by BRAD ROLLINS
State and county officials have agreed to expand efforts to improve traffic conditions along Interstate 35 in Hays County, projects that include reconstruction of an interchange and overpass at Posey Road as well as 13 access road ramps in Kyle and San Marcos.
As part of a larger deal struck in early 2013 with the Texas Department of Transportation, the Hays County Commissioners Court agreed to contribute about $1.5 million toward the estimated $16.5 million price tag of replacing the narrow, two-lane Posey Road bridge over the interstate. Also as part of the deal, the county agreed to pay $300,000 toward the estimated $1.3 million cost of redesigning and rebuilding interstate entrances and exits in northern San Marcos, between Yarrington Road and the Blanco River. (The ongoing $12.2 million reconstruction of the Interstate 35-Yarrington Road interchange was also funded through a combination of federal, state and local funds through a different arrangement.)
Now TxDOT administrators want to expand the scope of both Interstate 35 projects and have agreed to absorb the additional costs of doing so, transportation consultant Mike Weaver told the commissioners court last month. TxDOT has scheduled a public meeting on the proposed changes for Tuesday, Jan. 13.
The enlarged deal has not yet been formalized with amendments to an “advanced funding agreement” between the county and state, but Weaver said an updated contract is forthcoming. Following the Dec. 16 briefing from Weaver and other consultants, county officials took turns emphasizing the importance of infrastructure investment to accommodate Hays County’s burgeoning population.
“I don’t want to get caught with our bridges down and not have the transportation [infrastructure] necessary for the people that are here and those that are certainly coming,” County Judge Bert Cobb said.
Now expected to cost $19 million instead of the original $16.5 million, the Posey Road plan calls for a six-lane overpass with north- and southbound “Texas turnarounds,” said project manager Tommy G. Levario of Houston-based Dannenbaum Engineering. The bridge will span enough distance to allow the future addition of two traffic lanes to Interstate 35, Levario said, should such an effort ever be undertaken to add capacity to the congested stretch of freeway that connects the Austin and San Antonio metropolitan areas.
In addition to a planned redesign and reconstruction of three entrance and exit ramps approaching Posey Road, the new plan would replace three additional ramps in southern Hays and northern Comal counties, Levario said. The new ramps are expect to improve access to major businesses such as the Premium and Tanger outlet malls at Centerpoint Road; San Marcos Toyota at Posey Road; and TXI Cement north of New Braunfels near York Creek Road. (Seven other access road ramps will be reconstructed between Center Street in Kyle and York Creek Road on San Marcos’ southern outskirts, but were not identified in Weaver’s and Levario’s presentation.)
Taken together, the new overpass and ramp reversals will allow officials to convert access roads between Posey and York Creek roads to one-way traffic. The 2.2-mile stretch of interstate the southernmost reach of San Marcos is the last remaining in Hays County with two-way access roads designed and built decades ago to serve a rural area with commiserate traffic volumes.
State, regional and local decision makers “have been working in a very aggressive way and very strategic way to make improvements to I-35, all the way from the northern portion of Williamson County to the southern portion of Hays County and everything else in between,” said Hays County Pct. 3 Commissioner Will Conley, who negotiated the original deal and the recent changes along with Pct. 1 Commissioner Debbie Gonzales Ingalsbe.
Assuming TxDOT meets its timetable for finalizing designs and securing environmental clearance, construction on the Posey Road project is tentatively expected to start next spring, Levario said.
Presentation on changes to Posey Road interchange reconstruction [pdf] | 12/16/14
COVER: Hays County Judge Bert Cobb. MERCURY FILE PHOTO by SEAN BATURAEmail | Print