Bridge causes stir at City Council meeting
Monday, 04 March 2013 by Matthew Girard
A proposed bridge caused a stir at the Belton City Council meeting Tuesday night at the Harris Community Center.
The Council was asked to consider a resolution authorizing the execution of an Advance Funding Agreement with the Texas Department of Transportation for participation in an Off-System Bridge Replacement project for the Toll Bridge Road bridge at the Lampasas River.
The resolution also called for the City's cost share of $300,000 associated with the project.
In Feb. 2006, the original bridge across the Lampasas River collapsed, leaving a gap in the road parallel to Interstate 35 along the west side.
The bridge is eligible for replacement through TxDOT.
Although the $1.5 million project would cost Belton just $300,000 in matching funds and would also allow for the Connell Street drainage improvement project, several property owners along Toll Bridge Road strongly opposed the re-building of the bridge.
"We feel it will be detrimental to the safety and well being of the property owners along Toll Bridge Road," said one property owner, who also delivered a written petition signed by 98 percent of the property owners to the Council. "We believe that the Belton City Council is acting against the wishes of the property owners in putting a bridge over the Lampasas River.
"It will limit access owners' properties near the bridge site"
Along with access issues, several property owners expressed concerns about the amount of increased traffic.
Councilmember David K. Leigh said the Council's job was to make sure that all citizens traveling through Belton are safe.
"This is a tough situation," Leigh said. "I grew up on a farm and we didn't like outsiders coming in and telling us what to do, but the ironic thing is that it's the outsiders that are going up and down 35 that forced a lot of these issues.
"If somebody dies because you can't get somewhere, then who's fault is that? The reality is, is that the City has to plan for the welfare of the citizens both outside of our county and inside of our county. Part of that is you have to be able to have access North to South. You don't have that on 35. If it's shutdown, there is really no easy way to get out there."
During the discussion before the vote, a member of the audience was asked to be removed by the Council after he continued to speak out of turn.
The Council then voted 7-0 to make the commitment to the project.
In other business, the Council authorized the Belton Economic Development Corporation to execute a contract with Big Diamond Inc., for the purchase of property in the Belton Business Park.
The Council also approved the naming of a 1.46 acre lot in the Wright Addition at 905 Carla Kay Drive, to Carla Kay Park.