| RR2222 is one of Austin's most scenic roads and is the only east-west roadway on the west side of Austin. From central Austin to Loop 360, it is still in a ranch road configuration, with sharp turns, steep grades, and a low water crossing. The roadway is now severely strained by increasing traffic demands.
2222 has seen its share of controversy over the years. The 1980's freeway plan showed two sections of 2222 planned as freeways. The central city section between I-35 and Loop 1 was known as the Koening Lane Freeway and would have been a natural extension of the 290 freeway. It was cancelled in 1994 because of neighborhood impacts. The west section from 360 to RR620 was also designated as a freeway but had the freeway designation removed in 1994. This section was significantly upgraded in the early 1990's with widening and straightening. This construction was allowed to occur because the winding 4-lane undivided roadway was extremely dangerous and the scene of frequent fatalities. The extremely steep grade still remains, however.
The section of 2222 from Loop 360 to Loop 1 is a four lane roadway, with about half the length having a central turning lane. It is slated for future widening, but it remains to be seen what will ultimately be done with the roadway. There are very high-income neighborhoods along this roadway, and neighborhood opposition will be strong. In addition, major widening would destroy much of the scenic and pastoral qualities of the roadway, which would be unfortunate. But with increasing traffic load and absolutely no alternative for the traffic, widening will probably eventually occur. This would be yet another unfortunate consequence of poor planning in Austin.
The map above shows what should have been done to divert traffic off 2222 so it could be preserved in its historic and scenic state. A freeway or major highway from the 620/2222 intersection to the 360/183 area would have done the job. In fact, City of Austin planning maps from the 1980's show an "Arterial #8" that would have followed this general route. Below is an map except. See Austin historic freeway planning maps for the full map. But arterial #8 is only a hindsight dream, and will never happen since that area is now a preserve for endangered species.
This 1987 City of Austin planning map shows the planned route of Arterial #8, roughly parallel to 2222. Arterial #8 was dead by 1994. The area is now mostly part of the Balcones Canyonlands Preserve.
2222 as it hugs Cat Mountain. Photo taken September 2000, looking north.
The low water crossing just east of Loop 360. I have lived very close to this intersection since January 1997, and water has overflowed the roadway only once during this period, and for only a brief time. The crossing adds to the roadway's rural character. September 2000, looking east.
This is a view of Loop 360 where it crosses 2222. Notice the wide right-of-way on 360. Both 360 and 2222 were once planned to be freeways at this point. September 2000, looking northeast.
(Click image for high resolution, 160k) This view looks west from the Loop 360 overpass. West of Loop 360, 2222 is a wider, safer roadway with a central turning lane and paved medians. Before these improvements to 2222 in the early 1990's, this section was a very dangerous stretch of road. Photo taken 5-May-2001.
(Click image for high resolution, 413k) This view looks east over the highway from the Jollyville Plateau, about halfway between 360 and 620. Although not shown in the photo, there is a very steep grade on 2222 at this location, just to the lower right side of the photo. (See photo below). This corridor has only recently been urbanized. The office building was completed in early 2001. Photo taken 7-May-2001.
(Click image for high resolution, 316k) This view looks east down the steep grade at the edge of the Jollyville Plateau. I certainly hope that future improvement plans will reduce the steepness of the grade. Photo taken 7-July-2001.
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