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

March 18th, 2009
County bids for stimulus through CAMPO

Hays County commissioners hope to complete an Interstate-35 overpass in Buda with federal stimulus money through the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization (CAMPO). Above, a temporary road is shown alongside four unbuilt lanes of Buda’s cement truck bypass, which are on hold until the overpass can be completed. Below is shown the general plan. Photos by Sean Butera.

By SEAN BATURA
News Reporter

As the federal government parcels out stimulus money through various agencies and state governments, Hays County commissioners staked out a place in line this week.

Hays County Precinct 2 Commissioner Jeff Barton (D-Kyle) moved for the court to try and secure $7.3 million of $29 million available through the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization (CAMPO) to complete a long-awaited truck bypass overpass in Buda. The proposed overpass would connect Robert S. Light Street on the west side of Interstate-35 with Hillside Terrace on the east side.

The court voted Tuesday to direct county staff, in consultation with Precinct 3 Commissioner Will Conley (R-San Marcos) and Precinct 1 Commissioner Debbie Ingalsbe (D-San Marcos), to prepare second and third choice projects for submission to CAMPO. The second priority project will be safety improvements on SH 21, with the third being a similar project on Ranch Road 12.

However, the odds against receiving the money are long. CAMPO Executive Director Joe Cantalupo said this week that local governments with Hays, Travis and Williamson Counties have submitted 250 projects for assistance from the $29 million in stimulus money.

Before voting unanimously Tuesday to send the overpass project proposal to CAMPO, commissioners heard testimony from five men representing local government and economic interests, all of whom supported the proposed overpass, which the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) had agreed to build three years ago until it ran out of money for the project.

“The city has spent a lot of money on infrastructure in support of economic development in that priority growth area, the biggest of which was the $3.8 million we invested in the truck bypass on the assumption that TxDOT was going to build an overpass at the end of our bypass,” said Buda Councilmember Ron Fletcher. “But they left us holding the bag.”

Texas Lehigh Cement Company President Robert Kidnew told the commissioners that constructing the overpass and making the access roads one-way would result in significant fuel savings for his trucks, which now have to drive four miles further and idle at intersections before they can get to the interstate. Besides putting the company — the largest industrial taxpayer in the county — at “a competitive disadvantage,” Kidnew said safety issues are involved.

“I drive that (access) road, my family drives that road and our boys drive that road.” Kidnew said. “It needs to be one-way for safety.”

Though the truck bypass road, built in anticipation of the doomed TXDOT overpass, has routed heavy truck traffic out of downtown Buda, the temporary road connecting it to the access road is sustaining damage, as it was only supposed to last a few months until the overpass was completed. Unless the overpass is built, Barton said, the temporary section of the truck bypass will have to be repaired at considerable cost to the county.

“(The overpass) will help us see economic development on that intersection,” Barton said. ” … It will put people to work right away doing the design and construction of this overpass, and that will ripple out to help restaurants and suppliers and jobs.”

Barton said the overpass will also help decrease regional air pollution, an increasing problem, which, he said, is evidenced by the region’s close to failing marks under federal standards for regional air quality. A letter from Kidnew to the commissioners court said the overpass would cut truck emissions because the complete fleets for Texas Lehigh and Centex Materials would burn 90,000 gallons less diesel fuel per year. The cement trucks driving the bypass from those two companies number 390 per day.

Two-thirds of federal funds for local transportation infrastructure made available by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) to Texas have been allocated to the Texas Transportation Commission (TTC), with the rest going to metropolitan planning organizations (MPOs) by formula. Money given to MPOs is disbursed to projects at the discretion of MPO board members, while the TTC dispenses ARRA money directly to specific projects.

“I think our goal should be not to build a two-lane bridge but to try to get TXDOT to take maybe some of the money they’re getting from the stimulus package to put with the CAMPO $7 million to build that four-lane, with the access roads moved and the frontage roads one-way,” said County Judge Liz Sumter. “That truly is the project that will do everything that we want it to do. The two-lane, yes, will relieve some truck traffic, but it doesn’t achieve what we really need to achieve with it.”

