A highway loop designed to bypass San Marcos and alleviate traffic on Interstate 35 is expected to be complete within the next few years.
The San Marcos Loop, known as FM 110, will stretch from McCarty Lane to Yarrington Road. The first portion of the loop is already complete, the second is under construction and the third is in the planning stages with the Texas Department of Transportation. The loop will connect North and South San Marcos, allowing drivers to bypass I-35.
The 1.2-mile stretch of the loop currently under construction broke ground on Nov. 15, according to the Hays County Commissioners Court website. This stretch of the loop will contain four lanes and run from McCarty Road to Highway 123. This section has limited entrance points. However, Hays County is working with TxDoT on environmental studies for additional access roads to be built, said Don Nyland, area engineer for Hays and South Travis Counties. The access roads are slated to be complete by August, Nyland said.
Mike Weaver, FM 110 project manager from Prime Strategies, Inc., said this 1 portion of the loop will provide better access to and from the airport and I-30 east.
Commissioner Debbie Ingalsbe, Precinct 1, said congestion on I-35 has always been a concern, along with the developing east side of San Marcos. Ingalsbe said she believes the San Marcos Loop will bring in economic growth to the east side of town, which is currently fields and open land.
The commissioners court has considered plans for the San Marcos Loop for three decades, Ingalsbe said. The plans started to come to fruition when San Marcos voters approved a bond in 2008 to begin construction on FM 110 in response to the new San Marcos High School on Old Bastrop Highway.
Ingalsbe said the first portion of the loop by the high school was built because of major concerns about added traffic near the building.
“With more buses and families using that road as a direct route to the high school, it became a real safety hazard,” Ingalsbe said. “We knew it needed our immediate attention.”
Hays County was in jeopardy of losing approximately $8 million in reimbursed funds because City of San Marcos officials paid for the road improvements by the high school. Hays County would have received money from TxDoT as part of a pass-through program if it had paid for this section of the loop.
According to the TxDoT website, pass-through financing was created by the state to stretch already-limited tax highway dollars and to allow local communities to fund upfront costs for constructing a highway project. The state then reimburses a portion of the project cost to the community over time by paying a fee for each vehicle that drives on the new road.
TxDoT allowed county officials to transfer the pass-through program on the stretch of land by the high school to the portion of the loop by Yarrington Bridge, which is the future ending point of FM 110.
County commissioners are looking for ways to continue work on the remaining uncompleted 11 miles of the loop, Ingalsbe said. Weaver said Prime Strategies, Inc. is helping the commissioners look at financing options, starting with buying the private land that sits where the road is planned to cross.
A total of $30,000 of the $207 million bond approved in 2008 will fund the last portion of the loop. Ingalsbe said she hopes TxDoT will approve the last part of the loop so it will be completed faster. She said if that happens, it will only take a few years to complete, rather than 10 to 20 years as previously predicted.