Who will pay for water line in dis­pute


Austin American-Statesman - - THE SECOND FRONT - A Rahim Ka­mara di­rects traf­fic Mon­day for Travis County road crews who are soft­en­ing the shoul­der of El­roy Road near Cir­cuit of the Amer­i­cas. Im­prove­ments around the cir­cuit have cost $5.6 mil­lion. alberto martínez / amer­i­can-states­man Con­tact Farzad Mash

took about 45 min­utes shortly af­ter the race ended. The track took more than three hours to clear, longer than what or­ga­niz­ers had planned on. The 117,000 peo­ple at this year’s race, Manilla said, is the worst-case sce­nario.

While fu­ture events other than the Grand Prix are not ex­pected to draw nearly that many peo­ple, or­ga­niz­ers will try to get as many cars into the cir­cuit’s 17,000 park­ing spa­ces be­fore shut­tling peo­ple in, said David Greear, the county’s traf­fic pro­gram man­ager. That means fu­ture events, though less at­tended, could still clog roads in the area.

Com­pleted im­prove­ments to roads around the cir­cuit have cost $5.6 mil­lion, a bill that will ul­ti­mately be paid by the county. They in­clude repaving El­roy Road to the north and east of the cir­cuit and ex­pand­ing Kel­lam Lane as the main en­trance to the north end of the track.

County and cir­cuit of­fi­cials had pre­vi­ously agreed to widen those two roads to four lanes, but hadn’t de­cided who would pay. Now, Manilla said, of­fi­cials are pri­or­i­tiz­ing other im­prove­ments, in­clud­ing a po­ten­tial new road east of the track.

“Wi­den­ing El­roy and wi­den­ing Kel­lam were not at the top of things to do,” Manilla said.

Other pri­or­i­ties in­clude a right turn lane from south­bound El­roy to FM 812, a par­tic­u­larly clogged area on race day, and wi­den­ing FM 812 un­der Texas 130 to al­low for more lanes go­ing into and out of the track area.

“Right now, th­ese are just ideas. We don’t have fund­ing. We don’t have money. Th­ese (ideas) are just a way to pri­or­i­tize im­por­tant projects that we want to pur­sue,” Greear said.

Bike lanes or a pedes­trian-cy­clist path might also be in the works if com­mis­sion­ers ap­prove it. On race day, cy­clists were not al­lowed on roads around the track and were shut­tled into the area. Manilla said the county would push for costs to be shared among the city, county and cir­cuit.

As they plan for the fu­ture of the track, how­ever, there’s no agree­ment on who should pay more than $200,000 for an ex­panded water line in the area.

Staffers are rec­om­mend­ing that county com­mis­sion­ers not re­im­burse the cir­cuit the $205,345 it spent to put in a larger water line un­der Kel­lam Road. Austin’s water util­ity had said the ex­ist­ing 6-inch line could not with­stand the new road.

“We told the city if you want to up­grade your (water) line, it’s your nickel. Well, the city didn’t feel that way and told COTA you, Mr. De­vel­oper, have to pay for it,” Manilla said. “And now, COTA wants us to pay for it.”

The city’s water util­ity said they fa­vored an even wider water line than what was in­stalled, but cir­cuit of­fi­cials did not go through the city’s process to in­stall it, util­ity spokesman Ja­son Hill said.

County com­mis­sion­ers will con­sider th­ese and other changes to their orig­i­nal con­tract with Cir­cuit of the Amer­i­cas in Tues­day’s 9 a.m. meet­ing at 700 Lavaca St. months ago, Mary­wood stopped plac­ing fos­ter chil­dren for the De­part­ment of Fam­ily and Pro­tec­tive Ser­vices be­cause of new rules that would not al­low the non­profit to di­rectly match chil­dren and fam­i­lies, Budde said. And although Mary­wood had been work­ing with eight fam­i­lies ready to adopt, the agency had no in­fants with which to match them.

“They really in good con­science could not say to the par­ents wait, wait, wait, wait,” Budde said.

Ted Scar­damalia, who served on the Mary­wood board of direc­tors for more than a decade and left in the 1990s, said he was sad­dened by the im­pend­ing clo­sure. His fond mem­o­ries of the char­ity, from which he per­son­ally fos­tered 12 chil­dren, in­clude the adop­tion cer­e­monies for new fam­i­lies. And he was al­ways im­pressed with the com­mit­ment of Mary­wood’s staff, he said.

“They were a first-class or­ga­ni­za­tion,” he said. “You couldn’t have found a group of peo­ple who cared more about what they were do­ing.” elec­tion process, we can re­move or re­in­state those who sup­port the views of the com­mu­nity,” Carl­ton said. “No one knows where the school board stands be­cause it was never brought be­fore them and I think that’s a prob­lem.”

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