While from the standpoint of displacing homeowners and ultimately, for them – cheaper start-up costs (buying land) – the south was probably their preference from the beginning. Here’s a link to the text of the email Commissioner’s Valerie Covey and Cynthia Long sent out announcing their decision. After going through, again, an attempt to justify the need for this action now we get to the meat of the announcement.
After much study, we have also concluded that Highway 29 cannot be expanded on the existing road through the Liberty Hill area due to engineering and environmental issues and the exorbitant increase in the cost of the project. As a result, we have selected the southern bypass alignment from the Burnet County Line to Ronald Reagan Blvd. The selection of the southern alignment is also intended to minimize the amount of residential and business displacement in the area.
This SH 29 expansion will NOT be built until it is needed; construction would take place only when overall traffic volumes significantly increase, resulting in traffic congestion at both peak and non-peak periods. We estimate that the road would not be built for at least 15 years, depending on traffic counts and safety issues along the highway.
By working to preserve options for SH 29 today, we are able to focus on the purchase of land, rather than the purchase of land and buildings in an effort to reduce the cost to our taxpayers. We also believe that by informing people today about where the road will go in the future — at least 15 years into the future — everyone can plan better.
Notice there is no “need” for this road for at least 15 years. In the AAS Commissioner Long is saying something a little different.
Construction of Texas 29 is not expected to begin for 20 to 25 years, Long said, but the county wants to have a plan in place and land in hand before the need arises.
“We’d rather be buying dirt than buying dirt and buildings,” Long said. “Every day we wait will have an impact on more people and the bottom line.”
15, 20, 25, whatever it takes. But the AAS at least gave some time to those who live south of Liberty Hill.
The plans to expand Texas 29 through the mostly rural area has upset some residents, who don’t want a major highway through the area.
J.T. Cox, who owns land where the bypass would connect back to the current roadway, said he is “in total, 100 percent opposition” to having the highway bypass Liberty Hill and to the chosen route south of town because he thinks future growth in Liberty Hill will be to the north. He said the county would have to buy a little less than an acre of his land, and “I ain’t no willing seller.”
Cox also had this to say about the response he’s gotten from elected officials in Williamson County:
Judge Gattis: no return calls or emails
Sonny Gattis: no return calls or emails, especially when I did as instructed.
Valerie Covey: history
Cynthia Long: I’m thinking about running for her job
John Carter: can’t talk to me
State Sen. Ogden: pretty good talk from his secretary, don’t count
It’s doubtful that will surprise anyone. When faced with a tough issue most of these folks just hide and hope it goes away. That’s what happens when elected officials believe they can’t be voted out. While this deal is moving forward, it’s not done yet, and this key sentence from the AAS story shows out the only option left.
County commissioners are expected to vote on the transportation plan at the beginning of the year.
If this is to be stopped, the two incumbent commissioners on the ballot in November, (Covey and Lisa Birkman), can’t be reelected. If they’re no longer in office in January 2009 they can’t vote for it. Removing those two will show the three remaining on the court that citizens are serious, and will vote them out. So vote for Greg Windham, Mike Grimes, and Jaime Lynn in November to bring accountability back to government in Williamson County.