Highway 290 Improvements

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More talks about transportation needs in our area. This time in Washington County.

The city of Brenham and Washington County Commissioners are working together on improvements for Highway 290.

"Bottom line, we have two choices. We do nothing or we move forward with paid engineers to see exactly what it is going to cost and what negotiations can we do with Austin and TxDot," said County Judge Dorothy Morgan.

Washington County Commissioners and Brenham city council members chose the latter. They will split the $75,000 cost for Pate Transportation Partners out of Houston to outline the scope of a Highway 290 improvement project.

In doing so, they're taking advantage of "pass-through financing," a law which allows local governments to foot the bill for highway construction projects and get reimbursed by the state later.

The portion of Highway 290 being considered is between FM 389 and FM 577. The plan could include grade separations, new entrances and exits and conversion to one way frontage roads.

"That area that we're talking about has had traffic deaths. It has had such congestion that our locals as well as our visitors can't get around it," said Judge Morgan.

"Clearly we have major issues on US 290. We have two way frontage roads, we have a lot of turning movement at major intersections like Highway 36 and 290. People sitting through lights two and three cycles," said City Manager, Terry Roberts.

Officials also anticipate future business growth in the area.

The projects is expected to cost upward of $30 million, but the price tag is always subject to change.

Ideally the city and county would like to be reimbursed between 90 and 100% of the project but that will all depend on negotiations with the state.

If and when an agreement with TxDOT is reached, the city and county could decide to create a local government corporation to assist with the development of transportation improvements.

In other council news, the council is expected to approve an ordinance banning skate boarding in certain parts of town. The ordinance was discussed at a meeting on Thursday, but was tabled until there is clarification conerning bicycles.

Skate boarding would be off limits at Hohlt and Fireman's Park and the downtown area. City officials say they've received numerous complaints about skate boarders endangering people and damaging property.

If approved, the ordinance will take effective after its second reading before the council.