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County eyes roundabout near Hays City store

A potential roundabout at the FM 150 and FM 3237 intersection near Driftwood could be considered within a character plan aimed at revamping the stretch of road between Kyle and Dripping Springs.

The proposed roundabout was part of an update on the plan given to the Hays County Commissioners Court early last week.

Joe Cantalupo, K-Friese and Associates vice president and FM 150 Character Plan project manager, said his team set out to understand the corridor and learn what nearby residents value about the road.

Cantalupo said that this plan was slated for completion in November or December 2017, but residents of the county spoke out to accelerate the project.

The FM 150 character plan seeks to gather input from the citizens of Hays County on how the span of road between Arroyo Ranch Road in Kyle and Ranch Road (RR) 12 in Dripping Springs should be approached for the future.

Officials have said the road will eventually need more capacity to accommodate the anticipated future growth in population of Hays County.

This portion of the road is unique in that it features multiple water crossings and passes through a rural and underdeveloped portion of the county.

The conception of this plan came in November of 2014.

Improved include better intersections, widened shoulders in dangerous areas and the construction of a bypass road that could pass through the Rutherford Ranch.

In addition to providing input on considerations of alternative intersections, the project team is considering inclusion of a roundabout at the intersection of FM 150 and FM 3237.

Cantalupo said his team is currently in the process of doing testing on both the safety and environmental impacts of a roundabout. He admitted that, as a team, they are sold on the roundabout for its potential safety features and high capacity for vehicles.

“The great benefit of a roundabout is in this setting, if designed properly, it can take up to 20,000 cars a day, is much safer than a normal “T” intersection, and it could very well have less impact on the surrounding property owners,” said Cantalupo.

However, Hays County Judge Bert Cobb voiced concerns with the possibility of a roundabout.

“Why did the federal government spend around one billion dollars taking out roundabouts?” asked Cobb. “Because they don’t work – they’re dangerous.”

Hays County Pct. 3 Commissioner Will Conley said the court must go off the community of people that have had tremendous involvement in this project.

“This is not a ‘build it and they will come’ strategy from Hays County or TxDOT,” Conley said. “Having this plan gives us the opportunity to be proactive and not reactive to the activities of the central working part of Hays County.”

Pct. 4 Commissioner Ray Whisenant seconded Conley’s sentiment on the importance of public input and commitment of time from Hays County citizens.

Cantalupo defended the project while commenting on the deliberate, open and transparent process of the plan. He said doing so could provide additional steps to make such a plan “live on.”

“The idea is that the more you put in up front, the more proactive you are, the more input you get, the greater chance you have of a plan or program living over time,” Cantalupo said.

The updated schedule calls for the public input portion of the plan to be completed by June or August 2017, with a complete character plan is likely to be published this summer on the county website.

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