County gets nearly $1 million discount on road projects

Posted 10/15/19

Madison County will save nearly $1 million on the widening of State Highway 21 and the planned southern loop around the city, thanks to a declaration by the Texas Transportation Committee that the county qualifies under the agency’s Economically Disadvantaged County Program.

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County gets nearly $1 million discount on road projects

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Madison County will save nearly $1 million on the widening of State Highway 21 and the planned southern loop around the city, thanks to a declaration by the Texas Transportation Committee that the county qualifies under the agency’s Economically Disadvantaged County Program.

The declaration reduces the county’s financial responsibility in acquiring property along the projects, also known as right-of-way. Texas counties normally pay for 10% of right-of-way acquisition costs, but the TTC reduced Madison County’s share for all fiscal year 2020 projects by 61%, leaving the county with a 3.9% effective rate.

“Our cost share (to the projects) dropped dramatically. Really, really dramatically,” County Judge Tony Leago told commissioners.

The declaration was announced Tuesday at the Madison County Commissioners’ Court, meeting on a rare Tuesday because of the Columbus Day holiday.

Leago gave the rough estimate of the county saving almost a million dollars for the two big projects slated in coming months.

The county has already seen the benefit in action, as commissioners approved Tuesday to distribute the funds for a right-of-way acquisition for a bridge replacement on SH 21 at the Trinity River, where the county abuts Houston County.

Instead of the $5,462 Madison County would have paid under the old structure, it fulfilled it’s financial share for around $2,100.

The planned widening of Highway 21 from the Navasota River to just Trinity St. is a priority project for the Texas Department of Transportation. The construction is slated to begin in 2021.

TxDOT also has plans to build a loop around the south side of the city – from FM 1452, circling around to rejoin 21 400-500 yards past Buc-Ee’s -- but that project will not begin until after completion of the Highway 21 project, or around 2025.

TxDOT will hold a public meeting Nov. 12 at the Truman Kimbro Convention Center in Madisonville to get public input on the southern relief route.

According to a legal notice this week from TxDOT, the proposed project would provide two 12-foot wide travel lanes in each direction separated by a grassy median.

Travel lanes would be bounded by four-foot wide inside and 10-foot wide outside shoulders, creating a proposed right-of-way along the route between 250 and 500 feet wide.

The loop would have ramps to access SH 90 and SH75, and a new bridge over Interstate 45.

In other moves Tuesday, commissioners tabled a review of county employees’ compensation scale. Commissioners have pushed back on salary range increases in past meetings. The passing of the 2020 budget was nearly delayed over a similar, but separate, issue.

Leago pointed out Tuesday that efforts to cap compensation scales in the county would create a situation where one employee’s salary would actually burst through the scale for her current position.

“If we’re going to cap the scales, we’re going to have to create a whole new category for her,” Leago said.

The matter was tabled until County Auditor Toni Joyner, absent from Tuesday’s meeting, would be in attendance to provide further detail and explanation.

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