San Marcos Mercury | Local News from San Marcos and Hays County, Texas
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September 15th, 2008
“We need better roads”

“If we don’t build the roads, the growth will go elsewhere,” “Roads are too expensive,” “There are too many people here already, I don’t want anyone else to move here.” Sound familiar? These are quotes heard often in Austin in the 70’s – by well meaning people who moved to this area because they liked the quality of life, and would have preferred that the door to opportunity and happiness shut right behind them.

Fast forward, circa 2008. Austin’s roadways are congested. People (and businesses) are still moving to Austin. And now they are dealing with – in 2008 dollars, a situation that would have been better addressed when the need was first realized, in the 1970’s. Austin is bottlenecked and congested. Getting from north to south is a nightmare. The same folks that thought not building roadways would keep everyone else out now realize it didn’t work. And the only way the city can afford to build safer roadways for its citizens is via toll roads. The “pay-as-you-go” plan.

Now, please turn your eyes to Hays County, the third fastest growing county in Texas. Every day, we drive down increasingly congested and unsafe roadways. And every day, we hear those same voices telling us that we don’t need more roads in Hays County, that too many people live here already. It feels like Austin all over again.

Not that feeling like Austin is a bad thing. We, too, have all the wonderful amenities of the Texas Hill Country that make our area desirable and where businesses and families want to locate. We, too, care deeply about our precious natural resources, the environment that we cherish and the quality of life that we hold dear. But we have one big advantage to Austin, circa the 1970’s. We don’t have our head in the sand. We know that population growth has occurred and will continue to occur. And we are smart enough to realize that we are better off planning for the future than hiding from it. We have learned from Austin’s mistakes and are taking the necessary steps, with citizen input, to build the roads necessary to safely move traffic in our county, now and for years to come.

It has been said that those who do not learn from the mistakes of the past are doomed to repeat them. It has also been said that the definition of stupidity is doing the same thing twice and expecting a different outcome. Our county is smarter than that. But it’s up to us to exercise our right to vote and make intelligent choices for our future. VOTE YES for the Hays County Road Bond Package on November 4. The San Marcos Chamber of Commerce supports the Hays County Road Bond Package. We ask you to urge your friends, families and colleagues to do the same. If not, you might as well start stocking up on quarters because the toll roads we would need in the future will be far more expensive than the road bond package we have the opportunity to pass today.

By PHYLLIS SNODGRASS
President – San Marcos Chamber of Commerce

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0 thoughts on ““We need better roads”

  1. Phyllis, I agree with you, however the time to build most of those roads was about 9 years ago when we still had the opportunity for growth. The argument “build now or growth will pass us by” has already come and gone. We missed our opportunity to be a forward-thinking community with the growth that happened during the last decade. We turned our heads, coughed, and had our royal butts kicked by the likes of oh, say every community around us. We’ve not effectively competed for anything, except dope, students, misinformation, and stupidity. All of which we have lots of now. I applaud your effort, but I doubt seriously Hays County will move in any forward direction until the more liberal thinkers of our community basket themselves up and move to Galveston before the next major hurricane. If they did that, we could honestly say we cleaned house and that we’re ready for a productive future.

  2. I agree, these roads need to be built. The Transportation Advisory Board worked until nearly midnight, with the help of some of our great city staff, to evaluate just about every road project on the horizon and identify three key projects, which will help mobility into and out of the city, as well as within the city.

    These improvements include much needed bike/pedestrian improvements and address some serious safety issues with low-water crossings on congested streets.

    Having participated in one of the county workshops to gather citizen input on projects proposed from all corners of the county, I can say that considerable thought was put into the improvements outside of San Marcos as well.

    It is great to see all of the cities and towns getting together with the county and working together on a road bond that will benefit everyone, and one that will be largely reimbursed by the state (likely our last opportunity to take advantage of that funding).

    Phyllis is correct when she comments that people tried to keep the growth out of Austin and people are now trying to keep the growth out of San Marcos. The problem is that now, nodody wins.

    The people who want growth and the people who don’t want growth all lose, because the good growth stays out, but we still get more than our fair share of low-paying jobs, big box stores and apartment complexes. All the while, getting from one side of town to the other resembles Austin more and more every year.

    So, I will reiterate what Phyllis has said. Please, VOTE YES for the Hays County Road Bond Package on November 4.

  3. Yes, the growth is coming regardless of what we do. We can, however, steer the growth where we prefer it to go. Back in 1996 the city adopted the “Horizons City Master Plan” which found that the south east quadrant of the city is the preferred growth area. It also states that the city shall work diligently toward the construction of Loop 110, focusing first on the eastern half of the loop. The north point intersection of the loop with I-35 has been established at Yarrington Rd and the south intersection is at McCarty. Construction of the loop would lighten traffic at the Hwy 80 & Hwy 123 intersections with I-35. It would also encourage the inevitable development to occur on the east side, away from the Edwards Aquifer. The majority of the east half of the loop travels outside the city limits justifying the county’s participation in this project. A probable consequence of not building the loop is a continuation of the current development pattern up and down I-35. Construction of the loop will depend on the support of the county commissioners. This is the loop that will make the location of the new high school seem logical rather than somewhat arbitrarily out in the country. There are many transportation projects that deserve our attention some within the city and some in the county. We have a decent city council we can count on to listen to the advice of the Transportation Advisory Board. In San Marcos we also need county commissioners who will understand and consider the transportation needs of San Marcos and the I-35 corridor.

