Cities prepare for utilities, transportation projects

San Marcos

The City of San Marcos will begin a construction project downtown in early summer 2012 that will bury power lines along Hutchison Street from C.M. Allen Parkway to LBJ Street and on LBJ Street from Hutchison to University Drive.

The $10 million project is scheduled to begin in early summer and is being funded by city bonds.

The endeavor began as a long-term project to improve drainage in the downtown area but was expanded when the city's Downtown Master Plan was approved in 2008.

The plan calls for upgraded facilities for pedestrians and cyclists, and aesthetic improvements such as underground electric utilities.

The underground utilities project will also provide power to Texas State's new Performing Arts Center and South Chill Plant, both of which will face University Drive.

The project is scheduled for completion in December 2013.

Construction on the Thorpe Lane/Hopkins Street intersection is scheduled to begin in March or April, depending on the weather.

The $1.5 million project will add two left-turn lanes on the eastbound side of Hopkins onto Thorpe and two left-turn lanes from Thorpe onto eastbound Hopkins.

City Engineer Jennifer Shell said the plan, which was approved in November 2005 with Proposition 4, also calls for a median to be placed on Hopkins to prevent drivers from making left turns into the H-E-B parking lot.

The project is expected to take between seven and eight months to complete. It is being funded by 2008–10 drainage and street bond sales and the 2005 bond election.

Buda

Halff and Associates recently won a bid to take over management of the City of Buda's Parks and Trails Master Plan.

Chance Sparks, director of planning for the city, said the plan will provide a framework for the city's parks over the next 10 years.

The Parks and Trails Master Plan is in the discussion phase. The project's lead engineer attended Buda Fest in December surveying citizens about what they would like to see in the plan.

Sparks said he hopes to add more bike trails to take advantage of Buda's proximity to Austin's cycling culture.

The Transportation Master Plan is also in the discussion phase and will be handled by the engineering firm of Lockwood, Andrews & Newnam.

"We're trying to look at not just roadway capacity, but how they're used," Sparks said.

He said the creation of the transportation plan includes a $100,000 budget.

"We're creating facilities for bikes [and] facilities for pedestrians. We're not going to force people to ride a bike, but they should have the option," he said.

Kyle

On Nov. 22, the newly constructed bridge over I-35 at Kyle Crossing and Windy Hill Road opened. Precinct 2 Commissioner Mark Jones said before the completion of the project that the intersection was the worst in Hays County.

The project was funded in part by the state's pass-through financing program.

Under the system, Hays County and the City of Kyle paid for the construction but will be reimbursed by the state based on the number of vehicles that travel on the improved road.

Jones said the count of vehicles traveling on the road has not yet been conducted because there are plans to open two more lanes on the west side of the highway.

"It is very well-done and it's been a big help," he said. "TxDOT called and wanted us to do a grand opening ribbon cutting, and I said I'd rather just get the bridge open. We didn't want to delay it another day."



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