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Hays Free Press
Kyle, Texas
March 18, 2015     Hays Free Press
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March 18, 2015

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+ + Page 4A HEWS Hays Free Press March 18, 2015 14 BY MOSES LEOS III After years of discus- sion and delays, the con- troversial State Highway 45 Southwest project that would bridge FM 1626 and Loop i in Austin has been cleared for con- struction. That decision was delivered from TxDOT to Hays County Pre- cinct 2 Commissioner Mark Jones via email on Tttc~sday.According to [0 / :Co struction on ~ project could begi'l~! by the end of 2015. i '~f'I'm excited about it," Jones said in a phone interview. 'Tk lot of people have worked long and hard (on this project). To get this close is a good feeling." TxDOT's decision comes two weeks after it green-lighted the four- mile, four-lane toll road to proceed toward final design and construction phase. On March 4, TxDOT handed down its record of decision (ROD) to move forward with the 'selected alternative" for SH 45 SW. The road would be built on TxDOT's existing state-owned right-of-way "A lot of people are wanting to build this road as environmentally sensitive as possible ... We felt confident all along that it could be built and it's environmentally sensitive." - Mark Jones, Hays County Precinct 2 Commissioner alternative. According to impact to sensitive karst the ROD, design changes features in the ROW. Oth- were made as TxDOT de-er changes include using veloped the final environ- permeable friction course mental impact study. One pavement and creating change includes realign- water quality ponds. ment of the route to avoid According to the ROD, the alternative doesn'tThe project will also in- "displace residences or clude a 4.5-mile, 10-foot businesses," or affect wide shared-use path water quality protection from FM 1626 to Escarp- lands (WQPLs). ment. 'Tk lot of people are Access to the toll road wanting to build this road would be limited to FM as environmentally sen- 1626, Bliss Spiller Road sitive as possible," Jones and Loop 1 heading west said. "We felt confident and SH 45 west of Loop 1 all along that it could be going east. built and it's enviroflmen- According to Jones, the tally sensitive." Rodriguez Transportation The toll road would Group (RTG) was select- run southeast from the ed to develop final design intersection of MoPac and construction plans. and existing SH 45 to "There could be more FM 1626 approximately attempts to slow it down one mile south of Brodie or stop it, but I don't Lane. It will feature 12- know if they'll be suc- foot wide lanes within a cessful," Jones said. "I ROW of 300 to 600 feet. don't think they will." Water: Bill would curb Goforth Water Continued from pg. 1A Ruge told Hays Free Press Friday that Isaac's bill regarding Goforth's eminent domain power "certainly is an interesting development." For now, he said, 'All options are on the table." In an official city state- ment released Saturday, Buda said it supports establishing '% just and consistent process for regulating non- exempt groundwater production," U~yeSS it disproportion- or adversely affects a city's ability to provide an adequate water supply to its users. Ruge said the city has been working on getting a short-term solution to Buda's water need since 2010, and until that needed resource can be secured, he said officials couldn't take any options Buda Council Continued from pg. 1A Isaac has warned constituents that his proposed bills may not be enough to effectively kill the EP water project in Hays County, depending on how long it may take to approve Isaac's legislation. off the table. A look at Buda's water inventory by Lockwood Andrews and Newman found the city would need additional water as soon as 2017 to accom- modate growth. Buda is a member of the Hays Caldwell Public Utility Agency (HCPUA), which is working to secure future long-term water resources for its members. In its statement, Buda said Isaac represents the city, however none of its 13,000 citizens were consulted, their input included, nor their needs considered when writing the legislation. "The City of Buda is always open to and con- tinues to encourage dialog and cooperation among all affected parties in Hays County to help achieve the balance in efficient and effective legislation without undue regula- tions," the statement said. EP presently has seven test drills in Hays County's white zone, just outside of Wimbefley.'All but one are said to be viable produc- ers of water necessary to fulfill EP's contracts with its three water customers. Isaac has warned constituents that his proposed bills may not be enough to effectively kill the EP water project in Hays County. The EP project could end up sliding under the radar depending on how long it may take to approve Isaac's legislation. HB 3407, which would strip GoforthWater of its eminent domain author- ity outside of its jurisdic- tion, if approved by a two- thirds vote in the house and senate, would go in to effect immediately. If the measure is approved, but doesn't meet the two-thirds requirement, it woUld go into effect Sept. 1. Other water legislation: Rep. Jason Isaac, joined by State Senator Donna Campbell with a companion bill, also filed legislation last Thursday aimed at expanding the boundaries of two groundwater conservation districts in Hays County. HB3405/SB 1439 and HB 3406/SB 1440 could bring the Trinity Aquifer in Hays County under the watch of either the Barton Springs/Edwards Aquifer Conservation District or the Hays Trinity Groundwater Conservation District, both could have their district boundaries extended through the. proposed legislation. "Now we can legally pursue legislation to address the groundwater issues in Hays County," Isaac said at a press conference at the Capitol Thursday. "... The white zone (unregulated area) will effectively be gone in Hays County." "I remain confident that the legislation we filed today will help bring a solution to protect not only the Trinity Aquifer, but also well owners who are worried about their wells running dry in the near future, and prop- erty owners who could lose their land from the wrongful use of eminent domain powers," Isaac said. + attorne5 due to the fact that Texas is a property owner centered state. If it's owned and been zoned, then the state can super- sede the city and issue building permits if the city has not provided them. The exchange led to some further inquiries into the way in which the projections were calculat- ed. Hardin pointed to the fact that these numbers were based on limited data and were best guess estimates, but as he led the council through the calculated process, it was clear they weren't pro- duced by a roll of the dice. He further pointed to the danger of comparing data with other cities, as each has its own unique needs. Planning director Chance Sparks spoke at length about a Direct Po- table Reuse Conservation Program being studied. City staff is looking at several other Texas cities that have implemented such programs with good results. Sparks also mentioned two avenues of "revenue based water conserve- ~, tio~e stick and car- ~::~o ~ ~nservation as he .... t ern which,are currently under advise- ment and, if agreed upon, will be implemented in : new bu etyear. 'The stick includes e' ures suchaSdrought surcharges, seasonal rates and irrigation rates. The carrot is an incentive program for water users that approximately $37,000 for retrofitting on a first come first serve basis in the new budget year. Sparks said the success of these programs would depend heavily on education and participation, citing similar efforts in other cities. Findings will be presented to council early in May. BROADWAY BANK We're here for good? Buda Banking Center I 321 N. FM 1626 [ 512.295.8000 [ 800.531.7650 Kyle Banking Center [ 5809 Kyle Pkwy. [ 512.268.2021 ] 800.531.7650 40 Neighborhood Locations [ I MemberFDIC [ ~ ~r~ + I i I1 [1! I1[ II i i 1 I!I I,' i I I i II ..........!i[ ....... ..... ] - .... " ililii