  4. Yes, we need roads and yes, we are growing in Hays County.

    The road bond proposition is far too costly and at a time when homeowners already are paying too much in property taxes.

    We need to make improvements that are more cost-effective than this road bond proposition and we need to do it soon.

    JJ

  5. With $133 million eligible for reimbursement from TxDOT, I’m not sure that a more cost-effective option will ever come along.

    Other counties are chomping at the bit, to get a shot at that money. We should not just stand by and let them take it.

  6. I disagree, we SHOULD stand by and let someone else take that money. It’s too high a debt for Hays taxpayers to assume.

    We can simply make several repairs and modifications to our roadways that would be much less expensive, yet would make them safer.

    We don’t need to assume a huge bond debt of $207 MILLION to make developers and road builders profits.

    JJ

  7. I’d be very interested to see the proposal that would make those roads safer for less money, especially for less than $74 million, which is what the county will ultimately be on the hook for.

  8. Major growth in the Austin-San Antonio corridor is all but guaranteed to be massive during the next 10-15 years. Hays County needs to improve the transportation infrastructure or we will start having a lot more “stuck in traffic” time.

  9. Still awaiting the response of how homeowners are supposed to shoulder the more than $207 MILLION road bond proposition?

    Jeff Barton likes to push East [Hays County] against West, so if the Barton community wants the proposition so much then let that sector pay for it in higher taxes and leave the rest of Hays County alone.

    And what about that expensive road that goes nowhere in San Marcos, the one that Barton, Conley and Ramus want that goes past the Ramus property?

    There’s too much political power-playing going on here and it needs to stop.

    Road bond packages are about the only thing that certain unethical commissioners can dangle over the heads of special interests for their contributions.

    That’s not the politics we need here and certainly we don’t need a $207 MILLION road package here in Hill Country.

    We don’t need the higher debt and increased taxation!

  10. According to the Hays County website:

    “Under this agreement, the county provides up-front funding for project development and construction. The bond principal would be repaid using up to $133,170,000 in reimbursement funds to be provided by TxDOT.”

    http://www.co.hays.tx.us/LinkClick.aspx?fileticket=QHMa2I%2bihyY%3d&tabid=36&mid=408

    So, now you know. We would “shoulder” $74 million. That link also gives estimates of the monthly burden to taxpayers. I’m comfortable with my ability to handle $6 or $7 per month, but I certainly appreciate that these are difficult times and there may be some who are already overextended.

    STILL waiting for clarification of how we would achieve the same end, with less money.

  11. Also, as for the “expensive road that goes nowhere in San Marcos,” it *is* a Hays County road bond, not a San Marcos road bond. Isn’t it?

    Personally, I think the first person to mention Ramus or O’Dell immediately loses all credibility, as well as the current debate. Kind of like Hays County’s version of Godwin’s Law.

    en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Godwin’s_law

    Sorry, it looks like you lose.

  12. Lose? Not yet, dude. Wait until the day after election day. Then one of us can brag — that is, until the next election day when I’m certain there will be another road bond package.

  13. I’m voting YES for the road bond.

    at least on this blog, you lose the sample survey of voters Jim Jimenez.

  14. That’s what makes a “horse-race” Lila, but don’t discount the total residential voters on this issue. There still are many who don’t want it and obviously I’m one of them.

  15. Ted,

    “STILL waiting for clarification of how we would achieve the same end, with less money.”

    You entirely missed the point. Achieving spending public funds that only benefit the developers, and on roads that make them more dangerous is not an end responsible folks want…even if they were FREE!

    Your post is sooooo dated, and outdated by the events that were already pressing in on Hays County citizens when you posted, but you and others had you heads in the sand, or worse, had a special interest agenda for our roads.

    If high gasoline prices didn’t kill the unsustainable and destructive suburban sprawl model, then the credit meltdown and its accompanying economic depression that the Free Press was writing we were immune from surely will, meaning all the outrageous traffic projections are just that…outrageous.

    So now we will be stuck with years of new wasteful road construction while our existing roads fall in still greater disrepair.

    As for the high gasoline prices, don’t believe for a moment they are behind us. Falling property and sales tax revenues will provide sufficient incentives for our state legislators and Congress to increase gasoline taxes. There is no way to starve government so long as it can tax its citizens and not be accountable.

    Thanks for your political foresight and economic understanding. You and like thinking folks have given the special interests all they could hope for, and at a terrible price for average citizens.

  16. Looks like Charles has crawled back out from under his rock to torment the readers or Newstreamz and the residents of Hay County! I thought/hoped he was gone for good!

  17. Guess you were wrong Mr. Evil For-Profit.

    But then, so is Chucky. Apparently spending public funds on roads is EXACTLY what the public wants – as evidenced by the outcome of the election.

    And his reference to “starving government”? As well as his long diatribe on another blog about the evils of the “Good Old Boy” network. Very interesting choice of words. Charles appears to be following the playbook of none other than Sarah Palin.

    Apparently Charles hasn’t realized yet that people are just sick and tired of Rovian tactics. They just don’t play well anymore. Time to try something new Charles.

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