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Elizabeth Pagano is the editor of the Austin Monitor.
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Monday, October 12, 2020 by Elizabeth Pagano
Memo reveals details of Grove traffic plan
The development is here, years have passed since its final contentious City Council hearing, and now a watered-down traffic program for the 75-acre Grove planned unit development is underway.
The original $1.3 million transportation plan created jointly by the Bull Creek Road Coalition and developer ARG Bull Creek, Ltd. included sidewalks and traffic calming improvements in an effort to mitigate the anticipated impact of increased traffic on the surrounding neighborhood.
Now, using $400,000 negotiated through the zoning process, the city will be installing 14 asphalt speed bumps. A memo from Austin Transportation Department Director Robert Spillar explains that the traffic calming measures will be covered by the developer’s contribution.
“Based on this budget, and the BCRC’s prioritization of traffic calming improvements over sidewalks, ATD developed a plan consisting of asphalt speed cushions,” reads the memo. “ATD’s plan represents a high-level evaluation of effective device spacing, existing driveways, and other best-practice considerations for traffic calming.”
Spillar continues: “ATD presented this off-site traffic calming plan for review by BCRC representatives, who coordinated with area residents to gauge their level of support. ATD has been informed by the BCRC that residents have provided a positive feedback to the plan.”
The original transportation plan drawn up by BCRC identified $1.3 million in needed improvements and factored in a contribution from the city “not to exceed $900,000” that would provide supplemental funding for the program. Eric Bollich, with the city’s Transportation Department, told the Austin Monitor that no funding source from the city had been identified, so the budget was reduced accordingly.
“The city was given an initial plan, designed by representatives from the neighborhood and it was pretty broad … sidewalks and traffic calming devices were their main asks,” Bollich said. “Based on rule-of-thumb costs that the city has, I believe even the most desired sidewalk, in its entirety, would have taken up just about all of that $400,000.”
Grayson Cox, who spoke to the Monitor on behalf of the BCRC, explained how they ended up whittling down the plan. Once presented with the budget and the realization that sidewalks are “very expensive,” the group opted for the more cost-effective speed cushions, which could be distributed more equitably around the area. He told the Monitor that the pared-down plan was given the thumbs-up from the surrounding neighborhoods, though he had hoped the recent memo would include information about forthcoming funding from the city.
“We desperately hope the city can find funding for the sidewalk part of this,” Cox said. “Especially since The Grove is advertising itself as a walkable community. If you don’t have sidewalks to destinations like schools and stuff, people are going to drive … (which) will make walking more dangerous where there are no sidewalks.”
“Unfortunately, since the developer wasn’t forced to put up that money, it’s going to end up on the list of all of the sidewalk-deficient areas that we already know about,” he added.
Work on the traffic program began at the end of September.
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Key Players & Topics In This Article
Planned Unit Development: A zoning classification designated by the city to allow greater flexibility for projects within its boundaries.