Round Rock, Texas – Officials with the Texas Department of Transportation have their eyes on a roughly two-mile stretch of U.S. Highway 79 in a booming part of Williamson County.
“It’s just growing because now you have everything like Kalahari, which is a good thing,” Gerald Shafer, a nearby neighbor explained. “You have Dell Diamond; you have all these other businesses over here. Everybody commutes all the way to Taylor and back through here.”
TxDOT agrees, spokesperson Brad Wheelis said.
“The City of Round Rock has been growing rapidly for many years, and US 79 needs to reflect that.”
Because of this, TxDOT has plans to improve the US 79 corridor from Interstate 35 east toward Farm to Market Road 1460, or A.W. Grimes Boulevard. Friday, they will kick off a virtual meeting and host an in-person meeting to gather feedback.
TxDOT’s latest traffic numbers from 2019 show 44,484 drivers traveled on the two-lane section of the highway each day. That’s up 38% in traffic from 2015.
To alleviate some of the congestion, TxDOT proposes adding an additional lane in each direction. TxDOT officials said this will require the purchase of additional right-of-way. They also plan to add a raised median with dedicated turn bays to reduce potential crash points along the highway.
Other improvements include building two bridges along US 79 at two intersections: Mays Street and A.W. Grimes Boulevard. The new bridges would get rid of the traffic signals.
Shafer is looking forward to the proposed shared-use paths the most.
“When I’m walking, I have to be really careful,” he said. “I have to think as a driver thinks.”
He’s a driver as well, but most recently, he’s relied on his two feet. His work is only about a half-mile from home.
“All I’m saying is, ‘It’s going to be a mess until it’s done,’” he said laughing.
The in-person option is appointment-only and COVID-19 guidelines will be in place. TxDOT says the in-person option will take place on Friday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at TxDOT Georgetown Area Office & Maintenance Facility in Georgetown. Those who wish to attend in-person must call Patricia Kelly at (512) 659-3230 to make an appointment.
The public has through Dec. 21 to comment on the proposed improvements.