Two meetings keep Burnet County traffic on TxDOT radar

Glynis Crawford Smith/The Highlander

The Burnet County Commissioners Court reconvenes Tuesday, March 28, to take a fine-toothed comb to detail of future Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) projects in the county. Seen here, from left, are Commissioners Jim Luther Jr. and Joe Don Dockery, and TxDOT engineers Cathy Kratz and Jason Caviness.

 

 

 

 

By Glynis Crawford Smith

The Highlander

Two important transportation meetings went on in Burnet County this week.

A sit-down of Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) and the Burnet County Commissioners Court was held in an open workshop Tuesday, March 28, at the Burnet courthouse and a Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization (CAMPO) open house on long-range plans was held Wednesday, March 29.

Commissioners went line by line through 54 projects, only 24 of which are on the 2017 priority list for TxDOT, but all important to one or morel precincts. CAMPO representatives came to convey feedback on possible amendments to the CAMPO 2040 and 2017-2020 Transportation Improvement Program (TIP).

Commissioners workshop

The goal of the Tuesday courthouse meeting was to keep the needs of Burnet County constituents in the forefront of TxDOT planning, but it was an open meeting that drew in any city representatives and citizens interested.

One citizen attended and he had an issue that has been on many minds since the announcement of a TxDOT Super 2 project on US 281 north of Burnet.

“Your are going to spend $36 million to convert a four-lane road to two lanes?” asked George Pangburn, who lives off County Road 109 north of town. “It is a 70 mph speed limit. When I haul livestock to Lampasas, I am not going to be going 70 mph. Traffic will be stacking up behind me. It's not safe.

“Could't we spend that money to make shoulders?”

Cathy Kratz, TxDOT Burnet Area engineer, began by saying she expects studies to indicate speed limits come down on that road, but the why of the project came down to cost and safety.

“It costs about a million dollars a mile to add shoulder,” she said. “You would multiply that by 25 miles (for both sides of the stretch).”

Johnny Campbell, executive director of the Marble Falls Area Emergency Medical Service, was asked for input: “I don't like Super 2s for emergency vehicles...coming up behind other vehicles that have no where to go.”

Kratz noted that reducing four lanes to two allows an eight-foot shoulder on each side within the current right-of-way and eliminates the hazards of drop-off on the edge of the current right-hand lanes.

“Right now, one wheel off the edge and you are looking at a potential accident,” said County Judge James Oakley, explaining the long-range plan is a four-lane highway with dedicated turn lanes.

“We are in the queue, looking for money for that project.”

“We don't want to spend money on band-aids that we have to turn around and tear up,” added Kratz.

“This (a Super 2 conversion) is specifically designed to stop run-offs,” said Justin Caviness, TxDOT assistant engineer for the Burnet Area. “A TTI (Texas A&M Transportation Institute) study and crash studies led to it.”

CAMPO

A couple of citizens at the CAMPO event had one stretch of highway to keep in front of planners: Texas 71 through Spicewood.

Linda Wall and Israel Perez were from the Spicewood Community Alliance, often shortened to SOS for “Save our Spicewood.” Seated by the comment box, they were listing the three rock crushing/cement plants and asphalt plant that create a steady stream of 18-wheelers, dump trucks, cement mixers and other traffic through a countryside where homesteads and housing additions are springing up thickly.

“The new Thomas Ranch subdivision is 22,000 acres, that eventually could have as many as 3,300 residents, some concentrated in apartments,” said Wall.

“We need a turn lane at least,” said Perez.

“SOS is meeting again from 6-8 p.m. at the Spicewood Community Center,” Wall added. “These are some of the things we will be talking about.”

The public is encouraged to participate in person or online at upcoming open houses and commenting opportunities. Two more come-and-go events in the 4-7 p.m. format will be held, one Monday, April 3 at Pleasant Hill Public Library, 211 E. William Cannon Dr. in Austin, and another, Tuesday, April 4 at the Jonestown Community Center, 18649 Ranch to Market Road 1431 in Jonestown.

Information will be available online at www.campotexas.org until the comment deadline at 5 p.m. April 14. For more information, contact Doise Miers at Doise.Miers@campotexas.org or 512-215-9411.

Marble Falls

Marble Falls City Manager Mike Hodge attended both meetings with his city council priorities in mind and an eye for every point they intersect with TxDOT planning.

Top on the city's list with TxDOT is safer turning at the intersection of US 281 and Ranch to Market Road 1431. However, other access and safety issues on US 281 include intersections at Mission Hills, Lantana and Nature Heights Drives.

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