Sumter said there would probably be stiff competition for funds coming from the other local governments within the three-county CAMPO region, though small municipalities usually do not have the resources to go through the expensive and lengthy environmental review process necessary to getting federal funds.

“When you look at the CAMPO board, Hays County has three votes,” Sumter said. “So we’re not in a good position in terms of votes. What we have to make sure of is that our projects meet all the rules that are being put forward, and have some regional significance so that Austin or Williamson County can see the value of having that done, how that might impact them, too.”

Hays County may not have that much trouble getting the Buda overpass built if projects from other local government entities are lacking. Travis County Judge Sam Biscoe said his county will probably not submit any project proposals to CAMPO because the first call for projects stipulated that the only projects considered would be those that could be ready for construction within 90 days and were not already funded.

“We don’t sit around with projects ready for construction in 90 days without the money,” Biscoe said. “We have to identify sources of funding before we design and acquire right-of-way. Those actions take about a year to 18 months. So when we’ve done that much work, we have the money.”

CAMPO’s second call for projects allowed for the consideration of projects that could be “shovel-ready” within a year, making possible more submissions. However, Hays County Director of the Resource Protection, Transportation and Planning Jerry Borcherding said the new call for projects only came to his desk early last week. Biscoe said the reminder e-mail for the submission deadline went out Tuesday morning, but he was in commissioners court all day long and so could not work with staff to get a last minute proposal ready.

After the March 19 deadline for submission of project proposals to CAMPO, the public comment period on the projects will be open from 5:00 p.m. on April 6 to 5:00 p.m., May 13, with a public hearing scheduled for May 11. CAMPO will also hold four community meetings in which it will solicit public comments on the projects before its board members cast their votes.

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0 thoughts on “County bids for stimulus through CAMPO

  1. I thought it was a mean spirited joke when I over heard @ my favorite coffee shop (JO ON the GO) that Jeff Barton was a village idiot and now I’m not so sure it was a joke.

  2. It wasn’t a joke.

    Think about these Barton quotes.

    “(The overpass) will help us see economic development on that intersection,” Barton said. ”It will put people to work right away doing the design and construction of this overpass, and that will ripple out to help restaurants and suppliers and jobs.” What a simple minded statement. How dumb does Barton think we are?

    Clearly, Barton is out of touch with the underlying problem in our financial markets and to suggest that a highway overpass will generate economic development at an intersection, when financing for economic development investment is at a stand still because of under capitalized lending institutions (read toxic assets), shows just how little he understand about economic development. Or maybe Barton just thinks he can fool the public with his nonsense.

    Lets spend our way out of the credit crisis by creating more debt and building overpasses all along I35 to create economic development at each intersection.

    It gets worse.

    To sell his expensive taxpayer projects that will benefit many of his property holdings in the Kyle/Buda area, Barton also argues the overpass will help decrease regional air pollution! Well, at least he didn’t claim it would stem global warming.

    Barton is a spend and tax official who believes throwing taxpayer money at public projects to reward his special interest supporters will keep those election campaign donations coming as he gears up for the 2010 election.

    Voters removed Barton from office in 1997. They will have another chance in 2010. With less wasteful spending like this our taxes might actually go down.

  3. A public admission.

    “A letter from Kidnew to the commissioners court said the overpass would cut truck emissions because the complete fleets for Texas Lehigh and Centex Materials would burn 90,000 gallons less diesel fuel per year. The cement trucks driving the bypass from those two companies number 390 per day.”

    “Unless the overpass is built, Barton said, the temporary section of the truck bypass will have to be repaired at considerable cost to the county.”

    If road damage can be attributed to a specific source, then that source can be charged for cost of road repairs. But don’t count on Commissioner Barton to look out for the taxpayers.

