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

October 1st, 2008
Hays County channel: Road bond support group announces campaign

From Hays Families for Safe Mobility

KYLE – A coalition of Hays County residents organized in support of a major road bond proposal on the Nov. 4 ballot said Monday that the bonds will provide much-needed safety and mobility improvements to roadways throughout the county.

The group, Hays Families for Safe Mobility, announced its campaign for the $207 million proposed bond issue at a news conference Monday afternoon at an intersection along Interstate 35 between Kyle and Buda. Traffic seizes up dangerously during morning and afternoon hours at the intersection, which is one of those to be improved if voters say “yes” to the bonds.

“I’m concerned for the safety of my family whenever we drive on FM 1626. I’m grateful that I don’t have to brave rush-hour every day because even driving in the off-hours with my two young daughters, we’ve seen way too many accidents and close calls,” said Hays County mother Melissa Frensley.

Buda Fire Department Chief Clay Huckaby added that proposed improvements will reduce response times and allow safer access for emergency vehicles at overcrowded intersections along roadways, including the one that served as a site for the news conference Monday afternoon.

“The proposed improvements certainly will make our roads safer, but they also should help reduce congestion in our fast-growing county,” said Chuck Nash, a San Marcos business leader who is co-chair of the bond support group.

Other co-chairs of the citizen committee include Whit Hanks of Dripping Springs, Amy Ledbetter Parham of Kyle, Mike Moeller of Wimberley and Brad Hagen of Buda.

Speaking for proposed bond improvements in western Hays County, Hanks called the bonds “critical to safety on (U.S) Highway 290 and elsewhere in the Dripping Springs area.” He said the package includes creation of a center turn lane on an extended section of busy U.S. Highway 290 through Dripping Springs.

The bonds would provide improvements in all four Hays precincts. They were placed onto the Nov. 4 general election ballot by a unanimous vote of the Hays Commissioners Court in late August.

Of the total bonds, nearly $133 million could eventually be re-paid to Hays County by the State of Texas, which has agreed to “pass-through financing” for many of the proposed improvements. On that portion of the bonds, the state will repay the county up to 80 percent of the original cost based on actual utilization of the improved roadways over time.

“People in all areas of Hays County understand that we are in the path of growth down Interstate-35 and out Highway 290, and Ranch Road 12 is already the most dangerous road in the county. We cannot ignore the need to make critical safety improvements for our expanding population. This bond package is the absolute minimum we must do,” said Moeller, the committee co-chair from Wimberley.

The bond program was developed through a comprehensive citizen review by a Bond Advisory Committee appointed early last summer by the Hays Commissioners Court and chaired by Nash.

“This is a carefully scrubbed, affordable program,” said Parham, who serves as treasurer of Hays Families for Safe Mobility as well as co-chair for Kyle. “It includes projects in all precincts of the county and was unanimously supported by all five members of the commissioners court.”

Added Hagen, the Buda co-chair, “It’s also very attractive that we will see local participation by San Marcos and Kyle to offset the county’s costs. Of course, the largest part of the program will be reimbursed by the state over time.”

If approved, the bond debt will be serviced through a modest tax increase averaging $6 a month for the owner of a house valued at $200,000 on the Hays Appraisal District tax rolls.

“While a tax increase is never desirable, we must meet the growing safety and mobility needs of our county. This increase is affordable to achieve the level of security provided by safe, more effective roadways that also provide improved mobility,” concluded Moeller.

More information on the bond package is available from the Hays Families for Safe Mobility website at www.SaferHaysCounty.org.

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6 thoughts on “Hays County channel: Road bond support group announces campaign

  1. The citizens of Hays County do not need to approve a $207 Million bond package they cannot afford. While I understand there are unsafe and inadequate roads, throwing money at the problem is not the answer. There is an EXTREME ABUNDANCE of waste and mismanagement at the Road Department. If that were known, it would be investigated and addressed. People, $207 Million is a large sum of money, and that money would be better served in other areas of need. Let’s clean up the the waste and the mismanagement in the road department, before we award it with more money that they can squander!!

  2. The sad fact is good roads cost big money. Roads have become more sophisticated and safer. The breakaway signs, energy absorbing guard rails and longer radius turns are now the requirement. But we need these road projects. We live in an extremely fast growing county and hiding our heads in the sand just won’t work. Furthermore, TxDot is not going to wait patiently forever as we waffle back and forth on the issue of pass-through financing. We have a chance to wrangle $133 million from their limited budget and we should jump on it. Please think about the congestion you see around you every time you drive and vote yes on the road bond.

  3. How odd that “Concerned Citizen” can’t afford $6.00 a month for improved roads – that would be 20 cents a day. They obviously don’t spend much time driving a two-way access road along IH-35. It’s really frightening meeting another car that is unaware that our backward county still has two-way roads. Or idling at long lights at overpasses where gas is wasted. I can afford the cost – because I will save over $6 in gas alone!

    Have you ever noticed when people hint about corruption in our government – they always sign their posts anonymously? Geez. Last time it was our commissioners that were corrupt. This time round, it is going to be the road department itself. I’m getting kind of tired of this….

  4. Actually, it is VERY hard to get a real handle on what is going on sometimes and while I have not hinted at corruption, I can see where people would begin to wonder.

    Just trying to get a clear and consistent answer about what bike improvements have been funded and whether or not there is money available (and how much) for improvements we identify as we go (like putting in signage in key locations, or putting in a short (100′) bike/ped path to connect two streets, where people have already worn a path), has been nearly impossible.

    That being said, these roads NEED to be built/improved. There are safety issues addressed by many of these projects and there are tons of bike/pred improvements, to say nothing of the improvements to traffic flow from getting some of these roads built up to handle the level of traffic they already carry.

    In this case, the various city and county officials have been VERY careful to make sure it is VERY easy to find out what is going to be done with the money and there were several workshops, in several locations around the county, where citizens participated in the review and prioritization of these projects. This is the most carefully thought out road package that I can remember seeing in the nearly 20 years that I have been here.

    This, in addition to the fact that this is likely the last opportunity to get the $133 million reimbursed by TxDOT, is why we need to vote yes on this bond.

  5. Glad to hear it. It is much more believable since I figured out that I had you confused with someone else earlier.

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