Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization Executive Director Ashby Johnson gives a presentation on planned transportation upgrades in Burnet County that will accommodate expected population and employment growth. Staff photo by Dakota Morrissiey
Extensive expansions and improvements to Burnet County’s major roads are in the works to accommodate population and employment growth, which is expected to nearly double by 2045, according to data collected by the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization.
CAMPO Executive Director Ashby Johnson briefed Burnet County leadership on the coming transportation upgrades during a Coffee and Conversation presentation on Tuesday, Jan. 17, at the Hill Country Community Foundation building in Burnet. The Burnet Chamber of Commerce hosts the monthly coffee with a variety of speakers.
“Our goal is to not wait until the problem occurs,” Ashby told DailyTrib.com after his presentation. “Our goal is to get ahead of it.”
CAMPO’s jurisdiction includes Burnet, Bastrop, Caldwell, Hays, Travis, and Williamson counties. The organization is responsible for managing transportation planning and development in the region. All six counties are projected to have exponential growth in the coming years.
Texas Department of Transportation Austin District Engineer Tucker Ferguson presented plans for millions of dollars’ worth of upgrades to Burnet County roadways that will happen between now and 2026. Much of the construction is underway, including an $8.8 million project to widen Texas 71 near the Blanco County line.
Other projects presented by Ferguson included widening Texas 29 at the Williamson County line, reworking Texas 71 at the Llano County line, and building a new bridge over LBJ on Wirtz Dam Road.
“We’re seeing growth with people coming from Travis and Williamson counties into Burnet County but also people coming from out of the area and even out of state and settling here,” Ferguson said. “Our transportation plan is responsive to that growth, and we’re looking to get these projects developed and built so that we can meet the demands of the traffic that is going to be generated from that growth.”
In 2021, Burnet County’s population was about 51,000. It is projected to rise to 94,000 by 2045, according to CAMPO data. In 2015, employment in the county was at about 19,000. Employment is expected to shoot up to 37,000 by 2045, according to the same CAMPO study.
“It’s up to us to force ourselves to look into the crystal ball and plan for the growth that is coming,” Burnet County Judge James Oakley told DailyTrib.com at the presentation. “Playing catchup is not a good position to be in. Trying to get ahead of that growth is what we’re all about.”