Green could flow in downtown Buda this holiday season after officials announced plans to wait on improving the Main Street and FM 967 intersection until early 2020.
The timeline, given to area stakeholders during a meeting with officials Tuesday, was a relief for Andrew Maxwell, chair of the Buda downtown merchants association, who worried the construction could impact the busy holiday season.
Heading into Tuesday’s meeting, Maxwell said many local business owners didn’t have a firm timeframe of the construction project. Several business owners were initially told construction could start in October with completion in spring 2020.
“That could have been detrimental to a lot of the small businesses in Buda because, for a large majority of businesses, their main profit season is the 4th quarter holiday season shopping,” Maxwell said.
Buda Chamber of Commerce Managing Director J.R. Gonzales said the more definitive timeline will give downtown merchants a chance to prepare for any delays associated with construction.
Starting the project after the holidays won’t have as much of a financial impact on businesses, Maxwell said.
“The slowest time for the majority of retail around the world is January, February or March,” Maxwell said. “That’s the most ideal time for them to start.”
Gonzales said he was excited to see the improvements come to fruition as it could help alleviate traffic congestion in the downtown sector, as well as make downtown “a lot safer and more aesthetically pleasing.”
Improving the FM 967 and Main Street intersection is a joint project involving Buda and the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT), said Chris Bishop, TxDOT public information officer, in an emailed response.
Bishop said the project will add a left turn lane for traffic heading northbound on FM 967 and Main Street. In addition, the project also calls for sidewalk, pedestrian and signal improvements in the area.
The scope of the project is slated to encompass .16 miles starting on Peach Street and end on Ash Street. Bishop said 80 percent of the $1.175 million price tag for the project will be covered by federal tax funds, with Buda footing the final 20 percent. Buda was also responsible for the onsite engineering costs totaling $315,000.
Kenny Crawford, Buda project manager, said Buda Main Street manager Maggie Gillespie will work with downtown business owners to ensure they stay in the loop when construction begins, as well as ensure they remain visible to customers.
Meanwhile, Buda continues to march on with improvements on Main Street between Railroad Street and Cabela’s Drive. Crawford said barricades will soon go up to start Phase 1, which calls for working on the southern portion of Main Street. City offiicals expect Phase 1 to finish by late December, weather permitting, with Phase 2 of the project starting up after the holidays. Phase 2 of the improvements will cover the north side of Main Street.
A third phase focusing on the middle portion of the road will go from spring to summer 2020. Crawford said so far, Buda has done right-of-way (ROW) clearance and has moved fences and tree barriers, as well as started on utility relocation. Buda offiicals said the Main Street widening project is on schedule.
“What people aren’t seeing are activities that are occurring are the microcosmic things that have an impact on the existing traffic,” Crawford said.
Gonzales said while the widening project might be an inconvienence for downtown merchants, he doesn’t expect it to impact their bottom lines.
”It’s not going to have as big effect on commerce,” Gonzales said.