|San Jacinto News Times - Local News
Copyright 2013 - Polk County Publishing Company
Public hearing set on $291,000 TxDOT county road grant
COLDSPRING – San Jacinto County Judge Fritz Faulkner is in the process of trying to secure a road improvement grant in the amount of $291,048 from Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT). According to TxDOT, the county has 60 days to review plans to convert damaged roads to high-end unpaved roads in the state's energy-producing areas before proceeding with the work. During that evaluation, the department will not move forward on converting other damaged roads unless there is an immediate safety concern. To date, two roads – a threemile stretch of I-37 frontage road in Live Oak County and a portion of FM 1916 in Dimmit County – have been converted to high-end unpaved roads. Both roads suffered extensive damage from heavy oil field truck traffic. Potholes, sheared shoulders and broken pavement were replaced with a wider, smoother, safer highend unpaved driving surface. Before any financial help from TxDOT is allotted, the county must hold a hearing to get public input about the proposed creation of a County Energy Transportation Re- Investment Zone (CETRZ), according to Judge Faulkner. The hearing has been scheduled for Dec. 20. "The creation of the CETRZ is a perquisite for counties to apply for recently created County Transportation Infrastructure Fund Grant Program and applying for the grant is a continued effort on my part to help stimulate growth and economic development here in San Jacinto County," Faulkner said. The state legislature, under HB 1025 and SB 1747, just created the grant fund, and on Nov. 21, 2013 by minute order No. 113766, TxDOT created the rules for applying for the grant. "The county's award is a minimum of $291,048 t be used to help repair and improve county roads in areas affected by energy-sector activities. Once the public hearing has been held, then no sooner than 30 days thereafter, the court, if it is determined to be in the county's best interest, may hold a meeting on Jan. 22, 2014, to create the CETRZ and apply for the grant," Faulkner said. "The reason that I mentioned that the minimum award is $291,048 is because any of the other county's allocations across the State of Texas that do not apply, or do not qualify, then those county's awards will then be re-allocated and then split among the counties with successful applications, and there would be an increase in the grant award," Faulkner said. "The normal match for the grant is 20 percent, bust since San Jacinto County has been designated as an economically disadvantaged county, our match requirement is 10 percent, and according to our attorneys, we can use the money that we are already spending on our road and bridge funds to meet our 10 percent match," Faulkner said.