Weatherford Democrat

February 10, 2014

County chasing road grants

East Bankhead Highway a top priority


Weatherford Democrat

— By JUDY SHERIDAN

Parker County proceeded with plans to win state grant funding for roads damaged by oil and gas producers last week by holding a public hearing on the creation of one or more County Energy Transportation Reinvestment Zones.

Engineers also submitted 11 road projects to include in the zones, including three in Precinct No. 4: East Bankhead Highway, White Settlement Road and Clear Lake Road.

Legislators have required that counties create CETRZs in order to compete for $225 million in grants they have set aside for fiscal year 2014.

A CETRZ surrounds a planned transportation project and captures the new property taxes generated inside it, according to TxDOT.

“The CETRZ will not increase or decrease property taxes,” Judge Mark Riley said. “It will utilize taxes from the increase in value within that to go strictly for transportation projects. The money generated in the zone cannot be transferred to the General Fund or used for any other purpose.”

The grant estimated for Parker County currently is about $1.27 million Riley said, with the county ponying up about $254,000, a 20 percent match.

“There is a possibility that more money would be available to apply for, because there will be some counties that aren’t going to apply I’ve been told,” he said, “but that would come later in the process.”

Chris Bosco, of Freese and Nichols, who has worked with commissioners to prioritize county road projects, named 11 roads as candidates for the CETRZ application. The improvements — which consist of 2 inches of asphalt along the length of the roads and 8 inches of flex base on base failure areas — total $11.5 million.

“We’re submitting more than what is allocated,” Bosco said, referencing the $1.2 million estimate.

“If other counties that are eligible elect not to submit, there could be opportunity for that to go up. We want to make sure we’ve submitted well above our amount, so we don’t have to re-evaluate.”

East Bankhead Highway top priority

East Bankhead Highway, from FM Road 1187 to Ranch House Road, was listed as number one on a prioritized project list presented by Bosco. Engineers estimated the total repair cost at $1.07 million with the county paying $213,920.

White Settlement Road, from FM Road 3325 to the county line, was listed as priority number five. Repairs are estimated at $1.75 million, with the county contributing $350,860.

Clear Lake Road, from the Weatherford city limits to Airport Road, was number ten on the list, with a $452,000 price tag and the county paying $90,440.  

Other projects listed and prioritized were:

Pct 1: Veal Station Road(8), Old Springtown Road(6), Knob Road(3), Harms Drive(11).

Pct.2: Advance Road(2), Adelle Road(7).

Pct.3: Fox Road(9), Thompson Road(4).

For all but one project, the road’s right-of-way serves as the CETRZ.

“Since the Precinct 1 grounds actually are adjacent, one of the parts of the application is to include the road’s right-of-way and one parcel along the road,” Bosco said. ”We chose that the Precinct 1 grounds, the property the county already owns, be encompassed in Veal Station to meet those requirements.”

Riley said the CETRZ boundaries would be finalized at the next meeting.

Commissioners must wait 30 days after the public hearing to authorize the grant application, now due March 14. An advisory board, comprising oil and gas industry representatives and county residents, must also be appointed.

“Did you say that’s a 20 percent match?” Dusty Renfro asked after the presentation. “If that number grows on us it could be significant.”

“I don’t think we have to use all of it,” Riley replied.

 Auditor Mike Rhoten asked if the county’s matching funds could be in-kind instead of cash, with the donation of man-hours, materials or equipment, and the judge replied that he would ask the law firm hired to submit the application.

The grant can be used to pay for engineering services as well as legal fees, Bosco said.