The Bastrop County Commissioners Court looked toward the future of transportation in the county during last Monday’s regular meeting.
Currently, the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization (CAMPO) is working on updating its long-range plan for Bastrop, Burnet, Caldwell, Hays, Travis and Williamson counties, which it updates every five years with amendments twice a year. The current plan reaches through 2040, but the new plan would reach through 2045. CAMPO’s plan considers regional growth, anticipated funding, studies and plans, public input and projects submitted by local governments. The first phase of public outreach took place this fall, and the second phase of public outreach and commenting is scheduled for early 2020. The CAMPO board is anticipated to take up the plan for consideration and adoption in April 2020.
During the court’s November 12 meeting, county planner Julia Cleary and the court discussed submissions to the plan. She said the plan is not a call for funding, but a fiscally-restrained longterm plan that asks the entities involved, such as Bastrop County, to expect to financially contribute to the projects over the next 25 years.
After the previous meeting’s discussion item, the court was ready to take action regarding CAMPO’s plan last week.
In a letter from County Judge Paul Pape to CAMPO, Bastrop County submitted four projects from its transportation plan adopted in 2016:
• Construction of a new bridge across the Colorado River connecting Shiloh Road to Lovers Lane and Tahitian Village, as well as an additional segment within Bastrop’s city limits to connect to State Highway 71, and upgrading Shiloh Road to a collector between State Highway 304 and FM 20
• Construction of a new arterial road connecting SH 71 to FM 535
• Extension of FM 1704 south of FM 969, connecting it to Colorado Drive with a new bridge across the Colorado River, and upgrading Colorado Drive to an arterial road from the bridge to SH 71
• Realign Old Lexington Road, extend it to FM 696 and upgrade it to a minor arterial to address safety and visibility concerns
Bastrop County also agreed to co-sponsor a number of projects with the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) for the portions of their projects in the county’s jurisdiction, such as widening State Highway 95 to a four-lane divided highway between Bastrop and Taylor, the letter said.
The court voted to approve the item as presented.
County receives grant for Cedar Creek park
The court accepted a grant from the St. David’s Foundation to cover the cost of additions to a park in Cedar Creek.
The grant, part of the St. David’s Foundation Parks with Purpose initiative, gives nearly three million dollars to twenty parks and programs across Central Texas, according to a press release from the St. David’s Foundation on November 15 announcing the grants. Bastrop County, which applied for the grant in order to fund improvements to the Cedar Creek park, received a total of $200,000. The improvements will include the installation of fitness equipment for $140,000, and the remaining money will be used, when combined with $29,000 already set aside by the county, for the addition of permanent restrooms.
County general services department head Shawn Harris told the court that, since the grant fully covers the cost of both projects, the county will not apply for a grant from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department for the Cedar Creek park.
Primary election early voting schedule approved
After the previous meeting’s discussion, the court approved the early voting schedule for Texas’ primary presidential election next spring.
Election day in Texas for the presidential primary is on Tuesday, March 2, with early voting spanning the last two weeks of February, starting on Tuesday, February 18. On November 12, the court and county political leaders debated various options for the county’s early voting schedule. The Bastrop County Democratic Party, represented by then-chair Cheryl Reese and vice-chair Steve Chamberlain, requested that both the main polling location in Bastrop, as well as the three other polling locations in Elgin, Smithville and Cedar Creek, open earlier and close later for several of the early voting days. However, the Bastrop County Republican Party, represented by party chair Dianna Greenwood, disagreed with this schedule, arguing that the price of such extended hours is not worth the cost since turnout in previous elections in Bastrop County have not been improved with longer hours.
The two parties and county officials settled on a compromise: all polling locations would be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on the first and last two days of early voting, and the Bastrop location would stay open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. the entire last week of early voting.
Elections administrator Kristin Miles confirmed at last week’s meeting that all polling locations would be able to stay open for the agreed-upon schedule. The court unanimously passed a motion to approve this schedule.