March 10, 2007
I’m sure nearly everyone in Central Texas has a fond memory of lighting out with a friend, a loved one, or a date for an afternoon on Lake LBJ, some barbecue at Cooper’s in Llano, or hiking on Enchanted Rock. And, I’m sure, the ride is usually remembered nearly as fondly as the destination.
All of those places are on or near State Highway 71, a principal route through the Hill Country and one of Texas’ gems. The road rolls over hills and opens into vistas that couldn’t possibly belong to another state.
However, the road is also under enormous pressure from development. Coming out of Austin and running parallel with U.S. 290, subdivisions are multiplying along the road. The more people move there, the more of a market they create for advertisers. And advertisers erect billboards, which block out the very vistas that people drive on the road to see.
SB 669, very simply, would have forbid future billboards on Highway 71 between Austin’s city limits and SH 16 through Llano. Such protections would have mirrored those along a similar stretch of U.S. 290 between Austin and Fredericksburg. However, while the bill was approved by the Texas Senate, it died in the state House of Representatives.
This bill reaffirmed the importance of preserving the scenery that’s such a big part of Texans’ lives and Texas’ identity. I think we can all agree that my kids are every bit as entitled to spend their lives savoring that drive – not to mention that barbecue – as I am.