Hwy 46 victory at Bulverde City Council….AGAIN!

Kudos to the Bulverde City Council for once again showing some backbone to TxDOT. The article below shows TxDOT’s position is unchanged, so the decision really didn’t need to be revisited. Their position toward the Council is: “Just give us the money, sit down, and muzzle it. Then go jump in Canyon Lake. You get NO SAY in this project.” Now we need to help the Council get the improvements needed on Hwy 46 in a way that’s in keeping with the Master Plan (maintaining the small town feel), increases safety, and that the public can trust.

Mr. Parker needs to consider that the same reasons TxDOT’s Malatek gives for why Hwy 46 cannot be tolled or become a truck route apply to 281. It, too, has topography challenges and multiple driveways loading onto the highway, and yet they found a way for trucks to traverse it just fine AND they’re tolling it (unless the citizens stop it). Never trust what a bureaucrat whose job depends on your cooperation tells you, especially when it’s not in writing and when another spokeswoman in this very article states the opposite to be true. TxDOT is not willing to work with the Council, period.

Texas 46 hits a roadblock
By Jessica Sanders
The Herald-Zeitung
August 9, 2006

A proposal to widen Texas 46 got a second look but not a second chance at Bulverde City Council’s meeting Tuesday night. With a 3 to 2 vote, the council narrowly rejected an agenda item to reconsider the Texas Department of Transportation’s proposed expansion.

Mayor Pro Tem Richard Parker and Councilwoman Pam Cole voted to reconsider the project. On July 25, the council rejected a proposal to expand Texas 46 from two to six lanes, but Parker asked that it be brought back to the agenda.

Councilwoman Robin Urbanovsky said she was not opposed to the improvements, but to TxDOT’s unwillingness to negotiate. The city had asked for changes, including six lanes instead of eight and removal of truck turn-arounds. “I want improvements to 46, but I do not want to be intimidated,” Urbanovsky said.

During the July 25 meeting, TxDOT area engineer Greg Malatek said the department would not guarantee that the city’s requests would be granted. He said TxDOT would build the road according to the department’s studies and specifications.

On Tuesday, a TxDOT spokeswoman said the department’s position had not changed. Parker, who first voted against the expansions July 25, said he asked that the item be reconsidered because of new information he had uncovered.

“One sticking point was the concern that 46 would become a truck and hazardous cargo route around San Antonio,” he said. “I did some investigations on my own and found that the topography of the road is not conducive to that, with two lanes or four.”

Also, Parker said he met with Malatek and was convinced that TxDOT would work with the city to meet their requests. Mayor Sarah Stevick said she would have asked for the item to be reconsidered if Parker had not.

She said he was deluged with phone calls from people who were upset after the expansions were rejected. However, only one resident spoke in favor of the expansions Tuesday night.

Resident Calvin Kempin said he believed the item was being reconsidered because of pressure by the county. Comal County and New Braunfels have already approved expansions east of the Sun Valley Drive intersection.

“Maybe you’re reconsidering because the county said, ‘you will reconsider,’” he told council. “TxDOT doesn’t want your input. They want your money.”

Resident and former Mayor Pro Tem Michael Sorbera said the city will pay more only if the project is put off. “Someday we’ll have to widen 46. We’ll have to,” he said. “Right now, we can have it done for a pittance. X years down the road it will only get more expensive, with the rising price of oil and construction.”

The expansions, as part of TxDOT’s deal with the county, would have cost Bulverde $790,000 over seven years. Stevick said it would have increased taxes by about 2.5 cents.

Councilman Mark Mobley, who was absent from the July 25 meeting, said the decision had already been made and should not be revisited.

“I don’t like to flip-flop on issues,” he said. “If there was some new data, I might be open to reconsidering.”