Federal regulations further delay 1604 improvements

Environmental impact studies must be redone

Author: John Honore, Meteorologist, jhonore@ksat.com
Published On: Feb 15 2013 04:20:15 PM CST   Updated On: Feb 15 2013 06:38:36 PM CST

When local officials decided to not toll improvements to loop 1604 between Bandera and Potranco roads, that prompted federal officials to step in and demand a brand new environmental impact study for the rest of the improvement project that extends eastward all the way to Interstate 35.

"If you've got federal funds involved, you've got to do what the Federal Highway Administration says. You've got to follow the federal law," said Alamo Regional Mobility Authority spokesman Leroy Alloway.

That's despite the fact that environmental studies have already been completed for both sections.

Federal rules dictate that if there is a change to the project -- as in this case: changing one section to non-toll -- a new EIS must be performed.

"We were ... a few weeks a way from going to a public hearing and getting everything cleared. That been delayed as well," said Alloway.

Alloway estimates it will be late 2016 at the earliest before the first shovel of dirt can be turned on any future improvements to North Loop 1604.

That has local motorists fuming.

"Doing another environmental study and slowing down this process is insane. It is! It needs to be done. Look at the traffic!" said local resident Nick Young.

"That's totally outrageous because we already spent the money to get the studies done. Why can't they just consolidate the information they already have?" asked Bill Chavers, a real estate agent who does a lot of business in the area.

"They're going to find some tiny little bug and they're going to say 'Oh! Oh! You cant do this!' No. No. No. Build it. Get it done. Get it over with. Give us our roads back," said Young.

Despite the frustrations of motorists, Alloway estimates it will be about 2019 or 2020 before improvements will be completed.