The New Braunfels Industrial Development Corporation OK’d covering a city funding gap for a Texas Department of Transportation project at its Thursday meeting.
The NBIDC, also known as the 4B board, voted to pay for a funding shortfall of about $200,000 for a project to improve Landa Street, including the construction of sidewalks to promote pedestrian travel.
“These local projects would promote travel by pedestrian and bicyclists, connect to planned improvements and trails, and link communities to parks, businesses and shopping,” an agenda memo reads.
In 2012, the city of New Braunfels applied for funding through TxDOT’s Transportation Enhancement Program, or TEP. The TEP provides opportunities to help expand transportation choices through funding nontraditional activities related to transportation surfaces, such as pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure and safety programs, scenic and historic highway programs, landscaping and scenic beautification, historic preservation, and environmental mitigation.
The city applied for two projects in 2012 — one to improve Landa Street and the other to improve Seguin Avenue — and received an OK for funding for the former in 2013. Part of the agreement included the city’s responsibility for all of the design cost, 20 percent of the project’s construction cost and any cost overruns. After receiving the award the city allocated $198,000 for design and $231,000 for its part of the construction.
“As the project proceeded through final design, TxDOT wanted to complete street repairs to coincide with project construction and the city absorbed the additional design costs for this effort,” the board memo says. “Final design also made it apparent the city would need to acquire right of way and related easements.”
Those additional costs for real estate acquisitions and design changes are projected to cost an additional $144,000 and the final engineer’s estimate included an extra 5 percent for a construction contingency, bringing the funding shortfall to about $198,850.
The 4B board voted 6-0 to cover the difference. Director Ashley Scott Davison was absent.
If the city had not found a way, there was a chance TxDOT would go to a different project, Stuart Hansmann, 4B board president, said. He said city staff did what they could to cover the funding gap but it became apparent their best bet was to go to the 4B board.
The city has to advance its construction match and TxDOT administration costs 60 days before TxDOT awards the project to a contractor, and that award is scheduled to be given in July, leaving a limited time frame.
Hansmann said he believes the project will benefit visitors and residents alike. It’s no secret sidewalks are lacking in New Braunfels, he said, and it made sense to provide some walkability to the city’s planned Community Recreation Center on Landa Street in Landa Plaza. The improvements will add those sidewalks to Landa Street stretching from the railroad bridge to Walnut Avenue.
“The project goes from Walnut to just before the bridge by the Wurstfest corner,” said Bryan Woods, the city’s capital programs manager. “It’ll actually connect to the existing sidewalk there by the (Knights of Columbus) Hall.”
“It will essentially connect from downtown to Walnut,” Hansmann said.
He said the city and TxDOT are looking to start the project in January, after the holidays. It’s estimated to take about six months to complete.
While the city does not have sufficient funds to cover the project’s funding gap, that’s not the case for the 4B board, which is anticipated to end the 2015-16 fiscal year with $13.85 million in fund balance, according to board documents.