Relief route option will affect fewest properties
Based on information gathered, the Texas Department of Transportation presented a technically preferred Fredericksburg Relief Route option Tuesday afternoon.
Before the meeting on Tuesday at the Gillespie County Farm Bureau Pape Event Center, Fredericksburg City Manager Kent Myers explained what the “technically preferred” route means.
“We came up with this term as the ‘technically preferred route’ option, and that means it’s based on the technical criteria that the task force and TxDOT set,” Myers said. “It’s the highest rated according to points assigned for traffic improvements, the number of buildings that have to be torn down and historic sites.”
The option is Route E, which connects to Tivydale Road from U.S. Highway 290 East, and will cross Friendship Land and State Highway 16 South, before crossing over U.S. 290 West and ending at U.S. 87 North.
According to the Relief Route Study evaluation metrix, this was the most preferred route.
Based on raw data, the 8.6-mile road should save 16 minutes of travel time, displace 19 residences, reduce the number of trucks on Main Street by 1,610 per day and cost about $226.3 million.
Dianne Eckhardt, of Eckhardt Orchards, a business that would’ve been impacted by one of the earlier options, said if something gets built, she hopes the route benefits residents and travelers.
“Instead of dividing property, I hope landowners can actually benefit from it,” Eckhardt said. “If there’s limited access, that’s not always a preferred option for the landowners.”
Hugh Jons, who recently moved into a newly constructed home, said if land is going to be planned for a route, then residents should be immediately compensated.
“The most egregious thing that I can think of about this whole process is the government taking our property rights without compensation,” Jons said.
He believes developing a route option immediately decreases his property value.
“Like most people, my family, my money and my life’s work is in my house,” Jons said.
Benefits, next steps
“There will be people who like it, and people who won’t like it and, of course, we knew that going into this,” Myers said.
This is not the chosen route, and no decision on approving the route is being decided at this time. It only allows TxDOT, the city and the Fredericksburg Relief Route task force to better evaluate residents’ needs, and discover and release more information such as cost and impact on homes.
“All these questions people have been asking, now we can start to develop real answers for,” said Kory Keller, chairman of the Relief Route Task Force. “It’s kind of like the scientific process. You can’t just go from the hypothesis right to the conclusion.”
Myers and Keller also discussed benefits that a relief route would provide, including giving Main Street back to the city’s control.
“At some point, (TxDOT) has a responsibility to get people from A to B. Well, how much does Fredericksburg as a city impede that?” Keller asked. “As that gets worse, they have more of an incentive to do something.”
Myers said there are pros and cons with the city taking over Main Street. It will be costly, but it allows the city to do what it wants with the road.
“We can form a boulevard, we can put in more sidewalks, we can do outdoor restaurants. It can become more of a city street and we can design it however we want to,” Myers said.
Myers said a lot of public feedback has been given on the Fredericksburg Relief Route, which has given officials an idea of what residents want.
According to information from TxDOT documents, the next step will be a feasibility study to be completed by spring 2020. Then, the City of Fredericsburg, Gillespie County and TxDOT will coordinate to determine whether the relief route project advances further. After that, an environmental study would be planned.
The environmental study, the final design process and construction are not yet funded.
To submit comments or questions, email FredericksburgReliefRoute@gmail.com, or by mail to: CP&Y, Attn: Fredericksburg Relief Route Study, 13809 Research Blvd., Suite 300, Austin, TX 78750. Comments must be received on or before Jan. 29, to be included in the official record of this open house.
Questions may also be directed to Joe Muck at Joe.Muck@txdot.gov or 512-715-5702.