Funding elusive for county road projects wish list

BURNET — A number of road projects including bypass routes around Marble Falls could receive endorsements from the Burnet County Commissioners by summer, but funding still needs to be found.

The commissioners may look to state and federal grants, as well as other funding sources, to get some of the ambitious projects off the ground during the next 25 years, officials said this week.

 

“I cannot tell you how much they will cost,” County Judge Donna Klaeger said. “The cost of the projects are not figured in. They are cost-prohibitive at this point.”

However, as more funding becomes available in the future, any of the projects may be eligible for federal or state financial support, because the county will already have transportation “objectives and priorities” and other details cited in a comprehensive plan, Klaeger said.

“That is what federal and state officials look for,” she added.

Earlier this week, the commissioners voted unanimously to include several major road projects in the county’s Comprehensive Transportation Plan for 2035, now in its final stage of development.

“Hopefully, it (the plan) will be approved by the beginning of summer,” Klaeger said.

Texas Department of Transportation and county officials will meet to discuss the plan sometime next month or in May, and a couple of public meetings will be held before the plan is adopted, Klaeger said.

Possible projects include construction of two bypass routes east of U.S. 281 between Burnet and Marble Falls; expansion of Texas 29 and 71 to five lanes; widening part of U.S. 281 to six lanes; widening RR 1431 east of Marble Falls to four lanes; widening FM 2147 west of Marble Falls to five lanes; and construction of a new road near Wirtz Dam, officials said.

All of the projects reflect the commissioners’ best efforts to figure out how to control traffic congestion in the county in the years ahead, Klaeger said.

Because of the county’s anticipated population growth, all of the roadwork may not relieve future congestion.

“Despite these (road) enhancements, there will still be quite a bit of congestion,” Texas Transportation Institute Program Manager Phillip Reeder has said.

The Texas State Data Center predicts the county population will increase by 170 percent to 90,238 by 2035, Reeder added.

Yet, the U.S. Census population figures for the county still need to be studied, and those statistics might be a better resource than the state’s figures, Klaeger said.

“When the census becomes available, we will be able to look at where we are, and we may or may not change some of our assumptions,” she added.

The transportation plan can be changed at least every five years if required, Klaeger said.

“It is a fluid document,” she added.

raymond@thepicayune.com

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