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Questions arise on Blanco River bridge funds

A lack of information on a proposed $30 million bridge that could span the Blanco River in Kyle led officials to question placing the project on the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization’s (CAMPO) 2040 plan.

However, Kyle Mayor Todd Webster said the project, which he claimed was mistakenly placed on a list for CAMPO funding, is still at least a decade to 15 years from construction.

The project involves the proposed Blanco-Nance Bridge, which is a multi-lane bridge that would span the Blanco River on Hilliard Road in a recently annexed area of Kyle. The bridge, which is proposed to have a pedestrian and bike lane, was part of a development agreement between the city of Kyle and the Nance Family trust.

Webster said the city saw the bridge as a benefit to improve connectivity on the southwest side of Kyle, where there are a “lot of development plans.” Currently, the city has approved roughly 21,000 living unit equivalents (LUEs), or wastewater connections, for the property.

Plans for the property include commercial and residential development, as well as potential office space. Funding for construction of the bridge is expected to come from tax increment financing (TIF), where the city would use revenue from residential and property values to construct the bridge.

The proposed bridge would connect Kyle and San Marcos, allowing for more development in the recently annexed area. (courtesy map)

“It’s similar to what we did with FM 1626 and the Kyle Parkway Bridge,” Webster said.

But CAMPO officials Sept. 11 were confused when the proposed project was added as an amendment to its 2040 regional transportation plan list for funding.

Will Conley, CAMPO Transportation Police Board chairperson, said Sept. 11 action on the project was “extremely premature” as the bridge did not go through any public process in Kyle or through Hays County. The project was found not to be on the city’s or county’s transportation plan.

Conley recommended CAMPO take the project out of the Regional Transportation Plan in order to have the bridge go through the proper channels and dialogue.

John Thomaides, mayor of San Marcos and member of the policy board, said Sept. 11 he was caught a “little off guard” by the proposed project.

“This is a project that literally the first time I heard about it was when I got my agenda,” Thomaides said. “I appreciate the process of sitting down and working through this in a thoughtful way.”

But the bridge also stirred up consternation from several residents who were concerned about how it could impact the area.

Diane Wassenich, who represents the San Marcos River Foundation, was concerned the bridge could lead to an increased flooding risk downstream.

Kelly Davis, an attorney with the Save our Springs (SOS) Alliance, said the group opposed the bridge as it would be built over the recharge zone of the Barton Springs segment of the Edwards Aquifer.

According to online Barton Springs Edwards Aquifer Conservation District maps, the recharge zone boundary ends on the southern portion on Center Street in Kyle, heads northwest along FM 150 toward Plum Creek, Meadow Woods and then on to Hays High School, miles from the Hilliard Road bridge location.

Davis said the bridge could lead to more development, which in turn would lead to more impervious cover and an increased flood risk.

Brad Stoddard, who lives along Hilliard Road, supports the bridge, which he believes would help students living in the area have an easier commute to school.

“Anyone who lives in this area and thinks development is not going to come is kind of crazy,” Stoddard said. “Our area is an example of what not to do in setting up land and development.”

Webster said he assumes the city would go through “whatever planning process” to get community engagement when the time comes, but added critics are “prematurely jumping on this thing to kill it in its infancy.”

Kyle would also have to follow required compliance and rules regarding construction over the aquifer.

“I don’t believe for a second the Nance Family or anyone with their project would want to do this in an environmentally irresponsible way,” Webster said.

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