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Split Hays court votes to support State Highway 45
Wednesday, May 19, 2010 by Austin Monitor
Hays County commissioners narrowly approved a resolution Tuesday in support of the construction of State Highway 45 SW, voting 3-2 to recommend that the stretch of road remain part of the 2035 CAMPO transportation plan.
Commissioners Jeff Barton, Will Conley, and Debbie Ingalsbe supported the motion, while Hays County Judge Liz Sumter and Pct. 4 Commissioner Karen Ford opposed it.
“It’s essential for the citizens of Hays County to have a better connection to MoPac, and I think it’s essential for the folks who live around Brodie Lane and the Shady Oaks area to have this relief,” Conley said.
Ford disagreed. She represents the northwestern part of the county, which would be most affected by the construction of SH45, and said the proposed highway would bring “additional traffic and congestion on MoPac,” adding that her constituents want priority to be placed on improvements to the Y at Oak Hill, “at a time when there is very little funding for transportation.”
“I think that’s really a smoke-and-mirror argument,” Conley said. He, along with other supporters of SH45, said Hays County drivers are going to continue to use MoPac and that building SH45 “is just a way in which we can get them there faster and in a more safe manner.”
Ford and Sumter aren’t the only elected officials to voice opposition to the highway in recent weeks. On May 11, Travis County Commissioners voted 3-1 to ask that SH45 be removed from the CAMPO plan.
The debate has become something of a back-and-forth. Supporters of the project claim that building the highway will alleviate congestion even as opponents claim that building it will add to congestion and harm the environment.
“The need to have some relief of some of the bottleneck areas on MoPac I hope would take precedence over constructing southwest forty-five,” Ford said. “There’s plenty of traffic right now on MoPac and it backs up all the way past William Cannon (Drive) in the mornings, and to be funneling a lot more traffic from Hays County and the towns on the border of our two counties would exacerbate a problem that’s already there.”
“I think it’s a misrepresentation of fact, and not a very sound argument, to say that by not building southwest forty-five you’re going to improve or maintain the current levels of traffic on MoPac,” Conley said.
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