Fixing FM 1626: Buda seeks study to disarm traffic woes

Traffic woes at the FM 1626 and RM 967 intersection was the impetus for Buda City Council to submit a proposal for two planning studies.

The council approved the applications to the Capital Area Metro Planning Organization (CAMPO) at its Feb. 6 meeting for funding for the studies.

Buda City Engineer John Nett said CAMPO offered a planning study project call to area municipalities in November 2017; the call had such a short deadline that many municipalities could not participate.

Nett said that, as a result of pushback from multiple cities, CAMPO authorized a second planning study project call with a submissions deadline of Feb. 15.

Nett said the first planning study for the intersection of FM 1626 and RM 967 would address current congestion, plans for pedestrian traffic and the cost and timeline for the project.

Councilmember Lee Urbanovsky said Buda was “behind the 8-ball” on the issues surrounding the FM 1626/RM 967 intersection. Getting the study done sooner rather than later would get the ball rolling towards an eventual solution, he said.

Nett said a combination of oversaturation of drivers at peak times and possible traffic signal configuration issues could be important factors in the congestion issues at the intersection.

Nett said if CAMPO selects the planning study for funding, the city’s 20 percent match would be approximately $50,000. CAMPO would hire the consultant with assistance from Buda city staff regarding the study’s scope.

Nett said the project would not be included in the current Transportation Improvement Program (TIP) from 2019-2022 but it could make it into the next TIP from 2023-2026, meaning residents could be waiting eight years to see traffic congestion ease.

“This planning study would help us to find the interim steps that can be done to try and mitigate the congestion issues sooner rather than later,” Nett said.

Urbanovsky said residents might have to modify their commuting schedules in order to avoid backups at the FM 1626 and RM 967 intersection. He said when Hays County completes its project to widen FM 1626, some of the congestion issues should be lessened.

“What the county’s doing, widening 1626, it will get better but we need to do this study before Highway 45 comes through and makes the congestion at that intersection worse,” Urbanovsky said.

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