Residents and elected officials are questioning a request by the city of Kyle to include a proposed bridge over the Blanco River in a regional transportation plan.
During a public hearing Sept. 11 to amend the 2040 long-range plan, residents expressed concern over the project to elected officials who sit on the policy board for the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization.
Kelly Davis, who is the attorney for the environmental group Save Our Springs Alliance, said the project would bring additional traffic to nearby major roadways, including I-35 and FM 1626, and bring more development.
“This [project]was not the result of a democratic process,” she said. “… We need to step back and wait until there is more stakeholder development.”
Local jurisdictions can submit amendments, including new projects, to the plan. The city of Kyle is proposing to build the bridge on the Nance-Bradshaw Ranch property from Hilliard Road to Cypress Road. In 2016 the Nance family voluntarily annexed the property into the city of Kyle.
The description of the project provided by the city of Kyle to CAMPO says the project would be a “multi-lane span bridge, including a pedestrian/bike lane, starting at the elevated western Blanco River bank to a new road connecting to Hilliard Road.” The city proposed that the $30 million project would go out to bid for construction in 2025.
Residents who spoke against the bridge said this was the first time they had heard about the project and that it did not have many details on the exact location of the proposed new road to the bridge or whether the new road would displace homes. Others were concerned about the impact on the environment and wildlife.
Only one resident spoke in favor of the project: Brad Stoddard, who said the bridge could provide better access to children getting to school and safety by connecting to other streets.
“You really only have one way in and one way out,” he said.
Howard Koontz, director of planning for the city of Kyle, said the bridge was part of the development agreement the city approved with the Nance family.
Robert Kleeman, who is authorized to represent Scott and Lana Nance, said likely a public improvement district or tax increment financing option could be created to help fund the project.
“This is considered more of a regional project,” he said. “[The Nances] already agreed they would donate all the right of way for the bridge.”
Because the item was only up for a public hearing, the board could not take action on the amendments. However, Will Conley, who leads the CAMPO board and is also a Hays County commissioner, said he plans to make a recommendation at the CAMPO board’s Oct. 16 meeting to remove the item from the amendment list.
“[That way] the process can go through the proper channels and dialogue to address the multiple issues that are occurring in this very busy and sensitive part of Hays County,” he said.
Conley said he has already spoken to the Kyle city manager and plans to speak to the mayor about the project. He said the project is also a long way off from being built and too conceptual for inclusion in the 2040 plan.
“This is premature to be at the [CAMPO] level and needs to have more discussion at home in Kyle with the landowners, the neighborhoods and stakeholders that would be impacted,” he said.