By Kathi Bliss
Working now in earnest with consultants and members of the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization (CAMPO), the Caldwell County Commissioners have begun laying out plans to improve transportation routes throughout Caldwell County.
According to Mike Aulick, who was hired last month as a transportation consultant, the County has funds available through CAMPO that can still be used for roadway projects, including a sum that has been allocated to increase connectivity to State Highway 130.
Three sets of potential projects, one dealing specifically with state roadways, another talking about safety issues and a third, containing smaller projects within the county, were discussed during a brief workshop on Monday morning.
Among the proposed projects, Precinct 3 Commissioner Neto Madrigal has advocated strongly in recent months for joining with Hays County on the expansion of both Yarrington Road and FM 150, potentially extending both roads from I-35 in Hays County to SH-130 in Caldwell County.
Commissioner Fred Buchholtz said one of his primary goals includes a traffic study in downtown Luling, with the hopes of finding a means to ease the traffic congestion caused by trains, truck traffic and commuters at the intersection of Highway 183, Highway 90 (Pierce St.), and the Union Pacific railroad tracks.
Those, as well as dozens of other projects, including upgrades, extensions and studies of intersections to improve safety of travel throughout the county will continue to be considered as the Commissioners work through the Caldwell County Transportation Plan. In the coming months, they will be reviewing and prioritizing potential projects, in an effort to have plans “shovel ready” when funding becomes available for appropriate projects.
The next workshop session will be held during the regular meeting of the Caldwell County Commissioners Court on Monday, May 12, 2014.
In other business, the Commissioners settled a lengthy discussion on the decoration of the main hallway at the Caldwell County Judicial Service Center.
As construction on the project has moved forward, the Court has grappled with how best to represent Caldwell County, artistically, in the grand hall of the building. Concepts ranging from tiled floor mosaics to wall murals and etched glass have been discussed in concept, without specific plans being brought forward.
This week, however, contractors provided cost estimates and examples of water-jet cut tile mosaics, of which the Commissioners seemed fond.
For the cost of $18,500, the contractors will install a 7-foot by 7-foot mosaic of the Caldwell County Courthouse, though not in exact detail, in the flooring of the building.
The original budget for the decorative piece was $35,000, a number at which some of the Commissioners balked, prompting the extensive discussion about alternatives.
Buchholtz said he was concerned that, because the courthouse is such an intricate building, it might not be conveyed as well as the court wants it to, and therefore voted against the measure.
The rest of the Court voted in support of the installation of the mosaic.
In brief news:
The Commissioners heard reports about a variety of County departments, as well as a report on the Federal Inmate Revenue collected by the Caldwell County Jail in March. According to County Auditor Larry Roberson, the Federal inmate population has waned, a drop-off that could create a deficit up to $80,000 in the budgeted figure for that income.
On a brighter note, Roberson said, sales tax collections were up for the month of March, pushing those income collections to $38,502 over budget for the first six months of the fiscal year.
Because weather patterns seem favorable for rain throughout the week, the Commissioners opted, on the advice of Emergency Management Coordinator Martin Ritchey, to leave the outdoor burning ban off for the time being. However, Ritchey reminded residents that it is still illegal to burn on Red Flag Days, when wind speeds are high and humidity is low.
The Caldwell County Commissioners Court routinely meets on the second, third and fourth Monday of each month at 9 a.m. in the Conference and Training Center of the LW Scott Annex, 1403 Blackjack St., in Lockhart.