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Hays County plans $1 million study to examine FM 150 realignment

Wednesday, April 16, 2014 by Andy Sevilla

As Hays County’s population continues to grow, officials are scrambling for needed infrastructure and improvements aimed at addressing the projected influx of new residents.

Hays County Commissioners previously approved $1.1 million in funding for the realignment study of FM 150. The county’s 2013 Transportation Plan indicates there is a need for increased capacity through a realignment of the roadway around Kyle, said project spokeswoman Arin Gray.

“The purpose of this study is to examine the possible ways this (capacity) need can be addressed, including doing nothing, expanding existing FM 150 through Kyle, and several alternative new alignments,” Gray said in an email.

Officials expect the study will yield the most effective solution for FM 150 and that the associated preliminary engineering and environmental clearances will be done so that the project can move forward with full design and implementation.

Initial project indications project the roadway’s realignment through Yarrington Road, connecting I-35 west to Arroyo Ranch, setting the stage for a Kyle loop. On the east, FM 150 could then either connect to, or provide easy access to, the future FM 110 – the San Marcos loop.

At an April 8 public input meeting, residents pushed forward a potential northern Kyle realignment, one that would connect to Kohler’s Crossing, a major roadway traversing the city’s commercial hub, Joe Cantalupo, project manager said, adding that all options are on the table.

An alignment going through Yarrington Road could help attract commercial interests to the largely undeveloped southern stretch of Kyle, as through-traffic would be diverted to that portion of the city, officials said.

Homeowners along Old Stagecoach Road, however, worry their properties will be affected by a potential FM 150 realignment through their connector to I-35, and environmental concerns also are high on the radar, Gray said. A southern Kyle alignment could also affect a more than 2,000-acre tract of property owned by the Texas General Land Office, which is planning a massive public/private residential development on that land.

Gray said the land office has been informed of the proposed project and invited to participate in the planning, but state agency representatives have not yet met with project officials.

Detractors of the realignment also have voiced concern with the existing FM 150 being taken off the state system, thus the roadway could be turned over to cash-strapped Kyle for maintenance.

Gray said that while that is the expectation, that decision has not been made and isn’t expected until the fall.

Hays County’s population – among the top 10 fastest growing counties in the U.S. – is expected to top 600,000 by 2040, according to state demographers that used post-2000 decade growth trends in the county.

The U.S. Census Bureau reported the county’s population at 157,000 in 2010.

A second related project would connect FM 150 at Arroyo Ranch to Dripping Springs. Hays County is developing a study to address capacity and safety along FM 150 from the Arroyo Ranch area northwest to Ranch Road 12 in Dripping Springs. Once in Dripping Springs, officials said there is an opportunity to connect FM 150 to U.S. 290.

Officials said a public comment period on the proposed FM 150 realignment in Kyle will close April 21. Interested residents can submit written comment to the project team at P.O. Box 5459, Austin, Texas, 78763.

Of the 91 residents that made it to the April 8 public meeting, those that made verbal comments or left a written comment will have their input included in the official record.

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