December 3, 2007

For us, this story began in October, when we first spied surveyors on the Hammett's Crossing bridge. Soon, a neighborhood meeting was held at Westcave Preserve. There, most of us heard for the first time that, in addition to a new, high bridge, the growth-boosters have an even scarier plan for the destruction of our area. It turns out CAMPO's dream for 2030 includes converting our sleepy little Hamilton Pool Road into a 4-lane divided highway, all the way from Hwy 71 to the Blanco County line. Read Hugh Winkler's report on the October 23rd meeting in his blog. The comments and suggestions made at that meeting have since been distributed. Hugh has the attendees' comments posted here.

Since that meeting, neighbor Pam Reese has met with Travis County Commissioner Gerald Daugherty and reported on that meeting in an email. Read her report and Hugh's comments on it on this page of Hugh's blog.

Now, Annie and I agree with Hugh that we do not need to roll over and accept the (compromise???) premise of a 30 foot high new bridge, attached to a severely widened, three or four-lane highway to nowhere. So we are asking everyone to print out this petition about the road and this petition about the bridge. If you'd like to print a copy of the road petition with accompanying supporting documents, click here. For your convenience, we now also have an on-line petition concerning the road.


After you've signed on-line or downloaded the materials, please get everyone you know to sign (Please return signed pages to: Annie Borden, 24815 Hamilton Pool Road, Round Mountain, TX 78663). In case you would like to read it, here's the original, official 2005 Travis County bond election document.

Now here's why we are circulating the road petition:

We, the following petitioners, insist that CAMPO’s MAD 4 designation for HPR from RR 12 west to the county line be changed back to the original “improved 2 lane with shoulders” road improvements for the following reasons:


— The 2005 citizen bond committee, after much study, recommended funding the design of road improvements for Hamilton Pool Road from RR12 to the Blanco county line. Those improvements were to be a 2 lane road with shoulders, NOT 4 LANES, NOT 3 LANES, just 2 lanes with shoulders.

— Committee members, with that understanding, campaigned for passage of the bonds.

— Now Travis county officials have taken it upon themselves to expand the scope of what the voters approved in 2005 and they plan to design for a MAD 4 (4-lane, divided highway) for Hamilton Pool Road from RR12 to the Blanco county line (see map below).

— The voters did not approve design of a MAD 4 or of a 3-lane road with wide shoulders and "buffer".

Map showing road to nowhere


— There are a maximum of 18 Travis County homes served by Hamilton Pool Road west of the Pedernales River. At a generously-estimated 2.5 persons per household (the approximate county average) that's 45 people (.0005% of the Travis County population of 921,000).

— Economic trends show that TxDOT travel models, forecasting suburban sprawl, ignore changing demographic patterns. Because of traffic congestion and the rapidly increasing costs of driving, home buyers prefer to live closer to the cores of cities.

— Hamilton Pool Road, west of the Pedernales River, might be called a “road to nowhere”

Overhead view of Pedernales River valley
Map showing Cypress Mill
— Cypress Mill, a ghost town in Blanco County, lies approximately 8 miles from the river. The town once thrived with an active mill and many family farms.
Panorama of thriving metropolis of Cypress Mill
All that's left are a few big ranches, a church and a defunct post office/general store.
Post office and old gas pumps
The general store even sold gasoline. Imagine that!
Too bad about the post office closing. Now our mail has to come all the way from Round Mountain.
Post office/general store
Loose livestock sign
Of course, Cypress Mill is known all 'round these parts for its promiscuous livestock.

Beyond Cypress Mill another 7 miles, lies Round Mountain, a small truck stop and cattle auction barn (oh yeah, and a post office) on Hwy. 281.

Round Mountain is 6.5 miles from the intersection of Hwy 71 and Hwy. 281. In other words, this section of 281 is easily served by the existing 4 lane highway 71.

Map showing Round Mountain
Ronnd Mountain main street
Here's the town of Round Mountain. Don't blink as you speed by or you might miss the town's restaurant, a great cajun food place run by a group of displaced New Orleans survivors.
Oh yeah, this town needs a fast, four-lane highway leading to it (that would be one lane per 28 residents).
Round Mountain population 111
Oblique view of Pedernales River valley

— The majority of the residents along this stretch of Hamilton Pool Rd/962 chose this area in which to reside for its peaceful country nature and beautiful, winding 2 lane country road.

— Tourists come here for the scenic country roads including the hills and curves. They drive for pleasure, not speed, nor to go to any destination.


— The road cut on the west side of the river on Hamilton pool road provides a good exposure of the Sycamore Formation.

Map showing Sycamore Formation

Geology students
Here, local university geology classes come to study, as does the Austin Geological Society on its field trips.

— Even small construction projects, no matter how well planned, often have a deleterious effect on the environment. Consider the recent damage to Hamilton Pool by private road construction. Even a little damage to our precious Pedernales River (image on the right) or its valley would be too much.

In sum, it is unconscionable to take on thirty years of new debt for an unnecessary, unwanted, destructive, major construction project. MAD 4 is not appropriate for Hamilton Pool Road west of RR 12. MAD 4 designation from the Pedernales River to the Travis/Blanco county line is ridiculous. Return the plan to the 2-lane road with shoulders (not MAD 2, not "Hill Country Arterial") which the 2005 bond committee recommended, supported and promoted to the voters.


Rapids in Pedernales River just upstream from Hammett's Crossing

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