Summer 2020 is the time period officials expect to obtain results from an environmental impact study related to the proposed realignment of FM 150 in Hays County.
The project is a cooperative effort aimed at enhancing safety while providing an additional access to Interstate 35 going south, relieving congestion off of downtown Kyle at Center Street to the interstate.
An open house at the Hays Performing Arts Center in Kyle outlined a preliminary look at the project, including the proposed location of the roadway, which would start near Arroyo Ranch, head southwest and eventually connect to I-35.
But the project is years before construction, and engineers are currently conducting environmental studies to determine a possible location of the road.
According to some engineers at the open house, an environmental decision will be made by Summer 2020. The road ahead is filled with evaluations, public input and an environmental impact analysis.
Officials are also trying to stay cognizant of existing FEMA flood maps, historical sites, natural typography, cemeteries, wells and other natural features.
“When we look at existing 150 with the traffic demand, we found that most of those folks near downtown Kyle are going south, so the question is how do we provide people with an alternative way to head south,” said Laura Harris, the county’s general consulting project manager and senior project manager for HNTB, the engineering consulting firm on the project. “What we found is that most people going North take a left at 2770 and are not part of the congestion and safety issues in downtown Kyle.”
Joe Cantalupo, a general consulting project manager, said it is too early to tell where the road may be located. Officials use color-coded maps to offer citizens a visual representation as to where the roadway might be.
“Every step in the screening we look at these potential spots in more detail and we’ll eventually narrow down the options,” Cantalupo said.
Part of this screening includes the effect on the contributing and recharge zones of the Edwards Aquifer, the habitat of the endangered Golden Cheeked Warbler and potential impact on residential and commercial displacements.
The county has some funding in its 2017 bond package, but no construction dollars are currently allocated to the project. So far, the county has only committed to the engineering and environmental analysis before it can even begin looking at a potential location for the road.
A record of decision, which will be conducted by Summer 2020, is the result of the environmental impact study. If the environment is deemed inefficient for such roadway, a decision can be made “to do nothing” or to proceed with the project, according to the engineers.
“This environmental study will have us to a certain level of engineering,” Cantalupo said. “This will allow us to talk to folks in more detail about the impacts on property, natural and archeological resources will be. It’ll also tell us how to mitigate that if we can.”
The engineers said comments and concerns can be submitted to Nov. 8 by email, mail or submission online. Details can be found at www.improvefm150.com.