An estimated $1.4 million project calling for completion of the Garlic Creek Trail system is what Buda city leaders plan to submit for possible state funding.
But some Buda City Council members worried the proposed project, if completed, could negatively impact school bus service for residents in nearby neighborhoods.
John Nett, Buda City Engineer, introduced plans to complete the Garlic Creek Trail as a possible submission to the Texas Department of Transportation’s call for 2019 Safe Routes to School funding. Buda city leaders voted 7-0 to move ahead with the first phase, which requires a city to submit a preliminary application that will be prescreened by TxDOT. If the project advances to a second phase, Buda officials could then provide a more detailed application to contend for roughly $8 million in state dollars.
Nett said the trails project, which is in the city’s Parks Master Plan and is to be funded through Proposition 5 of the 2014 Buda bond, is “redundant” and doesn’t create a new path where one doesn’t exist. Nett cited existing routes of connectivity between Elm Grove Elementary and neighborhoods in the area.
Completion of the Garlic Creek Trail calls for a 10-food wide concrete path, as well as other amenities; the trail would be ADA compliant.
“This is a larger benefit to the community,” Nett said.
Council member Lee Urvanovsky, however, worried about the unintended consequences of the project and how it could impact bus service.
Under the Safe Routes to School program, students within two miles of a campus are not required to be provided bus service unless there is no safe walking path. Construction of the proposed trail, which might require a second pedestrian bridge over Garlic Creek, could connect areas of Cullen Country to Oyster Creek, which he felt would place them within the two-mile buffer.
Joe Cantalupo, a representative with KFriese and Associates, which is helping Buda in the application process, said there was “nothing about the trail” that he felt could alter bus services.
City council member Paul Daugereau said he was all for the application process “as long as it doesn’t impede some of the busing zones.”
Urbanovsky, as well as council member Evan Ture, both advocated for the city to possibly apply for state funding to help construct sidewalks along San Antonio Road (OSR) leading to the new Buda Elementary Campus.
“I like elementary schools that are walkable and Buda Elementary will not be walkable when it opens in August,” Ture said.
A lack of detailed information on what sidewalks could look like on OSR was one of several issues that led Catalupo to avoid recommending submission of that project. When SRTS state funding discussions began in 2017, Buda and KFreise officials realized a consensus was needed among Hays and Travis Counties, as well as Austin and Buda on what the road reconstruction would look like, Nett said.
Only half of Old San Antonio road falls within Buda boundaries. Going with the trails project could allow for Buda to break it up into sections, which might make it more attractive for state funds. Cantalupo said the OSR project might have to be submitted as a whole.
“One project might good for the next call because it might be a better fit in the category for transportation, while others might be good for Safe Routes to School,” Cantalupo said. “You can’t put every project in a call, but you put them where they are suited.”