$2 million awarded to Round Rock for its study of abandoned MoKan rail corridor

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$2 million awarded to Round Rock for its study of abandoned MoKan rail corridor

Regional elected officials approved dedicating $2 million in state funds to the city of Round Rock to continue a study of transportation options along an abandoned rail corridor segment that runs through the city.

The Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization’s transportation policy board, comprised of local elected officials, approved the funding Jan. 9.

The 28-mile MoKan corridor stretches east of I-35 from just south of Hwy. 29 in Georgetown to east of downtown Austin.

On Dec. 2, several CAMPO board members as well as Rep. Celia Israel, D-Austin, whose district includes a segment of MoKan, met to discuss funding a study. The funding allocation drew support from Israel.

“As more and more people move to Williamson County and northern Travis County, it’s critical we address our transportation needs,” she said.

The group agreed to split the
corridor into four segments: Hwy. 29 to RM 1431, RM 1431 to SH 45 N, SH 45 N to Hwy. 290, and Hwy. 290 to Central Austin. The group also recommended awarding the funding to Round Rock.

Round Rock officials pushed to have the MoKan corridor studied because of its proximity to the planned location of the extension of Kenney Fort Boulevard segments 2 and 3, which would be a six-lane road built adjacent to MoKan from Forest Creek Drive to SH 45 N. The city is advancing the road project more quickly after the announcement of a Kalahari Resorts & Conventions location being planned in the vicinity.

Although no part of Kenney Fort would be built in the MoKan right of way, Round Rock officials want to ensure building the roadway will not preclude any future transportation use of MoKan.

“The [awarded] money is going to look at the extension and look at the potential conflicts and how they fit together going forward,” Mayor Pro Tem Craig Morgan said.

Morgan said engineers have already started studying the project and will add the funds to further their analysis.

He said he is keeping an open mind for the future use of the MoKan corridor but also emphasized the need to work with Travis County.

“I think what we are going to find out is that what MoKan looks like in north Williamson County is different than what it looks like in Travis County,” Morgan said. “We want to make sure that whatever the plan is, it doesn’t preclude or prohibit that continuation of the [MoKan] project.”

In May 2015, Pflugerville City Council expressed concerns about what could happen to the corridor.

“Pflugerville is not against mobility. We’re just into reasonable mobility,” Pflugerville City Manager Brandon Wade said at that time. “In some instances [the Texas Department of Transportation’s] proposals show [MoKan] being turned into an extraordinarily major roadway—perhaps four lanes in each direction—which would be completely devastating to the community.”