  4. MR. O’Dell, your comments here lead me to believe that you do NOT support the Economic Stimulus plan of our President. That seems to be at the core of your first ramble. Commissioner Barton may be skinny, but he has broad shoulders and can locally support the programs and philosophy of our President, even if you can’t. (a “spend and tax official”? have you resorted to listening to Rush these days now that Rove and Palin are gone from the scene???? I would have thought that someone like yourself could be more “original.”)

    Regarding your second statement, I guess you are not aware that these trucks used to take a much longer route and this bypass has cut the number of miles. Yet, because there is not direct linkage to I-35, they still ramble along the access road for miles to the next overpass. Saving gas – it’s kind of like keeping a bucket in your shower to save water for use elsewhere. Every drop counts!

  5. Lila darling,

    Recycling my shower rainwater is something responsible each individual can do.

    Creating more taxpayer debt (read higher taxes) for pet projects that make a few special interests richer is NOT something any rational taxpayer should support.

    We’ve had enough of Bush/Barton “trickle down economics.” It only works for the well to do special interests.

  6. Hi Mr. Odell,

    I think you should answer the question, “do you have a pool?” If so, how do you reconcile the obvious disconnect between preaching about water conservation and your own wasteful consumption? Just curious.

  7. There you go again Chucky – making spurious charges about Barton. He doesn’t own any land along that road and you know it. But then, you have to come up with some nonsense to try and make people hate Barton.

    And why is it that everything YOU don’t like boils down to a pet project for special interests. When you (and Hays CAN) defend environmental causes, wouldn’t you categorize yourself as a “special interest” group? It’s not necessarily a bad thing now, is it? Without special interest groups, a lot of good work would go unaccomplished. Please stop dealing in such generalities. And stop demonizing people you don’t even know.

    I don’t shower with a bucket – yet. But I do have one of the brownest yards around.
    And I don’t swim.

  8. “The hypocrite’s crime is that he bears false witness against himself. What makes it so plausible to assume that hypocrisy is the vice of vices is that integrity can indeed exist under the cover of all vices except this one. Only crime and the criminal, it is true, confront us with the perplexity of radical evil; but only the hypocrite is really rotten to the core.”
    – Hannah Arendt

  9. I see the resident Troll has been here all weekend pleasuring himself squirting his hate and venemous lies all over our computer screens. It feels like I need to take rubber gloves, strong disinfectant and a roll of paper towels to clean off my monitor. a thousand lies told a thousand times still is not the truth. Remember that a vote for Sumpter or Ford is a vote for C ” gobbels” O”Dell by the way did I mention that the county lost their lawsuit aginst Ramus and the 3 to 400,000 + that they threw away would have bought some nice park land or endangered species preserves

  10. Barton carrying on OBUMA’s fiscal legacy? Lets see, one state governor told the Whitehouse that he would use the stimulus money to pay down his state’s debt and was told NO WAY JOSE!!! I did a research poll of locals after hearing that joke about Barton being a village idiot and the results were 89% agree his is a village idiot with 7% voting no and 4% never heard of him.

  11. I’m not sure a poll BY the Village Idiot carries much credibility. Let’s see, we don’t know who you are, don’t know where your so-called poll was conducted or how many were in it, you even bothered to conduct a poll on a “joke” in the first place, and you can’t spell the President’s name correctly. If I were Barton, I wouldn’t take your results too seriously…

  12. Andy,

    You seem to ignore the fact that it was your non-compliant septic design for Ramus that is a core problem. A commercial septic system that requires 24 acres and you designed it for a two acre residential lot with Class IV soils?

    Doesn’t that put your state license in jeopardy?

    Of course the system isn’t working now and never has worked. So much for your design.

    I don’t know how good a “cave biologist” you are, but you sure as heck don’t know how to design OSSFs…or if you do know how, you violate OSSF rules…with a node from Tom Pope at the Environmental Health Department.

  13. David Rodriguez is my name and the president’s real name is Barry Soetoro aka OB”U”MA! Lila Knight, if that is your REAL name, if I had polled you about the village idiot aka Jeffy Barton, I’m sure my poll would of ended right then and there cause I would of realized that I’d met the QUEEN of VILLAGE IDIOTS!

