The Hays County commissioners court is nearing the bottom of the barrel in $47 million in road bond money approved by voters in 2001.
Pct. 1 Commissioner Debbie Gonzales Ingalsbe floated a proposal today to spend $1,746,714 to add lefthand turn lanes at three intersections on Texas 21. The project would be paid out of interest earnings on funds receive from the bond sales but not spent immediately.
Her plan would allocate funds via the Texas Department of Transportation for adding the safety improvements at County Road 127 (High Road), Farm-to-Market Road 2001 and Yarrington Road.
There was one problem: County Auditor Bill Herzog couldn’t say exactly how much of the money is left because there are some outstanding expenses already marked to come from the interest pool like a consultant being hired by a new bond committee.
And besides, other commissioners are expected to make their own pitches for ways to spend whatever remains from the original bond package. Pct. 3 Commissioner Will Conley is expected to ask for funds for safety improvements to Ranch Road 12 and Pct. 4 Commissioner Karen Ford said she’ll try to use some of the money to correct the alignment of Nutty Brown Road at U.S. 290.
Ingalsbe did not move for a vote on the expenditure but said she would do so at a future meeting.
Residents who live along Texas 21, including those in the tiny towns of Niederwald and Uhland, have clamored for some kind of expansion of the road for years. Four million to match a state contribution of the same size was part of a $155.8 million bond package rejected by voters in May 2007. The money would have added turn lanes at four of the most dangerous intersections including two with roads that feed traffic to nearby schools.
When the package failed, TxDOT applied their portion of the match to resurfacing Farm-to-Market Road 1826.
Texas 21 has seen growing traffic counts in the last decade as vehicles use it as an alternative to Interstate 35. And that volume is expected to increase precipitously with the opening earlier this spring of a segment of the Texas 130 toll road that dumps traffic on U.S. 183 in Mustang Ridge near its intersection with Texas 21.
— BRAD ROLLINS