Thursday, December 07, 2006

Mike Weaver rolls out his wish list

How the $250 million road bond might be spent

Reagan, Westinghouse, Chandler roads top commissioners' list of priorities.

December 07, 2006

By Lisa Ogle
Austin American Statesman
Copyright 2006

One day, it won't be so bad to drive through the county. Or so current and incoming commissioners hope.

Last week, they reviewed projects funded by the 2000 bond program and projects that still need to be done.

The court's top priorities for the $250 million bond issue that voters approved Nov. 7 are to widen and reconstruct Westinghouse Road and to extend Ronald Reagan Boulevard and Chandler Road, transportation consultant Mike Weaver said. The Commissioners Court also will look at finishing county roads that tie into Texas 130, a toll road that is partially open and should be completed next year.

"They all would help reduce congestion," especially the county roads off of Texas 130, Weaver said.

For congested Westinghouse Road, it's also a safety issue because of the nearby Celebration Church, he said. The growing nondenominational church has 4,000 members.

The three top projects would take about a quarter of the bond money, based on information from county spokeswoman Connie Watson:

n Ronald Reagan Boulevard, from Texas 195 to Interstate 35; 6.5 miles, $24.3 million.

n Westinghouse Road, from I-35 to County Road 110; 4 miles, $19.9 million

•Chandler Road, from FM 1660 to Texas 95; 8 miles, $21.3 million.

Other roads that require work, based on the ballot language, include Brushy Creek Road, Inner Loop, Lakeline Boulevard, U.S. 79, FM 1460, RM 2243 and RM 620.

None of the proposals has been formally approved, and work on specific projects has yet to be decided.

Commissioner Lisa Birkman said the incoming court should meet with the appropriate cities and the Texas Department of Transportation to work out agreements and develop plans that everyone can support.

The court is not expected to approve any projects before Jan. 1, County Judge John Doerfler said.

Even with this bond program, the second-largest after the $350 million package in 2000, more work will be needed, Birkman said.

"I would assume with the growth of the county that we're going to have to have more bond elections," she said.; 246-1150

© 2006 Austin American-Statesman: www.