  14. uh huh, good banter, folks. Way to be adults. Charles, I fully agree that the “stimulus” (read: depression juice) is not what we want trickling into our county or anyone’s for that matter. However your way of constantly picking, hacking and dumping on Barton instead of making simple arguments add up puts a whole new spin on Ph.D.

  15. Charles, David, Lila…. why not move to Austin? you all would fit in great—their slogan: keep austin weird…
    Hope you all realize how stupid you look to most citizens with your childish comments. Great example for the kids!

  16. Andrew, you are right. “If you can’t say something nice don’t say anything at all!”
    Thanks for the reminder and I pledge to never say another disparaging word on these threads.

  17. Andrews: Charles already lives in Austin, or at least he has an Austin address and he’s already more than weird. He’s just a little crazy. He ought to do try outs for sing a long with Willie Nelson next time he sings, “I’m Crazy” And for Lila, somebody’s with a straight mind gots to stand up to the old scumdog.

  18. You kids need to spend more time studying for your TSU courses. Way too immature to discuss real life issues and way too uninformed to be taken seriously.

    When you have graduated, held a full time job, raised a family, served your country, run a business, studied the issues and voted in ten consecutive elections your posts will have some relevant and meaningful content.

    You don’t understand the issues being discussed on this thread, and you don’t know the players. Your posts clearly reveal this.

  19. Speaking of not knowing the players, why don’t you disclose the people who contribute to HaysCAN? I went to your website and you wrote this in response to a letter from Jeff Barton, who asked the same question.

    “The only interest group to which I belong is HaysCAN, a public interest non-profit organization. Trust me, many citizens contribute to HaysCAN, and I know what would happen to them if I released their names. No chance, and we’re protected by the Constitution.”

    What is going to happen to them O’Dell? Are the black helicopters going to come and take them away because they contribute to an organization that’s nothing more than a bad Benny Hill parody of a public interest group?

    In fact, I’m curious if there are any contributors at all.

    O’Dell, why are you afraid to engage in the kind of disclosure you demand from others?

    And not for nothing here, but your conditions on involvement are ridiculous and patently un-American. Those kids up at Texas State have forgotten more about ethical, honest, and active citizenship that you will probably ever learn.

    I look forward to hearing the mouse attempt to roar a response. I’ll be amazed if I get an actual answer though. For an open government advocate this guy sure keeps a lot of secrets.

  20. MR. O’Dell – Get off your high horse. Just when did there suddenly become “requirements” for having an opinion on an issue? And who are YOU to decide what those requirements are. Students at TSU, or any other university for that matter (or even young people who are not in attendance at a college) have just as much right to state their opinions on any subject as you do. I believe that many of them are actually more mature, more informed, and more articulate on a myriad of subjects than you or your minions. Your every post is evidence of this.

    We are all sick and tired of your waving around your advanced degree. It only advertises your profound ignorance. Folks, you might want to know the title of his dissertation: “A Simulation of Long-Run Adjustment Patterns in Capital Formation in the Grain Handling and Storage Industry, 1968-1975.” Yep. The little troll got his degree in agribusiness. Makes you wonder what sort of contributions he made to the demise of the family farm in the Midwest. If I recall correctly, today only about four mega-corporations control the grain business in the U.S. These are the guys who have developed the “terminator” gene – a seed that will produce only one crop. and then becomes sterile. Great idea!

    Ask O’Dell about who he worked under at the USDA next time you bump into him.

    We should pity the man. He’s not intelligent. He’s not a leader. He can’t win an election. He’s not even a good activist. He’s not the man he thinks he is. He’s just a mean, old, bitter shell. How sad.

  21. ya’ll knock it off!
    here’s a topic: The University is going to tear down housing to provide more parking for the football stadium.
    discuss.

  22. Lila darling,

    “O’Dell, why are you afraid to engage in the kind of disclosure you demand from others?”

