A new six-lane road, with significant history behind its name, opened for residents last week.
Kenney Fort Boulevard, which connects Joe DiMaggio Boulevard and Forest Creek Boulevard, will now provide an alternate north-south route for people living in northeast Round Rock. The thoroughfare extends about a mile-and-a-half over Brushy Creek and under U.S. Highway 79 near the Union Pacific Railroad, Dell Diamond and Old Settlers Park.
Round Rock transportation director Gary Hudder said city officials budgeted $25 million for the road, but it will come in $1.5 million under budget.
“This is the single largest road project the city staff of Round Rock has managed in-house,” Hudder said. “We’re proud this project is under budget and on time.”
The city contributed $17 million toward the arterial while Williamson County chipped in $8 million.
Kenney Fort Boulevard is also a key piece of the Heritage Trail Project, a long-term project planned along Brushy Creek to tell the history of the city, Hudder said.
Kenney Fort was the first permanent settlement in Round Rock, built near the banks of Brushy Creek, Mayor Alan McGraw said during the ribbon-cutting ceremony Wednesday. The fort was named after Dr. Thomas Kenney, a physician who moved to Round Rock in 1839, McGraw said.
Kenney and several other men built the fort, equipped with four cabins, as protection against possible attacks from Native Americans. In November 1839, his wife, Mary Jane, and their daughters Mary Jane and Clarissa moved to the fort along with several other men. The fort housed as many as 15 people at one time. And it played a part in the state’s history.
In 1842, Sam Houston, then president of the Republic of Texas, wanted to move the capital from Austin to somewhere near the coast. His efforts were unsuccessful, so he and a group of men secretly stole the archives and official papers of the republic with plans to take them to the coast. A group of Austin residents saw these men steal the papers and chased them to Kenney Fort. Kenney and other people living at the fort convinced Houston and his allies to return the archives to Austin, McGraw said.
“When I researched Kenney Fort I found it was one of the most fascinating pieces of history in our area and maybe the state,” McGraw said. “It was a very short time, but a very significant time in Texas history.”