By Andy Sevilla
With federal money up for grabs and several roadways to improve, Kyle city leaders are angling for a slice of government help.
The Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization (CAMPO) will divvy out $75.6 million in the next five years to help fund regional and local transportation projects within its six-county jurisdiction.
Kyle council members are looking for help funding a bicycle and sidewalk project, as well as two of five roads from a road bond Kyle voters approved last May.
With about 70 percent support, Kyle voters green-lighted a $36 million road bond set to reconstruct Bunton Creek, Burleson, Goforth and Lehman roads, as well as extend Marketplace Avenue.
Construction on the first roadway was expected this summer, though turnover at City Hall and a late start on negotiating engineering contracts has delayed the start date until about May 2015.
In developing a road project priority list that could fare well at CAMPO, council members advanced a shovel-ready bicycle and sidewalk project along FM 150 and FM 2770 from Center Street to Hays High School, as well the reconstruction of Burleson and Goforth roads. Kyle City Engineer Leon Barba said in a phone interview Monday those projects will be submitted to CAMPO for funding consideration before the July 21 deadline.
Bunton Creek Road, which council members have referred to as dangerous and in need of immediate repair, was left out of the CAMPO list because that project will move forward once its engineering is done next summer, officials said.
“It happens a lot, when you apply for grants, you end up holding off on a project,” Mayor Todd Webster said at a June council meeting. “You’re talking about 2017 applying for a grant for one of these roads. The community has approved bond resources to build these roads, and my sense from having recently spent a lot of time in the community is that the level of patience for us to wait until 2017 to build these roads so we can apply for grant money, I don’t think that’s out there.”
Federal funding for the bike and sidewalk project is being asked for in 2016, as the 2015 year has limited dollars and projects are more likely to miss out on funding that year, Barba said. Funding for Burleson and Goforth roads will be asked for in 2017 and 2018 to coincide with when those roadways’ reconstruction is expected, Barba said.
Burleson Street, however, could miss out on federal funding, as the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) presently does not identify it as a major collector roadway, the minimum designation needed to be eligible for money. Barba said he is confident the federal agency will reclassify the street. Barba said a meeting with the FHWA to consider reclassification in June was cancelled, but CAMPO staff is currently seeking to discuss the matter.
Barba said the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) has hinted to its approval of designating Burleson Street as a major collector, and the decision now lies with FHWA.
Along with Burleson Street, Marketplace Avenue is not presently designated as a major collector; Bunton Creek, Goforth and Lehman roads are.
Sometime in September or October CAMPO’s transportation policy board could finalize a list of projects to be funded with the federal Surface Transportation Program Metropolitan Mobility (STP-MM) dollars. Barba said Kyle’s submitted projects could compete for federal money with as many as 180 other road projects in Bastrop, Burnett, Caldwell, Hays, Travis and Williamson counties.
The bicycle and sidewalk project is the only one that is shovel-ready, for which council reluctantly gave it top priority among the six road projects.
“If a shovel-ready project is going to be prioritized (in CAMPO), then I’d rather get something than nothing,” Webster said.
Engineering on the five road bond streets began in April, and is expected to be finalized in May next year.