9 November 2007 at 8:16:17 PM
That's the headline of a commentary printed in the Oak Hill Gazette on the "Battle of FM 1826" and I think the writer, Ann Fowler did a fine job on it.
However, "The fight ain't completely over!"
I'm pasting Ms. Fowler's article for all of you to read, but first I'm going to share with you my response to the commentary, which I emailed to Ms. Fowler, Travis and Hays County Commissioners, various legislators, TxDOT Reps and local media.
Here's my response in blue and red. The Oak Hill article will follow the response:
Sorry, but the issue still remains that Hays and Travis county residents were charged twice for a simple reseal job. TxDOT must be held accountable and the money to pay for a 2nd repair should come from the contractor. TxDOT IRRESPONSIBLY signed-off on the contractor's work quickly so that it could say "What was done is done." At the end of the December meeting at the Capitol, I asked TxDOT's Bob Daigh why the agency didn't file a claim against the contractor's bond. Daigh stated emphatically, "Because it won't!" I responded, "Why not?" Answered Daigh, "Because I said so!"
[Daigh sure is an arrogant sucker, isn't he?]
I strongly recommend (as I have since last December) that Hays and Travis County Commissioners should file a formal complaint against TxDOT with the Senate Committee on Transportation to try to recover all or part of the tax dollars for the 2nd repair work!!!
The 2nd issue is that of paving the right of way in front of the home driveways of owners who need paving! It is NOT the responsibility of the homeowners to pave that small section of roadway, in this case, it is the responsibility of TxDOT because it is a state roadway! Whether TxDOT sees it that way or not, repaving the right of ways is part of the reseal job on FM 1826!
Please act on these two issues. I look forward to a responsible and intelligent response to this request re: the 2 issues.
Battle of 1826 officially over as pavers roll
|Re-paving on FM 1826 should be finished by the end of the week. –photo by Will Atkins|
Ann Fowler 09.NOV.07
Oak Hill Gazette
A year after a low cost seal coat on FM 1826 outraged residents who were subjected to a substantially noisier roadway, the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) is redoing the job, apparently to the satisfaction of the locals.
Doug Moody, one of the residents who organized meetings with officials about the roadway noise, said in an e-mail, “I have been receiving a lot of ‘thank you’ appreciation notes from several of you on the new repaving of our FM 1826. I really appreciate the pat on the back, but we all contributed a lot of time and effort on this project and the thanks goes out to every one of you. Without a group effort this adventure would never have been accomplished. Yes it is so much quieter to sit outside now and such a pleasure to drive on. We did it! And they said it couldn't be done. Well, the laugh is on TxDOT now. Don't ever give up on the power of the people.”
Last year, when the complaints began, Don Nyland of TxDOT told the Gazette, “As far as I know the material was not inferior. It is true that a two-inch hotmix asphalt overlay has more strength than a seal coat — which this was. Hot mix also runs about $7 a square yard where seal coats run around $1.70 a square yard. The city of Austin as well as counties place seal coats on roadways just like we do because of the economics. You do get problems at the intersections sometimes if there is heavy turning movements with large trucks.”
Dr. Peter Stern, area resident, said at the time, “The newly paved road is extremely bumpy and noisy. If you then drive the section in front of the main entrance of the Rim Rock development — near Darden Hill Road — you will be on a smooth and quiet stretch of road, which is exactly what the old road was before the recent repaving. In addition, most of the intersections on FM 1826 are now ‘smeared’ with the turning of heavy vehicles and have created dangerous driving conditions.”
Dr. Charles O’Dell, president of HaysCAN, said, “The sad truth is that folks at TxDOT approved a change order allowing substandard materials for a special interest road project that wasn’t necessary. They inspected and approved substandard work, they got caught, and with cooperation from elected officials they were able to escape accountability by taking committed road funds from the folks who use SH 21 in eastern Hays County precinct 2. Those of us who depend on FM 1826 may have won, but it was because of gutless public officials, and at great expense to our fellow citizens in eastern Hays County.”
Hays County Commissioner Karen Ford told the Gazette, “Last July TxDOT announced it was going to pull $2 million in safety improvements from another project in Hays County, SH 21, in order to pay for the resurfacing of FM 1826. That was a very unfortunate decision in my opinion — clearly both roadways had safety needs, and I don't like to see areas of our county pitted against each other for TxDOT safety dollars.”
O’Dell summed up the winners and losers: “SH 21 constituents clearly lost the most. FM 1826 constituents got what they wanted and deserved.”
But in December it didn’t look like those who lived along and drove FM 1826 were going to succeed in getting TxDOT to deaden the noise of the roadway. TxDOT’s Austin District Engineer Bob Daigh told a group of 40 residents in December that there was simply no money to repair the road. That didn’t silence the group, who would not remain quiet if the roadway wasn’t. In this case, the squeaky wheel did get the grease — TxDOT pulled the funds from the other Hays County project.
Said Ford, “I don't know why TxDOT finally agreed to ‘fix’ the road, but I can only assume it was a combination of things. The chip seal job clearly was problematic and failing. Many unhappy citizens in the area spoke up loudly and often — some were putting pressure at the legislative level — none were backing down.”
Nyland said of the current work, “It has not been completed yet. They are almost to FM 967. They may be complete by the end of next week.”
Stern said, “I think they are doing a great job; however, as always for whatever reason, contractors never are paid to place a center crown in our roadways, which does not permit the needed run-off during and after rainfall. We really need to start doing that in Texas to stop puddles from forming and staying on our roads, causing unnecessary accidents and fatalities.”
Stern noticed another problem that he addressed in a letter to Hays and County Commissioners, saying, “I have been noticing that the contractor is not paving the small sections at the front entranceway section of individual properties that are the right of way areas for the county/state and not owned by the property owners. I request that you review this issue with TxDOT so that this work also is completed as part of the job. To my knowledge, it is not the legal responsibility of property owners to seal that small section of their entranceway roads.”
While Stern is happy that the roadway is being repaired, he is unhappy that a year-old road repair had to be repaired. He said, “I still think it's outrageous that Hays and Travis County taxpayers had to pay twice to get FM 1826 resealed correctly. Apparently we were double-charged and no one holds TxDOT or its contractor responsible. Then we continue to hear TxDOT ‘crying in its beer’ that it doesn't have enough money to repair our roads. Add to that TxDOT’s ongoing use of our tax dollars to lobby the U.S. Congress to change the federal laws that protect all of us from being tolled on roads already paid for with our tax dollars, and the millions TxDOT uses to advertise its toll road agenda, and any intelligent person has to question what really is going on with the use of our tax dollars and the ongoing waste of government expenditures.”
For now, Ford echoes the thoughts of many along FM 1826 who are enjoying some peace and quiet: “We are glad to have the loud, rocky, bumpy, unsafe road smoothed again.” - Oak Hill Gazette
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