Area school gets construction kickbacks?
The more I learn about the construction of SH-130, the less any of it makes a bit of sense to me.
Having lived in Austin for several years, and worked there for several more, I absolutely understand the need to reroute truck traffic around the city. I cannot think of a thing more harrowing than trying to get on IH-35 at William Cannon at 7:30 a.m., playing chicken with
18-wheelers while the car behind you tries to crawl up your exhaust pipe and push you onto the freeway. It’s wretched, and it’s one of the reasons I have never regretted moving back to Lockhart.
But… not the point.
As plans, construction and the opening of this highway have pressed forward, one of the most commonly-asked questions has been “Is any city other than Austin really going to benefit from this highway?”
Answers to that question abound, and both sides of the debate seem to have lucid, well-thought-out and viable answers. On Monday afternoon, I received a press release that offered yet another answer, and brought with it no less than three dozen more questions.
As it turns out, the army of private-sector developers, contractors and engineers assembled by TxDOT to plan and build the northernmost sections of SH-130 were assembled into a group that calls itself Lone Star Infrastructure. And apparently, Lone Star Infrastructure has committed itself to improving the communities along the SH-130 corridor that are being impacted by the construction.
That sounds great on paper.
This week, Lone Star Infrastructure (LSI) will be unveiling the resurfaced track that they donated to a Central Texas middle school later this week. The school, according to LSI, was in need of the track, and based on their community-minded commitment, making the donation seemed like a natural fit.
That sounds good on paper, too.
Reading further into the release, I discovered that the middle school in question is Dahlstrom Middle School. That’s right – Dahlstrom. The oldest of the four middle schools in the Hays Consolidated School District. Dahlstrom, which when I played volleyball in junior high school, was the only school I’d ever seen with a carpeted gymnasium.
That Dahlstrom. The Dahlstrom that is a part of one of the richest school districts in Central Texas.
The same Dahlstrom, by the way, that, at its closest point, is some 20 miles – as the crow flies – from any part of this highway.
The explanation I was offered from LSI is almost reasonable, and almost passable. Apparently, Dahlstrom is located near the gravel pit LSI has used for most of the construction to this point. It seems that the constant in-and-out of gravel trucks has damaged the surrounding roads and created something of a noise and traffic hazard for the students and their parents.
I’m not saying that anything that businesses can do for kids is a great thing. I’m sure those students over at Dahlstrom needed a new track, and I’m sure they will get great use out of it. I don’t begrudge them their good fortune.
I do wonder, however, whether Lockhart Junior High School will be looked upon with the same favor, given the fact that , even after the gravel trucks are gone, our students will still have a major highway within a half-mile of their school. Talk about children being impacted by the highway…. Come on.
Now here’s the tricky part.
According to the representative I talked to, LSI will have nothing to do with the construction of the highway segments that will impact Caldwell County. Their involvement comes to an end at the end of Section 4, where SH-130 links up with Highway 183 in Mustang Ridge. Which means that LSI will have nothing to do with the part of SH-130 that comes closest to Dahlstrom Middle School in the first place. Would Del Valle, perhaps, not have been a better recipient? Or Elgin? Hutto, maybe?
From what I understand, Spanish-based Cintra and San Antonio-based Zachry will be the firms taking over the highway where LSI leaves off. At that point, it will be up to a new group of private-sector contractors to decide what, if any, community development donations they will make.
I just hope they don’t decide to use SH-130 as a springboard to build a new football stadium in Plano.
(By LPR Staff)