    U.S. Supreme Court
    NAACP v. Patterson, 357 U.S. 449 (1958)

    Immunity from state scrutiny of petitioner’s membership lists is here so related to the right of petitioner’s members to pursue their lawful private interests privately and to associate freely with others in doing so as to come within the protection of the Fourteenth Amendment.

    The Fourteenth Amendment doesn’t include protection of elected official’s special interests.

    Can you imagine how your dear Commissioners Barton, Conley and their bunch of jackals would use the force of their office and public funds to retaliate against our citizen members who oppose the bad public behavior of these Good Ole Boys!

    For example, Commissioner Conley illegally sued an elderly couple simply because they asked him to leave their property. The elderly couple live in precinct 1…Conley is commissioner of precinct 3!

    Commissioner Barton refused to surrender the phone records of a cell phone that he regularly uses to conduct official business. What do you suppose Barton has to hide from the public about his conduct of official business? Might those public records connect him closer to his special interests?

    So please don’t take a high and mighty position about nondisclosure when your Barton refuses to disclose public records as called for under the Public Information Act (open records).

    These public officials are no better than the PEC board members who scammed PEC members for their own self interests.

    Just look at how you rant and rave against anyone who exposes bad behavior of public officials, especially your beloved Commissioner Barton.

    The Barton family uses their Free Press newspaper for political propaganda, and now they have you and others working this and other online sites they DON’T control, trying to discredit anyone who criticizes Commissioner Barton’s public behavior.

    Your efforts won’t work because even the most casual reader can differentiate between comments with substance and those like yours that attempt to divert the conversation from issues to character assassination of dissidents.

    Our organization will continue to do its job of exposing official bad behavior…and we won’t put our citizen members at risk by revealing their names.

  23. Hi Chris,

    That’s another thread on this site.

    This thread is about County bids for stimulus through CAMPO, and Barton is a Hays County representative member of CAMPO.

    Hello special interest roads.

  24. Not Lila, O’Dell. Not Ramus either. And I don’t even know Barton personally, nor do I have an emotional investment in his political well being.

    I’ll give you a pass on your group, but what about you personally? Why not hold at least yourself to a higher standard? Surely you can talk about a campaign bill? In fact you admitted on your website that you, “…did pay a campaign bill that I knew might not be reimbursed. It hasn’t been yet.”

    That’s just you, right? If you broke no laws, and you’re sure you did everything correctly, disclose the amount of the bill and who it as given to.

    Who was Barton talking about in his letter? Whose bill did you pay off and how much was it? Are they still in office, and, if so, are you protecting one of your favorites?

    Please make an effort to answer O’Dell.

  25. Duh,

    If I had broken or even dented any election law you can be sure that Barton would have been all over me. Instead, he wrote as if something sinister and/or illegal occurred. It didn’t.

    Bill Wyatt was an Independent write-in candidate for Hays County Pct 1 Commissioner in the 2006 election. I and others supported his campaign because of the long standing mess with Commissioner Ingalsbe.

    Go to the Hays County government online site, election office, office holder/candidate financial reports and look at Wyatt’s financial reports. That way you get the facts from the source. Then come back and post what you found.

    Fair enough? No matter what I post, Lila darling and her crowd will twist it, so you go straight to the public records, as our organization does when investigating a matter.

  26. As YOUR organization investigates? Like in the Gerardo and Florinda Martinez case? When you testified at Commissioners Court against their request for a variance for a septic and showed the WRONG photograph of their residence with the WRONG address? Nice investigative work Charles.

    Your so-called investigations are nothing more than witch-hunts. You hate Barton because he beat out your sweetheart, Susie Carter, years ago. She was the Republican candidate as I recall. I’m not sure why you hate Conley. Maybe it’s because he stands up to you. It certainly isn’t because he’s a Republican. (You did work for the USDA under a Republican administration, didn’t you?).

