New, major roadway expected to bring growth to north Williamson County

A trip to Bartlett, with its red brick Main Street, is like taking a walk in the past. Mackenzie McNeese, who recently moved to town, is excited about what a new, major roadway could do for her family budget.

"I literally just had a job here, and I worked the whole week and got paid $170, and that’s why I had to trade other jobs and do something else so my son, here, can start a new life here," said McNeese.

A vote by Williamson County Commissioners Tuesday set in motion a project to extend Ronald Reagan Boulevard east from where it ends at I-35 south of Jarrell. The road currently doesn’t have a specific path, only a broad corridor from the interstate to Hwy 95 somewhere between Bartlett and Granger. The area is currently dominated by tall fields of corn and a lot of ranch land. The survey authorized by commissioners will identify historically sensitive areas to avoid.

"Well I'd loved to have the corridor finished yesterday. But really it’s going to take several years to get that done," said County Judge Bill Gravell.

Judge Gravell said it’s too soon to announce a construction timeline. The reason for the extension, however, is clear.

"Just like the Ronald Reagan extension from I-35 down to Parmer years ago that seemed a road to nowhere, and for some this may seem a road to nowhere, but what you'll discover is through the next few years you'll see some of the most amazing growth you'll ever see in that area," said Gravell.

Two power generators located in the town’s old power plant, in a way, represent the kind of big transition Bartlett has already gone through. They once provided electricity for this community and now city leaders are charged up about what’s coming.

"Excitement, anticipation, a little bit of nervousness to be honest with you," said Bartlett City Administrator Joseph Resendez.

Samsung's plan to locate in Taylor sent shock waves up and down Hwy 95. But even before that happened, Resendez said the town was already working on improving the water and drainage system. Their inside out growth plan starts with protecting the town's historic main street.

"And then the next ring is our existing neighborhoods, and that’s part of the original heritage of Bartlett so as we assimilate this new growth then you are seeing concentric rings outside and outside of that, the newer shinier things will be on the outside, but the historical integrity of the city itself we will maintain its core philosophy and identity," said Resendez.

An area at a crossroads, between past and future.