City engineers expect to use $2.5 million from Kyle’s general and utilities funds to supplement the $36 million road bond package approved by voters in May 2013 to ensure completion of five projects.
Construction is underway for two of the five projects, Goforth Road and Bunton Creek, and are projected to reach completion this summer.
“We had to get some assistance from the general fund and the utility fund to make sure our projects were completed,” said City Engineer Leon Barba. “And we’re working with the contractor; we’re trying to give them the opportunity to speed these projects up, but at the same time we’re cautious about how we spend our money. “
The Goforth Road project includes the street spanning from Interstate Highway 35 to Bunton Creek Rd. and the road’s extension from Bunton Creek to Kyle Parkway. The project is intended to alleviate traffic near Susie Fuentes Elementary School and adjacent subdivisions, officials said.
Barba said contractors expect to be done with the entire Goforth Road improvement by this May. However, he believes it probably won’t be completed until June.
“Goforth has been a nightmare for those of us who live on that side of the highway,” said District 6 Council member Daphne Tenorio at the Jan. 17 city council meeting. “This is really dragging on for those of us who live there and it’s huge, beyond inconvenience.”
Tenorio said overall, the road bond projects seem to be over time and over budget.
Barba, who gave a progress report on the road bond projects Jan. 17, said he isn’t trying to make excuses, but there have been time consuming utility issues with the Goforth Road project.
However, he said, there have been some victories so far, as the Marketplace Avenue upgrade from Burleson to City Lights Drive was finished ahead of schedule for $200,000 less than what it was budgeted for.
But Barba said the project was “an open road” and that it was “out in the middle of nowhere.”
“These other roads are right in the middle of all the development, the residential, the retail businesses, and any project that you do like that it just becomes an issue trying to work through utilities, trying to work and keep people at other sites and being able to get in and out,” Barba said. “So these are tough projects.”
The Bunton Creek improvements consist of a two-way left turn lane to quicken the flow of buses and trucks through the area, the placement of a three-way stop at Goforth and Dacy Lane, improved drainage conditions and wastewater improvements.
Barba said the city has to wait to assess the progress on Goforth and Bunton Creek roads before beginning the improvement process of Lehman, which is intended to aid the flow of traffic and enhance low-water crossings. However, if those two meet projected completion dates, Barba said he hopes to let the Lehman project this June and begin construction in September.
Officials hope to let the Burleson project in August. The Burleson project is a two-lane reconstruction from Miller to Lockhart Streets that calls for widening three lanes from Lockhart to the new Marketplace extension with sidewalk gaps on the west side of the roadway, and a three lane extension to I-35 southbound frontage road.
However, they still have to acquire six parcels of property before the project can move forward. If everything continues on schedule, Barba said he hopes to begin construction in November.
District 4 Council member David Wilson said he believes the cost of the road projects may have exceeded the allotted bond money due to actions by a former council before Barba started working for the city.
He said that before the bond election, former council member Jaime Sanchez convinced the majority of the council to renegotiate engineering contracts to exclude right-of-way (ROW) acquisition and public meetings, framing it as a way for the city to save money.
However, Wilson said, those things still have to be done so the city ended up absorbing the cost as they had to hire qualified people to take over the duties in addition to paying for the engineering contracts.
“So this predates you, so I’m not aiming at you,” Wilson said to Barba. “I hate road construction, trying to drive through it. Had I lived in that neighborhood (near Goforth Road) and had to drive through it, I would have been frustrated as well. That’s kind of understandable, but we’re moving forward and that’s a positive thing.”