The first phase of widening FM 1626 in northern Hays and southern Travis counties will be underway within six weeks and cost 25 percent less than initial estimates, Hays County Pct. 2 Commissioner Mark Jones said today.
On Tuesday, the Hays County Commissioners court awarded a $17.2 million construction contract to Centennial, Colo.-based SEMA Construction Inc. will widening and straighten the major commuter artery between FM 967 in Buda and Brodie Lane in Austin. The work will add a traffic lane in each direction and a center turn lane.
When voters approved a $133 million bond package in 2008, the North FM 1626 improvements wee figured to cost about $23.4 million. Even more recent engineers’ estimates put the price tag at $20.2 million.
“The improvements will help mobility and safety for the many vehicles using that road traveling to schools, neighborhoods and businesses along the northern part of FM 1626. The county recognized more than 10 years ago the impact that growth in Hays County was having on roads and began the improvement plan even before we had money to build it,” Jones said.
The widening will make an easier commute for the tens of thousands of Buda and other Hays County residents who take FM 1626 to and from work in Austin everyday. But it won’t resolve the bottleneck where traffic turns onto Brodie Lane and heads to MoPac, Jones said.
“Constructing State Highway 45 SW to directly connect FM 1626 to Loop 1 is the only realistic resolution to that issue,” Jones said.
FM 1626 improvements will be a built with what TxDOT calls “Context Sensitive Design,” which, in this case, includes sidewalks along urbanized sections and on bridges, which will be stained earth-toned colors; water quality features near Little Bear creek; and wildflower seeding.
» For information, visit the county’s FM 1626 website here.