LCRA Leander – Round Rock 138 kV Transmission Line Project

The Texas Public Utilities Commission (PUC) recently approved the Route LHO-1 route for the Leander-Round Rock 138-kV transmission line project on May 18th, 2017. The proposed line will be constructed between existing substations in Leander and Round Rock and also includes the construction of two new substations to be situated in southwestern Williamson County.  The line will consist of approximately 21 miles and constructed on right-of-way (ROW) with a proposed easement width of approximately 80 feet and will cost an estimated $99.6 million dollars to complete, in addition to approximately $17.3m for the new substations for a total estimate of $116.9m.

The project will be funded by the Lower Colorado River Authority (LCRA) through a combination of tax-exempt commercial paper and subsequently fixed-rate debt. The line will meet the significantly increased electric demand in the rapidly growing area by providing and maintaining reliable electric service to the area and is projected to be operational by December 2019.

The application for the Certificate of Convenience and Necessity (CCN) necessary for approval by the PUC was filed on April 28th, 2016. The PUC heard public comments on the project at its meeting on May 4th, 2016. Out of the various routes proposed by the LCRA, the PUC approved the route forthcoming a Final Order sanctioning the project. Information and updates on this portion of the project can be found at the PUC interchange by searching for docket number 45866 at:

http://interchange.puc.texas.gov/WebApp/Interchange/application/dbapps/filings/pgSearch.asp

Please contact Luke Ellis with Johns Marrs Ellis & Hodge LLP at lellis@jmehlaw.com or (512) 215-4078 if you have any questions or would like to receive periodic updates on this project.

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TxDOT Loop 360 Construction – Austin

The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) recently released a new report recommending the gradual elimination of the 20 traffic signals on Loop 360 in Austin, Texas. TxDOT reported that Loop 360 has not substantially improved since 1982 despite the up to 80,000 vehicles that traverse the highway each day, leading to average travel times between 44 and 68 minutes when driving the 14.5 miles between South MoPac and U.S. 183.

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Two previous proposals to address the congestion failed due to lack of public support. In order to more directly engage the public, TxDOT initiated a grassroots movement leading to 11 section working group meetings, 43 stakeholder meetings, 3,6000 survey responses, and 2,085 comments.

The report culminating from that effort states that, “the greatest increase in mobility, safety, and access comes from removing traffic signals from the mainlanes.” The report consequently promotes the construction of overpasses and underpasses at all the key intersections and a flyover bridge at South MoPac (Loop 1) and U.S. 183. The report also calls for the addition of a lane on each side of the median. The estimated cost of this project would be $337 million.

In order to limit the amount of construction at any one time and minimize congestion caused by construction, TxDOT plans to use an incremental approach to construction. In the next one to four years, the TxDOT report proposes spending an estimated $20 million to add turn lanes in order to improve signal timing and make other relatively inexpensive changes.

Following review and approval of its report, TxDOT plans to continue conceptual planning and then determine the location and extent of proposed improvements. The project will require an implementation plan as well as environmental and design studies before TxDOT can move forward with construction plans and right-of-way and utility relocations.

The report can be found at:

https://ftp.dot.state.tx.us/pub/txdot-info/aus/sl_360/final-report.pdf

Contact Luke Ellis at Johns Marrs Ellis & Hodge at lellis@jmehlaw.com or (512) 215-4078 if you have any questions or would like to receive periodic updates on this project.