County commissioners unanimously approved a contribution of up to $5 million to connect FM 1626 to the MoPac Expressway at State Highway 45 and expand it to a four-lane toll road.
Members of the Hays County Commissioners Court signed an interlocal agreement in their March 25 meeting that defined the financial terms for the shared cost between Travis County and the Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority (CTRMA), according to a Hays County press release.
Commissioner Will Conley, Precinct 3, said Hays County will pay $5 million with $500,000 due June 30 of this fiscal year. Travis County will pay $15 million with $2.5 million due the same day. The remainder of the cost will be assumed by CTRMA, which will retrieve the costs from tolls.
Conley said the project is important for the county’s transportation system and is excited to begin progress on the road.
Funds paid by the two counties will go solely toward the construction of the main road, said Hays County Judge Bert Cobb.
“I don’t want that money to get spent on something we don’t need,” Cobb said.
Commissioner Mark Jones, Precinct 2, said there is no way around making the highway a toll road.
The road was originally designed to be a two-lane county road. It will be changed into a four-lane, divided toll road because of environmental standards and the growing number of vehicles traveling on it, according to the press release. Because of the cost of the four lanes, the only way to build it is by making it a toll road, according to the release.
“If there was any other way but a toll road, we would do it,” Jones said. “However, that is not an option at this time.”
Jones said he is ready to begin the project and has been working to get it started since 1983.
The new connection between FM 1626 and MoPac will reduce travel time as well as congestion, Cobb said.
Some local residents agree that the connection will be beneficial once completed.
Thomas Hicks, a resident of Hays County who works in Travis County, said the project will be an “excellent use of the money.”
“It will not only clear up the route, but will also mean for a faster commute,” Hicks said.
However, not all residents agree.
Lisa Hicks, Hays County resident and Thomas Hicks’ wife, said she would prefer to not have another toll road in the area but thinks it will still be beneficial.
“I won’t be using the highway as much as my husband, but I think it will be a better thing for the long run,” Lisa Hicks said.