CAMPO adds 281-1431 intersection to improvement list





By Lew K. Cohn

Managing Editor

The Highlander

A project to reconstruct the intersection of US 281 and Ranch to Market Road 1431 has been added to the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization (CAMPO) Transportation Improvement Plan (TIP) for 2019-2022, CAMPO officials said this week.

CAMPO regional planning manager Kelly Porter and community outreach manager Doise Miers met with Burnet County commissioners Tuesday morning to discuss the regional arterial plan as well as the Transportation Improvement Plan.

CAMPO is charged, working in cooperation with the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) and area transit operators, with developing the four-year plan, which lists projects funded with federal dollars which are consistent with the area's long-range plan.

At Monday night's CAMPO Transportation Policy Board meeting, the board voted to approve the 2019-2022 TIP, which now will set aside $1.62 million for fiscal year 2021 under Project BUC16RD for construction to fix the right turns and the traffic signals at the US 281 and RM 1431 intersection.

“281 and 1431 are important arteries in the regional transportation system and that intersection is very much a clog in the arterial system,” said Burnet County Judge James Oakley, a member of the CAMPO Transportation Policy Board. “You have a sharper than 90-degree turn if you are going northbound on 281 and want to go east on 1431, and that becomes problematic for big trucks or tractor-trailers.

“That intersection needs a complete overhaul with substantial right-of-way acquisition to make that work. This money will help do this.”

Also included in the 2019-2022 TIP were five other Burnet County projects previously suggested by the CAMPO Technical Advisory Committee:

* Project BUC1RD, Public engineering funds for a new Wirtz Dam Road bridge and approaches to connect Ranch to Market Road 1431 to RM 2147, Burnet County/TxDOT are sponsoring entities, $2,981,250 proposed funding.

* Project BUC12RD, Construction funds for Texas 29 to reconstruct to four 11-foot lane, a 12-foot continuous turn lane and 10-foot shoulders from Ranch to Market Road 243 in Bertram to the Williamson County line, Burnet County/TxDOT are sponsoring entities, $5,184,000.

* Project BUC14RD, Construction funds to reconstruct to four 12-foot lanes, a 14-foot continuous turn lane and 10-foot shoulders, US 281 south of Texas 71 to the Blanco County line, Burnet County/TxDOT are sponsoring entities, $5,616,000.

* Project BUC20RD, Reconstruct to four 12-foot lanes, a 14-foot continuous turn lane and 10-foot shoulders, Texas 71 from Spur 191 in Spicewood east to the Blanco County line, Burnet County/TxDOT are sponsoring entities, $9,720,000.

* Project BUC18RD, Construction of curb and gutter, sidewalks and shoulders on US 281 from Lantana Drive to Nature Heights Drive in Marble Falls, Burnet County/TxDOT are sponsoring entities, $1,080,000.

Technical staff from CAMPO were charged with reviewing 57 submitted projects with an estimated cost of more than $1 billion. Projects were scored based on project readiness, planning factors and cost-benefit analysis to create a “recommended” TIP list for the six-county region, which is comprised of Burnet, Blano, Travis, Williamson, Hays and Caldwell counties, Myers said.

The average request submitted to CAMPO had an average price tag of about $8 million, with the highest logging in at more than $120 million and the smallest costing just under $100,000.

Four other projects submitted by Burnet County were not included in the TIP. They include:

* Texas 29 from the Longhorn railroad tracks east of Burnet to RM 243 North in Bertram, add a continuous left turn lane and paved shoulders, $12,077,000.

* US 281, from Park Road 4 south of Burnet to RM 1855 north of Marble Falls, add a continuous left turn lane and paved shoulders, $14,640,000.

* Texas 71 from US 281 south of Marble Falls to Spur 191 in Spicewood, add a continuous left turn lane and paved shoulders, $15,873,000.

* RM 1431 from The Manzano Mile, 4.9 miles east, to east of Sycamore Creek, realign segments of the highway and add paved shoulders, $19,274,000.

“These funds (approved Monday) were primarily aimed at mobility. They were not necessarily aimed at safety,” Oakley said. “Still, it was a very successful night for Burnet County the way I see it.

“Most of the timeline moving forward will be up to TxDOT. The plan goes to the Texas Transportation Commission in August and then to FHA (Federal Highway Administration) for an October timeframe. We know TxDOT is very eager to put this money to work, though several of these projects are a couple of years out. It maybe seems like they took some baby steps, but they are some very sure steps.”

Porter told commissioners that CAMPO representatives armed with tablets — what he calls the “iPad Army” — would be walking the square in Burnet and visiting in Bertram Tuesday as well to get public opinion about transportation needs for inclusion in the regional arterial plan. The group had previously accumulated a wealth of responses from the Marble Falls area.

“This planning process is really a big-eyed look at how the arterial system needs to develop for our region over the next 20-some odd years between now and the year 2045,” Porter said. “We really hope to provide a forum for bringing some consensus and some vision to the region and coordinating with all the local governments in the six-county area to make sure our regional transportation needs are recognized.”

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