By Moses Leos III
With the process of deciding where Hays County will realign FM 150 West still undecided, local residents spoke out at a Sept. 23 public meeting on the potential road plans.
Held at Wallace Middle School, the meeting brought to light issues from some residents who may be affected by Hays County’s plan. They were concerned it could do more harm than good.
“Something needs to be done [about FM 150], but it will be at the expense of someone,” Kyle resident Michelle German said.
The FM 150 realignment is part of the Hays County Transportation Plan adopted in 2013. The realignment is part of the Kyle Loop project, a proposed roadway that could connect IH-35 near Yarrington Road to the proposed Robert S. Light Truck Bypass in Buda.
Hays County is currently planning the first part of the loop, which calls for a road to connect IH-35 to FM 150.
The overall purpose is to alleviate through-traffic in downtown Kyle.
According to TxDOT traffic figures, FM 150 experienced 25,700 vehicles per day (vpd) in 2012. TxDOT projects that number to increase to 41,600 by 2035. Kyle is also projected to grow three times its current population of about 33,000 by 2040.
Hays County Pct. 2 Commissioner Mark Jones said the county learned that loops are necessary for managing growth, referring to those in Austin, San Antonio and Houston.
“We just feel like having the loops going around Kyle and the area will take away through traffic,” Jones said. “Center Street can’t handle the growth.”
K-Friese and Associates, the firm planning the alignment, put together a study team to develop realignment options. The team reviewed public comments made during an April public input meeting, along with analyzing current and future traffic data.
They came up with the four corridors, A, B, C and D, for realigning FM 150.
Corridor A would connect FM 150 near Arroyo Ranch Road to Kohler’s Crossing, cutting between Barton Middle School and Live Oak Academy. Corridor B could see the expansion of Center Street to FM 150 near the Michaelis Ranch. Corridors C and D would connect FM 150 near Michaelis Ranch to Yarrington Road, traversing land to the southwest of Kyle.
Property owners voiced their opinions on the various options.
Karla Pfennig and her mother, both of whom own property next to Wildcat Hollow along Old Stagecoach Road, said one option in Corridor C would claim eight percent of her property and 40 percent of her mother’s.
Pfennig said she wouldn’t fight so long as she receives fair market value for her property, and the city doesn’t annex her. However, Pfennig said she’s already preparing for a legal battle.
“I will fight with hammer and tongue if it goes down my mother’s driveway,” she said.
Others living along Old Stagecoach Road had concerns. An option in Corridor C calls for the right-of-way for Old Stagecoach Road to be widened to 150 feet.
County Court at Law #2 Judge Linda Rodriguez, who lives near Old Stagecoach Road, said she understands the need to alleviate traffic. However, she said Corridor C would affect many homes and historic cemeteries in the area.
Bill Johnson, who lives at Halifax Ranch, would be affected by corridor C or D. He didn’t understand the need for a four-lane roadway between Dripping Springs and San Marcos.
Johnson expressed concerns about Corridor D, which crosses the Blanco River twice. He ultimately chose Corridor A as the most effective option.
Corridor A was an option provided by Roy Baldridge in a letter sent to Jones and Hays County Pct. 1 Commissioner Ray Whisenant.
It was part of an independent traffic study Baldridge completed at the corner of FM 150 west and FM 2770.
He found that 63 percent of 821 vehicles turned northbound on FM 2770, instead of continuing east on FM 150. The study was done during the hours of 6:45 to 9:15 a.m. on March 28, 2014.
“These traffic studies confirmed my belief that we need to assist the citizens living west of IH 35 in gaining access to destinations north from Kyle, and not the very few with destinations to the South,” Baldrige wrote in his letter.
Rolalio Tobias, Jr., who also lives off Old Stagecoach Road, didn’t feel the road was needed. He also believed the county is building the road to help with development of properties owned by the Texas General Land Office (GLO).
The GLO purchased the Hahn and Gregg ranches in 2011. According to Jones, the county isn’t interested in developing in areas where the proposed road goes through the GLO tract.
Whisenant said the GLO would give the county an idea of whether or not it could enter into some areas of the GLO tract by early 2015.
K-Friese will evaluate public comments and criteria to come up with a “preferred alignment.”
That recommendation is slated for a public workshop in summer 2015.