As work on improvements on Dacy Lane nears, residents believe more work needs to be done on the planning side of the project before blueprints are finalized.
Those concerns were presented by residents who attended an Oct. 3 open house at McCormick Middle School on the Dacy Lane improvement project, which is expected to begin summer 2019.
The ambitious project, for which the county budgeted around $20 million and includes funding from the voter-approved 2016 road bonds, includes the improvement and expansion of Dacy Lane, Hillside Terrace, FM 2001 to State Highway 21, Windy Hill Road and Cotton Gin Road.
One of the biggest concerns from residents was at the site of McCormick Middle School and the neighborhood adjacent to the school, where the engineering blueprints call for the addition of a two-lane road to alleviate traffic from the neighborhood to the school.
This new proposed road, called a “slip road,” would be utilized as a separate access to the school without disrupting the flow of traffic to the neighborhood. But for many living in the neighborhood, the additional road may cause additional safety and traffic issues.
James Delgado, a father of four and 40-year resident of the neighborhood at Hillside Drive, was concerned about the new plans as they don’t include a sidewalk or crosswalk. He believes it exacerbates the concerns parents have as many students walk to and from school each day.
Delgado said he walks his children to McCormick Middle School and they are forced to cross a busy intersection without a sidewalk or a crosswalk.
“There are no accessible sidewalks for all the kids that walk to school, and these kids have to walk on the grass as cars zoom by them,” Delgado said. “I fear every morning I wake up for my children’s safety and it doesn’t seem like those concerns are addressed.”
County officials have been made aware of this concern, but it is not yet known what changes may be made and when that deadline will occur.
Engineers and planners from LJA Engineering and county officials, including Commissioners Debbie Ingalsbe and Mark Jones, were among the crowd, answering any questions and learning about residents’ concerns as the night progressed.
The LJA staff encouraged residents to submit comments throughout the night, as the plans presented are preliminary.
Hays County officials and LJA staff will review the comments and address any changes that may come before finalizing plans.
The Dacy Lane improvement project has been on the radar of Hays County officials for the past decade before Jones took office in 2010.
The project calls for the addition of through-lanes and shoulders on Dacy Lane. According to Hays County officials, turn lanes will be added to most intersections.
The right-of-way acquisition process is underway along Dacy Lane to expand the road to four, 12-foot lanes with eight-foot shoulders.
For Michael Arreola, the decade-long delay between conception of the plan to construction made those living on the east side of Interstate 35 feel neglected.
Arreola said Dacy Lane and the surrounding areas have been desperate for road improvements that span long before the county’s efforts to develop the roadway.
“We still have questions, but I do know that from (the plans) we’ve seen today, those kids walking to the school (would not be) any safer than they are now,” Arreola said. “One of the engineers said that no crosswalks are included with the plans because there wasn’t a budget for it. So, is there not enough money for our kids’ safety?”
Ingalsbe said the open house was a great way for county officials to gauge the community’s concerns and she applauded the massive turnout which saw around 100 residents turn out for the event.
The commissioner acknowledged that the plans for the project are not finalized, and said the county will be diligently reading the submitted commits to determine what changes, if any, can be made before construction in 2019.