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

January 27th, 2008
Road keeps winding

Editor at Large

SAN MARCOS – The Hays County commissioners once again discussed the direction of their transportation advisory board (TAB) last Tuesday and, once again, decided nothing.

Commissioners, particularly Will Conley (R-San Marcos) of Precinct 3 and Jeff Barton (D-Kyle) of Precinct 2, argued that the board has been unable to produce good information or advice for three basic reasons:

1. The court hasn’t delivered a specific charge to the committee and, indeed, hasn’t even been clear about whether or how the TAB should address the so-called “pass-through” roads, those being FM 1626, SH 110 and RR 12, which all are under consideration for delayed state funding; 2. The committee has been unable to develop good information, largely because the court hasn’t given the committee good information; and, 3. The TAB is operating without sufficient professional assistance to transform data into information.

“I just don’t see enough credible information that is useful,” Conley said. ” … There is a right way and a wrong way to do things, and I think we’re not doing this the right way.”

Said Barton, “We never asked clearly and concisely for the committee to produce a specific deliverable.”

Confusion overtook the commissioners two weeks ago after Judge Liz Sumter (D-Wimberley) arranged a meeting about pass-through roads between the TAB and a consultant, Jacobs Carter Burgess. Conley and Barton complained that not only have court actions required the TAB to work through Prime Strategies, but the TAB long ago kicked the pass-through roads back to the court.

TAB chairman Steve Klepfer (D-Wimberley), who is running against Conley for the Precinct 3 seat in November, told the court that the committee handed the pass-through roads back to the court last summer so commissioners could act quickly in case they wanted to hold a Nov. 2007 bond election. Subsequently, commissioners never seriously considered a Nov. 2007 election.

Barton agreed that it’s never been spelled out since then exactly how the TAB would address pass-through roads. However, Barton re-iterated, it remains that commissioners and county staff are negotiating directly with the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) on the pass-through agreement.

Sumter proposed that the county fix the problems in a future workshop, but Conley protested that a future workshop would further stall progress, adding, “I don’t think we need a ceremony to clean that up or a workshop to clean that up.”

Later, Sumter surprised Barton with news of a meeting between county officials and TxDOT the next day. Barton, one of the county officials involved with TxDOT meetings, told Sumter in court that he hadn’t been informed, as if to ask her why he hadn’t been informed. Hearing of such a meeting, Barton agreed that it might be wise to see what transpires with TxDOT before deciding more specifically how to charge the TAB.

However, this week’s court agenda contains no action or discussion items considering the pass-through agreement with TxDOT.

So, confusion and uncertainty persist about how state roads will be handled within Hays County. All the court really knows is that it can’t afford another debacle on the scale of the May 2007 road bond election.

“One thing we all agree on is that if we’re going to put a road bond forward, we need to put one together that will pass,” said Precinct 4 Commissioner Karen Ford (D-Dripping Springs). “Having two failed road bond elections back to back I don’t think is something any of us wants to face.”

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