    For those of you tuning in – Charles has “stolen” the Lila Darling moniker from some blogging that went on between Peter Stern and I over a year ago. I affectionately referred to him as Peter Darling and he returned the favor. Charles seems to think it gets under my skin. I kind of like it… Makes me feel special. Would be nice though if Charles could think up something original now and then instead of re-hashing worn phrases from Rush, Rove and Palin.

  27. I thought I had grown beyond mere personified pettiness but somehow the rants spewing out of Knights dribble has brought out that pettiness in me and my only recommendation to Knight is to go on the Jerry Springer show. Why can’t we have civil discourse between neighbors?

  28. Lila darling,

    You are a trip!

    “Like in the Gerardo and Florinda Martinez case?”

    If we were so wrong Lila darling, why was the agenda item voted down? Readers can watch the online video and judge for themselves. (January 29, 2008 at about 3hrs 16 minutes…slide the view bar to that time.) It shows how Pct 1 Commissioner Barton tried to slip past commissioners’ court a septic and platting variance for an illegal lot located in Pct.2. It was a shameful display of Barton’s disregard for laws that protect public and property owner interests.

    Let’s see. I recruited and supported a candidate who ran for county commissioner as a Democrat and won. I supported a Republican incumbent commissioner who lost to Barton. I supported an Independent who lost. I exposed Barton, a Democrat, and Conley, a Republican, and worked as a career economist (not an appointed position) when Nixon was President, and I consider Rove, Rush and Palin as negatives.

    So what political stripe am I Lila darling?

    You can’t discuss the issues so you try to distract with nonsense posts.

    You are a trip!

  29. I used to like this website. However, it seems as if Mr. Odell has hijacked the site for his own pettiness and pet peeves. I truly wish someone would limit the number of posts this nut can make. I am guessing that he has posted over 60 times in the last week. Probably a bipolar binge!

  30. Mr. odell. It doesnt’ matter what party someone is in for you to support them, as long as they follow your unethical creed. it looks to me on that video that you were successful in creating doubt and confusion by infusing your lies, conspiracies, and false photos. If this is your idea of fame and success, you need help.

  31. Agree! Freedom of speech is great and sacred, but abuse by Odell’s lunatic rantings has gone too far… Just give him his own column buried deep in the website so we can all ignore him! Hijacking is not free speech.

  32. Duh,

    What did I say would happen!

    The jackals would jump on whatever I posted, even if I directed folks to public records they can read, view and decide for themselves what is factual.

    Now I have an unethical creed.

    Wow! What venom.

  33. You are prophetic Mr. O’dell. You can see that the muck you reap comes back to you. You really have insight.

  34. Folks our cow died last spring so we don’t need your bull s…!
    Look out the next plunge is the credit card bubble!

  35. O’Dell, I don’t think its what’s being said. It’s who’s saying it. I don’t think you realize just how much of your foot you’ve shot off here.

    Your bombast is self defeating, and you cloak yourself in unmerited righteousness. Good deeds don’t make up for a lousy disposition. Did it ever occur to you, even once, that this is the internet? Nobody ever wins an internet argument. After a certain point it’s all so much strutting and preening, isn’t it?

    This just keeps going on and on and on. There’s other news on this site. Other stuff is going on. Yet THIS is the great debate?

    At this point “I’m rubber and you’re glue” seems to be the logical conclusion, because this can’t possibly get any lower. You’re 50% to blame for that, because, once again, you keep coming back for more.

    I honestly think you get a kick out of it.

    The rest of us can do our part by simply moving on. Show’s over. Bring down the curtain. Nothing left to see. It’s all been said, etc, etc, etc…

    Unless, of course, a stupid-off is what the people really want.

  36. Peter Darling, I really am trying to stick to our agreement. Truly I am. Haven’t you noticed? But you really need to talk to Charles about this one. He’s bullying in on us.

  37. Charles,
    Who is this dem commissioner you “recruited and supported” and was elected? I suppose that is Ms. Ford. I had thought highly of her until just now. I doubt this revelation will help her reelection bid.

  38. Lila, my last name is not “Darling” and I am steering clear of this nonsense. I AM upholding our agreement.

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