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CTRMA selects SH 45 SW builder

Thursday, July 28, 2016 by Caleb Pritchard

The Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority has found a partner to build its highly controversial State Highway 45 Southwest project. On Wednesday, the CTRMA board of directors voted unanimously to approve a $78.6 million contract with McCarthy Building Companies. McCarthy proffered the lowest of three bids that made it to the final round of consideration after the mobility authority went shopping for contractors last month. The roadway, which has been in the planning stages for decades, has long drawn rigid opposition over its potential environmental impact. Before Wednesday’s vote, Board Member David Armbrust noted renewed concerns over the potential disruption to an area inhabited by the endangered golden-cheeked warbler. “In order to be overly cautious, I would like to see us do another bird survey before construction of the road actually starts,” Armbrust said. The board accepted his recommendation into the motion for the contract’s approval. Afterward, CTRMA Director of Engineering Justin Word said that the bird survey would likely not delay the anticipated start of construction, which could happen as early as October. Travis County Commissioner Gerald Daugherty told the Austin Monitor after the vote that he “couldn’t be happier.” Daugherty has been an adamant supporter of the project and ran for office in 2012 on the pledge to get it built. “I’m appreciative of every hurdle it clears,” he said before adding, “I’ve never been in a race in my life where I’ve had more hurdles.” One of Daugherty’s colleagues on the Commissioners Court, however, declared that the toll road project will threaten both Barton Springs and Lady Bird Lake. “I think they are gambling with one of our greatest environmental treasures and one of the things of great beauty that sets us apart from so many other places,” Commissioner Brigid Shea told the Monitor. “And I think it’s just irresponsible.” Shea said that the best hope against stopping the project is a lawsuit that was filed earlier this year by environmental advocates, including the Save Our Springs Alliance.

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