Property acquisition begins for highway construction
By LPR Staff
Within five years, construction will be complete, and State Highway 130 will become a reality.
After more than 20 years of planning, discussion and politicking, representatives of the State Highway 130 Concession Company, LLC, announced on Monday that property is being acquired in Caldwell County and the project will be
underway in less than a year.
“We don’t know [at this point] exactly where construction will begin,” said Dennis Sedlachek, the vice president of right of way for the SH 130 Concession Company. “There are several interchanges and areas defined as ‘critical parcels’ where we need to have the right of way acquired and plans in place by August 2009.”
From those “critical parcels,” Sedlachek said, construction will progress until all the areas of the highway are linked and open for business, sometime in 2012.
According to the report Sedlachek, along with Victoria Miller and Dennis Holzmann, delivered to the Caldwell County Commissioners Court on Monday, property has already changed hands in preparation for the construction.
“We have acquired four parcels, and will acquire another two today,” he said. Sedlachek reported that offers have been made on 60 properties, with fewer than 20 expected to be presented to the Texas Transportation Commission for mediation and – possibly – eminent domain proceedings.
“We all want to avoid the legal system to acquire this property,” Sedlachek said. “It’s better timewise, financially and for both [TxDOT] and the property owners if we can come to an agreement without having to go to court.”
All told, more than 300 parcels of property in Travis, Caldwell and Guadalupe Counties will be acquired by the SH 130 Concession Company as right of way for SH 130. Of those, around 200 are located in Caldwell County. Only 100 of those properties will require a relocation of some kind, Sedlachek reported.
“There are around 40 residential, 30 businesses and 25 personal property relocations that will have to be completed,” he said. “The other five are outdoor advertising relocations.”
One of those relocations has already taken place under an “early eligibility relocation program” designed for property owners who, for certain reasons, may not be able to wait and relocate on the State’s timeline.
Moving forward toward construction, Sedlachek and Holzmann committed to working not only with the Commissioners, but with the residents of Caldwell County to make both construction and transition as convenient as possible for Caldwell County residents and commuters. Additionally, the concession company hopes to build maintenance and administrative offices in Caldwell County.
In other business:
Area architect Thom Earnest approached the Commissioners with a variety of scenarios to update and expand the Caldwell County Judicial Center.
According to Earnest, three options, with several variables, are available to achieve the immediate goal of reducing external noise in the 421 st District Courtroom at the front of the Judicial Center building. Last month, District Judge Todd Blomerth asked the Commissioners to examine the possibility of soundproofing the courtroom to reduce the impact of street noise on his court’s proceedings.
Earnest’s plans include a number of solutions, including dropping the ceiling in the courtroom, building additional walls and, most radically, expanding the Judicial Center to add hallways and a law library between Blomerth’s courtroom and the street.
Before moving forward with any plan, the Commissioners asked Earnest to discuss the options with local contractors and with the City of Lockhart to determine estimates of cost on the most viable solutions.
The Commissioners will consider the proposals again next month.
In brief Court news:
Caldwell County AgriLife Extension Agent Sarah Stribling reported several area 4-H members have advanced to regional and state competitions in several areas, including Fashion Design, Photography and Team Consumer Decision-Making.
The County paid bills in the amount of $53,300.20, which includes $9,479.50 in indigent legal defense and $1,820.82 in indigent health care.
The Caldwell County Commissioners meet on the second, third and fourth Monday of each month at 9 a.m. in Room 100 of the Caldwell County Courthouse. Meetings are open to the public and residents of Caldwell County are encouraged to attend.