If you happen to be driving along Texas 130 in southwestern Travis County, you’ll notice a new sign that tells you Exit 446 now takes you onto Tesla Road.
That might not seem particularly surprising, as the $1.1 billion manufacturing facility that automaker Tesla is building is clearly visible just off the toll road.
But there is a sticking point: At the moment, there technically is no Tesla Road in Travis County.
The Travis County Commissioners Court is considering a request from Tesla to change the name of Harold Green Road — the road that runs in front of Tesla’s property — but the county has not yet formally made the change, and in fact isn’t yet even confirming what the new name might be.
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The Commissioners Court voted this week to hold a Dec. 21 public hearing on potentially changing the road’s name and to negotiate with Tesla about additional work on another nearby road. Commissioners declined to say what the potential new name for Harold Green Road might be.
Despite that, the Texas Department of Transportation has erected a sign proclaiming that the road is now Tesla Road. Google Maps also has already updated searches for “Harold Green Road” to instead show “Tesla Road.”
Brad Wheelis, a TxDOT public information officer, said the raising of the new Tesla Road sign was a result of a miscommunication between his agency and Travis County.
“TxDOT, Travis County and Tesla have been in constant communication about infrastructure during construction of the factory off of Harold Green Road,” Wheelis said. “As the result of a miscommunication, the Tesla Road signs were placed on SH 130 before the county officially signed off. TxDOT will await direction from the county regarding the signage and name change.”
The road has been called Harold Green Road since 1976, when the Commissioners Court voted to rename the roadway, which was previously called Hornsby Road. County officials said they had few details about the road’s renaming 45 years ago. However, it appears the road was named for Harold Green, who owned a dairy farm in the area known as Harold Green Farm and was well known in Travis County agriculture circles. Green was a rancher, homebuilder and tennis enthusiast who died in 1992.
The Commissioners Court has had a standing agenda item in recent weeks related to Tesla and Harold Green Road, but previous discussion has happened in executive session.
This week, the agenda item included updates on Tesla and called for discussion on several topics including extending Harold Green Road; the status and naming of Harold Green Road; permitting and compliance issues; as well as amending, modifying or extending the company’s economic development agreement. While most of the discussion on the item occurred in an executive session, the commissioners briefly took action to make a motion for the public hearing and further negotiation.
Tesla owns a sprawling 2,100-acre property at Texas 130 and Harold Green Road, where it is building a $1.1 billion manufacturing facility. In October, Tesla CEO Elon Musk announced at a shareholders meeting that the company would be moving its corporate headquarters to Austin.
Tesla has given few details since about its move and its new Austin headquarters, but said in a recent securities filing the company’s official corporate address is now 13101 Harold Green Road in Austin. Tesla has not said if it plans to build a separate headquarters building at the site, and it hasn’t given any details on how many employees might be coming to Central Texas or how many jobs might be created by the move.
The company’s manufacturing facility, which is expected to start production by the end of this year, will produce Tesla’s Cybertruck, Semi, Model 3 compact sedan, Model Y SUV and batteries. The company has said it could eventually hire up to 10,000 workers for the manufacturing facility.
As part of its motion this week, the Commissioners Court said it also will negotiate an amendment with Tesla to build a northern alignment along Elk Creek as a road. This would include improvements to Texas 130. Wheelis said the realignment plans are in the early stages and any potential changes or improvements to 130 would follow the TxDOT process.
TxDOT also already has plans for traffic improvements in the area, including installing a traffic signal at FM 973 and Harold Green Road and adding turn lanes along FM 973. It also plans to widen the road by adding one lane in each direction, which would include a center turn lane between FM 969 and Thyone Drive.