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Commissioners approve wish list of roads for stimulus funds
Tuesday, January 27, 2009 by Jacob Cottingham
Travis County Commissioners have approved a list of specific roads projects they plan to submit to the Texas Department of Transportation for funding under a potential federal stimulus package.
Executive Director Joe Gieselman of the Transportation and Natural Resources Department told commissioners last week the guidelines for projects to be submitted was constantly changing. He said a recent conversation with Bob Daigh, TxDOT District Engineer for
This process is part of the National Environmental Policy Act, which sets the foundation for federal environmental policy. What this latest specification entails is that projects to be included in the list submitted by the county should be “shovel ready” and already clear of any environmental hurdles. The court had already approved a list of projects for CAMPO to take to TxDOT for consideration of the expected federal stimulus funds.
Gieselman told Commissioners “we haven’t rescinded our old list because we don’t know ultimately what criteria will be used. But we have good information that we might not get those projects approved. So we’ve come back with a B list that don’t need NEPA qualifications.”
Last week’s revised list, labeled the “B-list,” includes several repaving and resurfacing projects that are within the existing right-of-way. Commissioners were also asked to vote on removing
Work likely wouldn’t be completed until 2010, Gielselman said. Municipalities across the state are scrambling to submit projects, and Gieselman reported that there are already 10 to 12 times more projects than can likely be funded.
“At the risk of igniting a whole other debate, I need to tell Commissioner (Ron)
Pct. 1 Commissioner Davis perked up and another debate did indeed begin. Although Gieselman said the new version of the US 290 East project was a ramp addition, not a toll road, he did say that the initial toll road extension of US 290E from US183 to SH130 remained on the list.
“They have not accepted that, and they haven’t approved it, period. And even during the public hearing on a lot of these things, they weren’t even allowed to testify in the public setting.” Gieselman said that the original $504 million toll road widening of US 290E was not NEPA certified and likely could run into problems – hence the revised version which would only add ramps to the road not additional capacity.
“I don’t want to say squabbled over, but everybody will have their hands in the pot to try to get what they feel will be used in their area,”
Judge Sam Biscoe made a motion to vote on the “plan B” projects, but
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