by ANDY SEVILLA
Buda and Kyle roads might get some needed additional improvements, if all goes as planned by Hays County commissioners.
The commissioners court unanimously approved a $123 million state and county partnership that would trail-blaze $34 million in road improvements for Buda and allocate $5 million to Kyle.
The proposal calls for $88 million from the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT), $48 million of which will be reimbursed to the state through a Transportation Reinvestment Zone (TRZ). The county would contribute $35 million to the nine projects identified in the proposal.
The county’s contribution to the partnership come from the savings accrued from the Pass-Through and Priority Road Bond programs approved by voters in 2008.
“By taking advantage of innovative partnership arrangements, low interest rates and lower-than-expected material and labor costs we’ve managed to bring our road projects in well under budget,” said County Judge Bert Cobb. “That’s good news for anyone who travels through or within Hays County because we can fund more road improvements for our stressed transportation system.”
The most expensive project the partnership will address in Buda is the $18 million widening of FM 2001 from Interstate 35 to State Highway 21.
Buda will also have its truck bypass extended from FM 967 to FM 2770 for an estimated cost of $10 million. A future phase of the truck bypass project that would expand it from FM 2770 to FM 1626, not included in this funding, is expected to cost $6.5 million.
FM 967, from FM 1626 to I-35, will be rebuilt to three lanes with shoulders for an estimated cost of $6.1 million.
Another piece of the proposal is to remove a stretch of FM 967 between FM 1626 and Buda from the state highway system and place the Buda Truck Bypass on the state system, according to Pct. 2 Commissioner Mark Jones.
“That’s a swap that makes sense,” Jones said. “Improving FM 967 to relieve traffic congestion west of Buda and building the truck bypass would take care of Buda’s two biggest safety and mobility priorities.”
Meanwhile, in Kyle, $5.1 million will go towards the addition of center turn lanes and shoulders on FM 150 East from Lehman Road to State Highway 21.
“Funding this plan will allow us to complete some new projects and position others to take advantage of additional funding when that funding becomes available as well as finish some projects that have been hoped for and discussed for years,” said Pct. 1 Commissioner Debbie Gonzales Ingalsbe.
The county’s “number one priority” and costliest project in the proposal is the construction of FM 110, two lanes with 10-foot shoulders and grade-separations, that would connect north and south San Marcos on the east side. FM 110 would be built from the Yarrington Road Bridge on I-35 to State Highway 123.
FM 110’s construction is estimated to cost $48 million, which TxDOT is anticipated to front, and the county will expend $12 million in right-of-way acquisition and engineering.
“Improvements and economic potential in that area could finally be realized – it’s been on the table for several decades,” Ingalsbe said.
The proposal would also address replacing the I-35/Posey Road interchange in San Marcos; engineering and right-of-way acquisition for a planned extension of FM 150 from Ranch Road 12, south of Dripping Springs, to I-35 in Kyle; improving and adding shoulders to Ranch Road 12 in San Marcos to FM 32, The Junction, south of Wimberley, and building new northbound I-35 ramps from Blanco River to Yarrington Road in north San Marcos.
TxDOT will review the proposal and the commissioners court expects to hear from the state agency in April.