November 20, 2022


Work on Williams Drive could begin next month

By BRIGID COOLEY 

Phase 1 of Georgetown’s Williams Drive Mobility Enhancements Project could begin as early as December. 

An overview of Georgetown’s Williams Drive Mobility Enhancements Project, as well as a rough outline of its timeline, was discussed during a city council workshop November 8. The presentation was given by city transportation manager Lua Saluone. 

After a 2017 Williams Drive Study, the city concluded traffic operations and safety along Williams Drive was impacted by a lack of road access management. The study noted there are over 150 curb cuts in the area and many corridor-wide center turn lanes. 

In an attempt to make the roadway more efficient and safe, the city is pursuing a number of changes. These include consolidating driveways along the stretch of road, adding raised and planted medians to turn bays and installing additional safety lighting. 

The project will be divided into at least three separate phases, Mr. Saluone said, with the first beginning in December of this year following future council approval. 

“Phase 1 of this will be data collection,” Mr. Saluone said. “Phase 2 [will be] developing alternative methodologies [and identifying] places where we can make those improvements. And then Phase 3 plus will be plant specifications, estimates and implementing the information we found on this through the study.”

Since the project impacts so much of the roadway, Mr. Saluone said public engagement is being scheduled throughout all three phases. The city is working with engineering firm RPS to finalize the project’s scope of work. 

Project funding 

Funding for the Williams Drive Mobility Enhancements Project comes from several different sources. 

A $150,000 grant from the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization and a local match of $105,000 will go toward the access management portion of the project, which includes a study area from Austin Avenue to Jim Hogg Road. 

Additional funding includes $10.4 million from the city’s 2021 Road Bond for access changes from Austin Avenue to D.B. Wood Road. CAMPO also awarded the city $1.2 million for intersection improvements at Lakeway Drive, Bootys Crossing Road and Williams Drive.  About $1.75 million from the Texas Department of Transportation to be used for safety lighting between Jim Hogg Road and Shell Road. 

Feedback 

During the workshop, city staff asked council members for feedback on the scheduled phases and project scope as a whole. 

District 5 Council Member Kevin Pitts asked if the work outlined in the project would be happening at the same time as the construction taking place on the Williams Drive diverging diamond interchange. 

“Absolutely not,” Engineering Director Wesley Wright said. “I think the [Williams Drive Mobility Enhancements Project data collection] will take a better part of a year and … there was some discussion of multiple phases. In Phase 3 [of the project], we will take a strategic look at that so as to not inconvenience or delay construction.” 

Mr. Wright said the construction on the diverging diamond is expected to be completed by next year. 

Meanwhile, District 3 Council Member Mike Triggs asked whether the amount of funding earmarked for the project would sustain the anticipated work moving forward. 

“Well, with the study, we want to look at viability and what we can do with that money,” Mr. Saluone said. “Obviously, with the increased cost of construction, I think … it was upwards around 25 percent increase in construction costs, so with that, I doubt it. 

“That’s why, if you look at the phasing, we’re going to look at how far we can stretch [Phase 3]. We don’t want to anticipate it, but that’s why we’re kind of looking at how we can phase this so that we can come back later … looking at other sources to complete these.” 

City Manager David Morgan the necessity of public engagement, as well as a realistic outlook on project costs. 

“I think all the council would agree that this is the stickiest project that we have in the road bond, so the public input process and the discussion with businesses on Williams Drive is going to be pretty intense,” Mr. Morgan said. “You all, rightfully so, put this toward the end of the bond program and so part of this is really also making sure we have a good implementation strategy. We have a good current scoping, but that may change as we get to the end of this process.” 

City council is expected to take action on the project in December, with the data collection phase beginning shortly after it is approved. 

District 7 Council Member Ben Stewart expressed approval for the planned enhancements. 

“I’m super excited about this because everyone feels the pain that is Williams Drive,” Mr. Stewart said. “I think this is something you’re going to get plenty of public engagement on by the nature of how many people are impacted by it, so I think you guys are doing a good job.”