Kyle official says Blanco-Nance Bridge opposition is unwarranted

City Council approved Transportation Master Plan amendments 6-0.

City Council approved Transportation Master Plan amendments 6-0.

The city of Kyle is receiving flack after presenting a proposal for a new bridge to cross the the Blanco River at the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization meeting on Sept. 11.

The proposed amendment to CAMPO's 2040 Transportation Plan would be a $30 million “multi-lane" lane bridge that would run from Cypress Road to Hilliard Road and would include a pedestrian/bike lane starting at the elevated western Blanco River bank to a new road connecting to Hilliard Road.

However, after last night’s meeting, Will Conley, who leads the CAMPO board and is also a Hays County commissioner, said he recommends removing the amendment from the plan until the details were worked out more in Kyle.

Kyle Director of Planning Howard Koontz said if the proposal for the Blanco-Nance Bridge was moved from the 2040 revised plan to the a future drafted 2045 CAMPO plan, it would give the city time to do the planning, engineering and background work that goes into building before bidding starts in 2025.

“There are several, several years—probably in the neighborhood of 7-10 years from now—before this project will even see the first shovel," Koontz said, adding this was the infancy stage of a project with a lot of opportunity.

“There are so many options available to us that we’re probably going to have to brainstorm to find out what the development interest wants vs. how its works with [the] city of Kyle’s plans for transportation infrastructure," he said.

Koontz said even though citizens in the west part of Kyle can currently travel through county roads and San Marcos streets to access their properties, as new developments come to Kyle, the city needs to be prepared to provide new infrastructure.
"I don’t believe that anyone would be putting a project together that is going to cause harm to the community."

—Howard Koontz, Kyle director of planning

“Currently the families are able to access property on both side of the river because they have low water access crossings on the Blanco [River] but when those properties are developed, and for the sake of public good, there is going to need to be a more substainable  and appropriate crossing,” Koontz said.

Brad Stoddard, a resident who spoke during the CAMPO public hearing, said the bridge could be a good thing and make it easier for families getting their children to school.

Lila Knight, a resident of Kyle, was one of many citizens concerned about the environmental impact of the bridge.

“Just crossing the Blanco [River] is going to cause huge environmental impacts and require a great deal of study," she said. " I don’t know what kind of designs they have in mind, but I know my city and they will go cheap.”

Koontz said he is aware of the present opposition—much of which is based on environmental concerns—but does not believe people have a reason to be concerned

"Are the concerns valid? The truth is, no," he said. "I don’t believe that anyone would be putting a project together that is going to cause harm to the community. There are so many details of this project that [have] not yet been developed or revealed that to get down in the weeds of deleterious impact is premature."

Blanco-Nance bridge The city of Kyle is proposing to building a $30 million bridge over the Blanco River on the Nance-Bradshaw property.[/caption]

Knight said not having any details about the bridge and the lack of government transparency also poses a major concern.

“It would be nice if they would inform the citizens on what they plan on doing and get some buyout from the citizens,” Knight said. “We need to put an end to the secrecy at city hall and focus on fixing our existing infrastructure.”

According to Koontz, Hays County will hold a countywide forum for locals to discuss the future bridge construction and how it will affect taxpayers.

While it is too early to know how the $30 million bridge will be funded, Koontz said the idea is to get the project on CAMPO’s radar now in hopes it will be evaluated for federal dollars allocated for regional transportation and then adjusted accordingly.

The next CAMPO meeting will be on Oct. 16.