FA signs Save Barton Creek Association’s letter to TxDOT re: Oak Hill Parkway

DRAFT
6/27/19

To:
Mr. James Bass, TxDOT Executive Director
Mr. Tucker Furguson, Austin District Engineer

cc:
Al Alonzi, Hazem Isawi, and Glenn Harris, FHWA

Mr. Bass and Mr. Furguson,

We, the undersigned community organizations encourage you to revisit TxDOT’s current plan for the highway expansion at US 290 and SH 71, known as the “Oak Hill Parkway,” in order to meet the goals stated below.

Through the many years this project has been considered, our community’s often-stated preference for an at-grade parkway has been consistently ignored. There are now multiple problems with the project and with TxDOT’s Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) (see attached letter, Appel 2019).

TxDOT Austin District staff has and continues to actively make changes to the project, despite the fact that the FEIS and Record of Decision were issued in December 2018. These changes include: alterations to number of lanes (upon the presumption that an un-tolled road will have less traffic on access lanes), flood risk modeling and subsequent design changes, and changes to the shared use path. These are all items that should be included within the EIS process. They illustrate that the FEIS did not fully consider these items and was incomplete. The community did not have the opportunity to comment on these very significant changes. We still have not seen the new flood model and any resulting design changes. Yet, TxDOT continues to insist that it expects to put out a final Request for Proposals (RFP) in July.

It is time to correct errors made in this process and reconsider the true purpose and need for the project, as well as the community’s concerns and preferences.

The community put forth a viable alternative vision, the Livable Oak Hill plan, which is an at-grade, true parkway. We now urge TxDOT to genuinely explore a design consistent with the context and the community’s vision, while working with the stakeholders to address our valid concerns regarding environmental degradation, community cohesion, flooding and safety, and construction-related delays. Every possible opportunity to avoid excavation and elevation, particularly on the main lanes, should be explored and implemented if possible. The project as currently planned poses significant risks to the Oak Hill community, the Barton Springs Edwards Aquifer, Williamson Creek, and heritage trees.

This is an opportunity to present an improved, community-supported project that provides a similar level of congestion reduction, while being less costly and destructive. Notably, this would make more money available for other regional priorities. By avoiding construction of unnecessary elevated and excavated segments, the project would logically take less time to build, reducing constructed-related delays and impacts from reduced accessibility to area businesses. It would also reduce the likelihood of delays during construction by minimizing the risk of encountering voids and other karst features that characterize the geology of the project area. A smaller project footprint could also help TxDOT achieve the net reduction in total suspended solids that is integral to TxDOT’s compliance with the Endangered Species Act for this project.

A new plan could also align with the community’s vision – including those articulated in the Oak Hill Association of Neighborhoods (OHAN’s) Priorities document, the Oak Hill Combined Neighborhood Plan, adopted in 2008, and the Imagine Austin Comprehensive Plan of 2010, which endorse future mixed-use, transit and pedestrian friendly “Town Center” at the Y. The Oak Hill Neighborhood plan’s adoption was a result of a long community input process initiated by the City of Austin, and the plan’s approval was widely supported by community members and leaders throughout East and West Oak Hill and southwest Austin.

We strongly encourage TxDOT to act now to work with community groups before a final Request for Proposals is issued for the project.

We support a plan for the Oak Hill Parkway project area that:

1) Constructs a grade-level freeway. We understand that there may be a need for cross streets to be raised. One possible at-grade-level concept is the “Livable Oak Hill” plan.

2) Minimizes both excavated and elevated highway main lane sections.

3) “Right-sizes” the number of lanes, using projections based on actual traffic counts.

4) Avoids destruction of heritage trees

5) Protects Williamson Creek and the Barton Springs Edwards Aquifer by minimizing encroachment on the creek, minimizing impervious cover, treating all stormwater run-off from the site, and complying with the City of Austin’s non-degradation standard set out in the Save Our Springs Ordinance.

6) Improves neighborhood connectivity and community amenities that support future development of a new town center.

7) Focuses on safety of drivers, pedestrians, and cyclists.

8) Immediately adds new safety improvements between Oak Hill and Dripping Springs, including: making speed limits uniformly lower between the Y and Dripping Springs, synchronizing traffic lights, adding safer left-turn lane configurations, and erecting center barriers to prevent deadly head-on collisions.

9) Is consistent with City of Austin plans and policies, including Vision Zero (to reduce traffic deaths); Austin Strategic Mobility Master Plan; the Oak Hill Neighborhood Plan; and the Imagine Austin Comprehensive Plan.

10) Respects property-owners’ rights, with fair compensation for all impacts.

11) Recognizes this as a severely flood prone area, and minimizes construction in the flood zone.

12) Is financially responsible.

