by VERONICA GORDON
Five top priority road improvement projects have emerged as part of the city of Kyle’s visioning process.
A group of 50 residents who attended a community visioning forum in May recommended selling general obligation bonds and raising taxes and fees to pay for the reconstruction and expansion of roads as well as other projects.
The projects, if implemented at the same time, would raise the average resident’s tax bill by $89 per month and utility bill by $4.50 per month.
The projects recommended by the group include selling bonds to pay for reconstruction and expansion of five roads, construction of a new police station, hiring up to 25 new police officers and associated staff and equipment, engineering for new roads, reallocation of sales tax currently going toward property tax reduction, and expansion of the city’s water and wastewater system to spur additional economic development, and various other staffing and program enhancements.
The roads to be addressed are Lehman, North Burleson, Bunton Creek, the Marketplace extension and Goforth. Marketplace Road, just west of H-E-B and Target, would be extended to meet Burleson Street near the railroad tracks, sidestepping the Interstate 35 access road. The road projects would cost a total of $34.7 million.
The Kyle Mobility Committee held a public meeting last week as an opportunity for residents to provide input on the projects.
“The city did not pick these particular roads,” said Mobility Committee Chairman John Atkins. “The citizens chose them as the most important projects for the city to go forward.”
At the meeting, Kyle City Engineer Steve Widacki provided schematics and information about the cost, design and challenges of the proposed road improvements.
Lehman Road would be a combination of three and four lanes, Widacki explained.
“It would be a straight shot with two bridge crossings,” he said. “Additional features include a sidewalk on at least one side of the road and possible bike lanes.”
Goforth Road improvements would begin at the IH-35 frontage road and extend to the Bunton Creek Road intersection. Again, the plan is to have a combination of three and four lanes with a bridge crossing at Plum Creek. The plan includes drainage improvements and sidewalk along one side.
Marketplace Avenue would begin at North Burleson Street and end at City Lights Drive intersection. The road would be four lanes with bridges at Plum Creek and Spring Branch.
North Burleson Street improvements include a continuous turn lane, elimination of the low water crossing at Plum Creek and a new connection to the Interstate 35 frontage road. A sidewalk along one side is also part of the plan.
Widacki said the biggest obstacle facing the North Burleson Street project is the limited availability of right of way because of existing utility lines.
After the presentation, committee members heard suggestions and concerns from residents in attendance.
James Massaro, who lives in Steeplechase, said he’s worried about the pitfalls that come with reaching agreements with utility companies for relocation of power lines. He also asked the committee to consider discounts that might be available through Texas Department of Transportation funding.
“Make sure you do all the research,” Massaro said.
Lila Knight asked committee members about what criteria the city is using to make its decision about which projects to fund.
“I’m not convinced we have a firm methodology for which roads are priority. I think this is becoming political,” Knight said. “I’m also not convinced we’re getting the true cost of these projects. We need a true engineering study done. I don’t want Kyle to end up doing what they always do – stealing from Peter to pay Paul.”
Bill Bickford lives near Lehman Road and said he’s concerned for his neighbors’ safety.
“We only have one entrance to our subdivision,” he said. “When something like a flood happens, it’s chaos trying to get in and out of there.”
Atkins said the committee will present the input to the city council to consider.