By Moses Leos III
Having grown up in Kyle for most of her life, resident Peggy Jansen has seen how rapid growth has placed a strain on city roads.
But with conditions on Lehman and Bunton Creek roads continuing to deteriorate, Jansen and many others now wonder how much longer they’ll have to wait for relief.
“Lehman Road used to be a bad road. That road is much better than Bunton. You can’t drive on [Bunton] without feeling like you will tear up your car,” Jansen said. “Bunton is truly impassable. It’s been like that for five years.”
Kyle residents heard updates on the Lehman, Bunton Creek and Burleson road projects during a pair of public meetings on Nov. 19 and 20. All three fall within Kyle’s $36 million bond that approved by voters in 2013.
According to Kyle City Engineer Leon Barba, Bunton Creek is approaching the 60 percent completion phase. Bunton Creek, which is to be a two- and three-lane thoroughfare, has an estimated cost that is “close to the authorized $5 million budget,” according to project manager Joann Garcia.
In August, Barba presented a cost estimate with a $1.6 million overrun.
Lehman Road, which will remain two lanes with a turn lane at several intersections, has an estimated cost of $6.86 million. Burleson Road is to be completed in three phases with an estimated cost of $8.2 million.
But residents had concerns on the status of Bunton Creek.
Kyle resident Daniel Ender, who lives along Lehman Road, has dealt with the uneven, often potholed street of Bunton Creek. Along with damage to cars, Enger said the road also poses a danger to motorists.
“Sometimes you drive in the middle (of the street), and I’ve done this too, because you don’t want to damage your car, you drive in the middle until you see another car, and then you go back to the other side,” he said. “Someone can easily have a head-on collision that way.”
Larry Jones, who lives in Bunton Creek Estates, has also seen 18-wheeler traffic damage the road. Jones said the city’s previous attempts to fix the road five years ago were “minimal.”
“Bunton Road is worse than the Alaskan Highway was in 1974 when they had a gravel road,” Jones said. “They did a better job of repairing (that) gravel road than what the city of Kyle has done repairing Bunton.”
Jones posed questions on how the city plans to maintain Bunton prior to construction.
Barba said discussions are in progress on solutions to maintain Bunton Creek. However, with the road undergoing a complete reconstruction, the city is hesitant to spend money on minor fixes.
“We don’t want to spend a lot of money, but we have to make it safe and at the same time, we have to make it hold,” Barba said.
For Jansen, who lives along Lehman Road, the time frame for both Lehman and Bunton Creek reconstructions were a concern. Lehman is slated to begin construction in 2016.
But Barba said the process for planning roads is a complex process. Beginning with picking a consultant, the process involves a list of items prior to the construction phase. Examples include surveying, drainage assessments, environmental studies, alignment assessments, right-of-way acquisition and utility surveying.
“If it was a brand new road, that’s a different story. But these are existing roadways,” Barba said. “They are difficult to deal with. That’s true of any city.”
Jansen approved the plans to keep Lehman Road to two lanes. She said it means landowners living along the road wouldn’t be affected as much.
But for Jones, the plan for Bunton may have “too many shortcuts.” In addition, he believes not all questions were answered by the city.
“I believe this was to show what’s going on, but they weren’t prepared for the onslaught of questions, or answers to the solutions that exist,” he said.