Sincerely,

Angela Richter, Executive Director
Save Barton Creek Association

Steve Barnick, President
Friends of Barton Springs Pool

David Foster, State Director
Clean Water Action

Alan Watts
Save Oak Hill

Cindy Dietz, President
South Windmill Run Neighborhood Association

Tony Catania, President
Scenic Brook Neighborhood Association

Carlos Torres-Verdin, President
Friendship Alliance

___________

See also:

May 15, 2019 Response from City of Dripping Springs Code Enforcement & Construction Inspector Aaron Reed

From: Aaron Reed <areed@cityofdrippingsprings.com>
Date: May 15, 2019 at 8:42:06 AM CDT

Mr. Torres-Verdin,

I visited the site at Mark Black Wedding Venue yesterday afternoon.  I arrived shortly after James Slone of TCEQ had left.  TCEQ has put a stop to the dewatering of the foundation excavation which was leading to sediment leaving the site.  The contractor is to submit a dewatering plan to TCEQ and it must be approved by TCEQ before any dewatering can continue.  TCEQ will also be requiring the contractor to clean up the creek.  I am not sure what the schedule is for that cleanup.  For that information you will need to contact TCEQ.

If you have any other questions regarding this matter please feel free to email or call me at City Hall 512-858-4725.

Please understand that any citizen complaints must be directed through City Hall via email or phone so records can be kept.

 

Thank you,

 

Definition of Dewatering, etc.

https://www.thebalancesmb.com/what-is-dewatering-844520

Dewatering Techniques and Solutions for Construction Projects

Dewatering and construction dewatering are terms used to describe the action of removing groundwater or surface water from a construction site. Normally the dewatering process is done by pumping or evaporation and is usually done before excavation for footings or to lower water table that might be causing problems during excavations. Dewatering can also refer to the process of removing water from the soil by wet classification. The right dewatering plan can be used to be in compliance with some of the Best Management Practices related to the SWPP [Stormwater Pollution Prevention] plan.


https://www.tceq.texas.gov/permitting/wastewater/general

Available Water Quality General Permits

The discharge of wastewater and certain types of stormwater into or adjacent to water in the state (HTML) must be authorized by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ). This authorization may come in the form of an individual discharge permit or a general permit. Seeking authorization under a general permit is generally less time-consuming than authorization under an individual permit and usually requires fewer resources.

The status of general permits that are being renewed or amended will be discussed at quarterly Water Quality Advisory Workgroup meetings, which are open to the public.


https://www.tceq.texas.gov/remediation/iop/iop.html

Innocent Owner/Operator Program (IOP)

The Texas IOP provides a certificate to an innocent owner or operator

Overview

The Texas IOP, created by House Bill 2776 of the 75th Legislature, provides a certificate to an innocent owner or operator if their property is contaminated as a result of a release or migration of contaminants from a source or sources not located on the property, and they did not cause or contribute to the source or sources of contamination. Like the Texas Voluntary Cleanup Program (VCP), the IOP can be used as a redevelopment tool and as a tool to add value to a contaminated property by providing an Innocent Owner/Operator Certificate (IOC). However, unlike the VCP release of liability, the liability immunity acknowledged in IOCs does not cover future owners/operators. Future owners or operators are eligible to enter the IOP and may, if otherwise qualified, receive an IOC, but only after they become an owner or operator of the site.

Regulations

State laws associated with the IOP program are located in the Health and Safety Code 361.751-361.754.

State rules associated with the IOP program are located in the Texas Administrative Code 30 TAC 333.31-333.43.

On May 14, 2019, in the creek between Mark Black Wedding Venue project and the Ila Creek subdivision, Hays County, TX

No rainfall today.

And yet:

 

 

 

Photo credits:

All photos taken by Dr. Carlos Torres-Verdin in the morning, Tuesday May 14, 2019, as he stood on his property, looking into the creek that runs between the Mark Black Wedding Venue project and Ila Creek.

If you’d like to let TCEQ know what you think, or to ask simply “what is going on with our creek? what is in that water? why is this the second time this is happening?” etc. then:

_____________

 

Upstream photo below, taken 11:35am on May 14, 2019, by Jeanine Christensen, while standing in the Radiance community greenbelt:

 

On May 7, 2019, in the creek between Mark Black Wedding Venue project and the Ila Creek subdivision, Hays County, TX

Rain today.
Then this.

Photo credits:

All photos taken by Dr. Carlos Torres-Verdin in the morning, Tuesday May 7, 2019, as he stood on his property, looking into the creek that runs between the Mark Black Wedding Venue project and Ila Creek.

Hays Free Press: Development over recharge zone draws concern

https://haysfreepress.com/2018/04/25/development-over-recharge-zone-draws-concern/

Anxieties over the impact a proposed masterplanned development along FM 967 near Buda could have on neighbors and the Edwards Aquifer is steadily rising. 

According to community organizers, the development, located in Dripping Springs’ extraterritorial jurisdiction, calls for 1,200 homes to be built out on almost 800 acres of land. The development is located over the Edwards Aquifer recharge zone. 

However, variance requests outlined in the proposed development agreement with Dripping Springs have left neighbors concerned about what the growth could mean for them.

Jannine Inbody, who lives downhill from the proposed development site, organized a town hall meeting April 19 at Southern Hills Church of Christ in Buda, where about 60 of her fellow neighbors discussed their concerns and the actions they can take….

Read more…