Kyle: City Receives $1.8M Federal Grant to Help Fund Windy Hill Road Project
Featured Photo (above): Windy Hill Road in Kyle, looking east from a low water crossing. Image: Google Streets
By Edmond Ortiz
Kyle (Hays County)–The city of Kyle got word in early November of a $1.8 million award through a federal grant that will help finance reconstruction of Windy Hill Road.
The city applied for a grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to support rebuilding Windy Hill in Richmond Branch, a neighborhood in need of upgrades following two major floods in 2015 and other heavy rainfalls that have occurred since then. The city will spend $1.6 million of its own money on the project.
Road and drainage improvements will be done between 500 feet west of Cherrywood Drive and 500 feet east of Purple Martin Drive. The upgrades are meant to improve mobility between Interstate 35, Farm Road 2001, and Texas Highway 21.
The improvements also will enhance travel for nearby developments that are surrounded by low-water crossings and frequently affected by closures of Windy Hill in Richmond Branch.
The city will apply other fixes to part of Windy Hill Road: street widening, adding turn lane capacity, new safety lighting, and improved pedestrian mobility. The Texas General Land Office will disperse the federal money.
City Council on Nov. 4 passed a resolution supporting city staff negotiating an agreement with LJA Engineering, which was one of five firms to answer the city’s RFQ for project engineering services. Based in Houston, LJA has offices in Austin, Cedar Park and several other Texas cities.
Council also passed a resolution supporting city staff negotiating an agreement with Austin-based Ku & Associates to act as the HUD grant administrator for this project. Ku & Associates was one of two companies to answer the city’s RFQ here.
The Windy Hill Road improvement project will cover the street from slightly west of Cherrywood to slightly east of Purple Martin. Image: Google Streets
Kim Hilsenbeck, the city’s communications manager, told VBX that the city’s engineering staff expects to have a project design kick-off meeting later this week.
After that, city staff will have a better feel for the estimated project timeline, including when the city might solicit construction bids, Hilsenbeck said.
In a city press release, city engineer Jo Ann Garcia said residents in neighboring areas of Windy Hill, including Meadows at Kyle, Amberwood and Indian Paintbrush, will be positively affected by the improvements. She added that people living east of city limits in Hays County also will be helped by the upgrades.
Nearly half of the residents living in neighborhoods along Windy Hill earn low to moderate incomes, a key factor that helped Kyle secure the HUD funding, the news release stated.
The city was able to show that the improvements are urgently needed to bolster safety and welfare of not only motorists who use Windy Hill Road, but of area residents.
“When water on roadways closes or reroutes travelers, and when water rises to unsafe levels, that is a threat to public health, safety, and welfare,” Garcia said in the release.
“This funding will allow us to make needed improvements to that stretch of road and ultimately improve the quality of life for many of our city’s residents and those who utilize our roadways in their daily travels.”
Garcia said she expects the project to last two years as the city must coordinate efforts with Hays County and other entities. Plus, the city will need help in acquiring some land in the floodplain and nearby properties, all within the proposed work site. The city does not anticipate displacement of homes or residents because of this project.
“Being the recipient of a federal award from HUD that will improve and enhance public safety is a real win for Kyle,” Mayor Travis Mitchell said in the release.
“By collaborating with entities such as HUD, our resources can be utilized in a more cost-effective manner.”
Edmond Ortiz is a lifelong San Antonian and a 20-plus-year veteran in local journalism, He previously worked full-time at the San Antonio Express-News, and has been freelancing for outlets such as the Rivard Report.