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Hays Commissioners Court votes to fund SH 21 improvements

Monday, July 14, 2008 by Jacob Cottingham

The Hays County Commissioners Court has approved left-turn lanes on State Highway 21 after bundling the improvements with the Oak Branch Drive realignment project. The court on Tuesday approved $520,427.71 for the realignment and $1,164,576 for the SH 21 project. The money will come from leftover funds raised from 2001 road bond interest.

 

The estimated cost for the Oak Branch realignment is from consultants HNTB. According to County Auditor Bill Herzog there is still approximately $1.5 million left from that bond, though Commissioner Debbie Ingalsbe said there might be additional funds generated in further interest.

 

Ingalsbe recommended a left-hand turn constructed at Yarrington Road and another at either CR 127 (High Road.) or FM 2001 West. The latter two turns were priorities number two and three in the SH 21 Safety Improvement Study completed by Lockwood, Andrews & Newnam.

 

The study included input from schools, neighborhoods and other stakeholders. Yarrington Rd. was one of three improvements not among the top six recommendations. The report estimates a cost of $582,238 for each of the turn improvements. The county intended to complete the Oak Branch realignment project after the 2001 bond money became available but ran into snags when the previous landowners would not sell to the County. The new landowner has agreed to donate the small parcel to the county.

 

Commissioner Will Conley voiced initial opposition to the proposal, saying, “I just don’t understand the urgency for the court to use the remaining bond money when we have a bond committee already evaluating improvements… We have an election in November that I believe will be successful.” Conley was also concerned about what appeared to be the priority these roads were receiving when others, such as RR 12 in his precinct, also needed improvements.

 

Commissioner Karen Ford said that improvements due to be made along US 290, which runs through the intersection being aligned, would allow for efficiencies of economy and prompted some urgency. Hays County Road Superintendent Jerry Borcherding told the court a new concrete plant is going to be built at corner of Yarrington and SH 21, which would result in heavy truck traffic clogging the road. Commissioner Jeff Barton chose to include CR 127 because it was rated a higher priority than FM 2001.

 

A few weeks ago the Court had approved the project under condition that it be funded by the $19.5 million in revenue bonds the court had raised. However, “when we spoke to bond counsel they said this particular project could not come out of revenue bonds because it had no revenue tied to it,” Ford said.

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