The letter was written by City Councilor Roger Wayson, who works with the Federal Highway Administration and is a noise and air pollution expert.
“Councilor Wayson has done noise studies for the federal government, Air Force, and Army bases,” Mayor Don Orr told DailyTrib.com. “He’s a well-known environmental person who understands noise and how to stop it.”
The letter is also being sent to the Capital Area Council of Governments; the cities of Marble Falls, Horseshoe Bay, and Granite Shoals; the Texas Department of Transportation; Burnet County commissioners; and media outlets.
The city is not trying to stop the bridge from being constructed, Orr said. What officials want are environmental, noise, and traffic studies done and presented as well as public hearings.
The letter noted that after a presentation on the bridge during the council meeting Nov. 18, councilors were told those studies would not be done. Orr said the belief is that is because the state of Texas won’t be paying for the bridge’s construction.
“It’s pass-through money from the state … ” Orr said. “It’s a way to get around the studies. It needs to be done right. It would be standard if it were a state bridge.”
Wayson said he’d like to see feasibility and traffic studies done, noting the last feasibility study in 2005 stated the bridge wasn’t practical.
“What has changed?” he asked. “They look at economics, traffic, all that stuff.”
At a public meeting held by the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization, attendees raised concerns about the bridge, “which seem to have been forgotten,” reads the letter.
“A survey was distributed by CAMPO, but there was no place to directly check a negative response for the project except in comments,” the letter continues. “The comments were not shown in the survey results shared in the media. The reported approval rate of 87 percent is very misleading. Many people complained about the biased survey, but to no avail.”
The letter also states that “several misconceptions about the bridge” exist, including the estimate of a substantial time savings for driver using the new bridge and the $30 million price tag. Another main concern is that FM 2147 through Cottonwood Shores is two lanes with a turn lane and no shoulder entrance or exit lanes.
“This lack of planning for RM 2147 is a significant concern for (the city of) Cottonwood Shores,” the letter reads. “Traffic counts taken over a year ago using (Texas Department of Transportation) approved methods, showed a daily volume of almost 12,000 vehicles on this two-lane facility. The increased traffic with plans to tie RM 2147 into (Texas) 71, the increased business locations in Cottonwood Shores on RM 2147, and the large increase in truck traffic should be taken into consideration for this section of roadway. The City has concerns that in addition to safety, access to businesses could be affected by the heavy traffic.”
The letter also addresses the environmental concerns, specifically habitats, quiet areas, and hunting grounds for migrating birds such as American white pelicans, geese, bald eagles, hawks, and falcons, and the bridge’s impact on the city’s 17-acre wooded nature park that extends from the water near the proposed bridge crossing.
“We want to make sure the bridge meets standard and safety requirements,” Orr said.