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FM 150 circle gets funding

Construction of a proposed roundabout at the FM 3237 and FM 150 split near Driftwood could soon become a reality.

The project, which is part of the county’s FM 150 Character Plan, was included on a list of projects approved for federal and state funding through the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization (CAMPO).

On May 5, CAMPO allocated $70 million toward several transportation projects, including the roundabout. The county requested $6.63 million for its $9.47 million roundabout.

The project will also include the construction of turn lanes at the intersection. While engineering and design work for the project is underway, funding from CAMPO will not be available until Fiscal Year (FY) 2020.

The roundabout, which was also approved in Hays County’s 2016 Bond Election, has been discussed as a traffic solution for the intersection for several years. Due to growth in Hays County and increased traffic in the area, the roundabout is seen as a safety feature to control traffic better than a standard intersection.

Ray Whisenant, Hays County Pct. 4 Commissioner, said the county has worked with engineers and property owners in the area to look at different options. Officials eventually decided that the roundabout will “provide better traffic combining capabilities.”

“It was mainly a safety concern. It was a pretty dangerous intersection with the volume of vehicles coming through,” said Hays County Pct. 2 Commissioner Mark Jones, who is also on the Transportation Policy Board of CAMPO. “We had it in our bond package already, but now the CAMPO funding will help us not to use all of our capacity on those bond projects.”

Although some people in the area have shown opposition to the roundabout in the past, Casey Cutler, who is the director of public outreach with the Driftwood Historical Conservation Society (DHCS), said once people understand the project, they are more comfortable with it.

While not everyone liked the idea, Cutler said there was no “significant opposition” to the project.

“Many people said, ‘Well I can live with this,’,” Cutler said. “No one wanted to turn that area into a stoplight intersection. It wouldn’t maintain the softness we’re trying to maintain in the rural area and keep the feel of Driftwood.”

Cutler said the roundabout will cut back on air pollution in the area from idling cars. If a standard stoplight were put in, cars would be idling while waiting in traffic to get through the intersection.

Cutler also praised the county for its work with the public to make the smooth transition for traffic solutions.

“This was well coordinated publicly,” Cutler said.

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