San Marcos Mercury | Local News from San Marcos and Hays County, Texas

January 8th, 2008
Street life

STAFF REPORT

KYLE – If you’ve been to Center Street in the last week, you notice the difference.

The streetscaping project is mostly finished. The roadwork is done, the construction debris is cleaned up and traffic is about as smooth as can be expected. All that remains is a couple finishing touches. Within the next couple weeks, the city will install trees along the street and benches along the sidewalks.

The streetscape includes newly cut sidewalks, a new pavement of the roadway and crosswalks in-laid with red brick. A new traffic signal is up at the intersection of Center Street and Burleson Street. As of late Tuesday night, the light was just flashing, but it soon will control traffic. So, take note, the days of driving straight through that intercection are all but finished after close to a year.

Just as importantly, the construction inconvenience is gone and business on Center Street can proceed as normal.

“Hopefully, we won’t see another one of these for 50 years,” Kyle City Manager Tom Mattis said.

There are a couple down sides.

First, as Mattis put it, “When you do something brand new like that to make it look really pretty, now the side streets look really bad.”

No word on how, exactly, the city will address the side streets as of yet.

Second, the scene isn’t as attractive as it could be. The city managed to move some utilities underground, but not the telephone wires, so the street still has telephone polls and wires running along the side. The problem of persuading Verizon to bury telephone wires has stymied city officials for at least seven years, going back to earlier streetscape proposals.

Mattis put the price tag for burying the telephone wires at around $500,000. Councilmember Dan Ekakiadis asked Mattis if negotiations to bury the wires are on-going.

Said Mattis, “If you mean by negotiations, “Am I trying to come up with some leverage to make them take them down,” (the answer is) yes.”

Unlike other utilities, telephone companies aren’t required to secure franchise agreements with the cities in which they operate, Mattis said. Without such agreements, cities lack the basis for pushing such changes.

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