For Hays County commuters trying to get into southwest Austin, the road is about to get bigger.
Farm-to-Market Road 1626 is about to be transformed from a winding country road into something county officials hope will be much safer. It’s a project that took more than a decade of planning.
"It's going to make it a lot safer for people to travel this road every day,” Hays County Commissioner Mark Jones said. “You go from a two-lane country road to a five-lane road, you're going to be able to get on and off easier, and it's going to be just a lot less congested and a lot safer."
Hays City Mayor Michael Warnken says the new road is long overdue.
"Getting in and out in the mornings, you may have to sit at the stop sign to get onto 1626, you may sit five minutes," he said. "The theory was if you build it, people will move out. The problem with that is they're already here, we need this roadway now."
The project will expand 1626 from 967 near Buda all the way to Brodie Lane. Travis County is then expected to oversee the completion of the road all the way to Manchaca.
While the project is supposed to address congestion, county leaders say safety is one of their biggest concerns.
"I can't help but think of the people who have been injured and died in the last 10 years with this road not being built,” Hays County Judge Bert Cobb said.”This is a major safety improvement for Hays County."
Planners say the construction on 1626 is only the beginning to really alleviate traffic problems.
"The other part of that piece is that we got to get 45 done. Because if we don't do 45 when you get to Brodie or Manchaca or wherever you're going you're just getting nowhere fast because you're bottlenecked there, so 45 is a big piece of this puzzle," Jones said.
Construction is expected to be complete by the fall of 2014. To learn more about the project, visit Improve1626.com.