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2010-01-07

Commissioners to ponder resurfacing Kyle Ranch Road

By Judith Pannebaker

A problem originally identified in 2008 resurfaced - no pun intended - during a public forum at the Wednesday, Dec. 30, special meeting of Bandera County Commissioners Court.

‘Unacceptable & unsafe’
Addressing commissioners, Medina resident George R. Vieyra reiterated statements he first made in a letter sent on Oct. 1, 2008, to Road and Bridge Superintendent John Andrade regarding the repair and paving of Kyle Ranch Road.

At that time, Vieyra, who lives on the road, which connects Highway 16 North to FM 470 in Tarpley, made a formal request for blacktopping with asphalt or chip sealing Kyle Ranch Road. Describing the road’s present condition as “unacceptable and unsafe,” he noted the road was covered with large loose rocks, uneven surfaces, dust, potholes, water runoffs and erosion trenches, which damaged private and county vehicles.

Vieyra indicated that he had spoken not only with residents, but also with a bus driver with the Medina Independent School District, who travels the route twice daily.

“He advised me that the road is dangerous and that the poor young children are bounced around with riding the school bus,” Vieyra wrote. In addition, MISD Elementary School Principal Dale Naumann apparently agreed with Vieyra that upgrading Kyle Ranch Road would “protect the children and his school buses.”

In conclusion, Vieyra noted, “The number of taxpayers and the amount we are contributing in tax dollars has significantly increased in the past few years, but we have seen zero improvements from our tax dollars in the condition of Kyle Ranch Road and, in fact, it is doing nothing but degrading.”

Vieyra also named 15 other individuals residing on the road who agreed with his assessment.

Treacherous road conditions
On Oct. 9, a local newspaper reported that an MISD school bus had slid off Kyle Ranch Road ending up in a four-foot ditch, due to treacherously wet conditions on the caliche road. In addition, it was reported that the bus driver “had swerved to miss a pothole,” initiating the chain of events.

Although no children were aboard the bus at the time of the accident, the veteran driver and school administrators were described as being “were shaken by the possibilities.”

The incident precipitated another letter from Vieyra to Andrade, which he copied to Precinct 3 Commissioner Richard Keese and Precinct 4 Commissioner Doug King, seeking support for the paving of Kyle Ranch Road for the safety of the school children and to alleviate vehicular damage.

In a letter to King on Nov. 17, Vieyra noted: “I have had positive responses from Mr. Andrade and Commissioner Keese concerning the paving of Kyle RR in the near future.”

However, since nothing had been done about the condition of the road, Vieyra and other residents of Kyle Ranch Road, Peter K. Chapman and Garry Hanson, brought their complaints to commissioners in December.

Pre-emptive public forum
“I was assured the problem would be addressed during more favorable conditions,” Vieyra told the court. “Our main concern is for the safety of the children. The issue is not on the court’s agenda so we decided to speak in the public forum as a pre-emptive strike.”

Hanson noted that since 1996, 12 additional people had moved to the area, bringing the total residents on the road to 20. According to Hanson, the road has not been maintained since the 2002 flood.

“The caliche road is deteriorating and the old cattle guards cannot sustain the traffic,” he said. He added, “The traffic has increased 10 times since 1996 and it’s becoming heavier. There’s too much traffic and (the road) is dangerous.”

Chapman read from a letter he had sent to Andrade on Nov. 13, in which he referenced the school bus accident on Kyle Ranch Road. As Chapman noted, “It is now imperative that immediate action takes place to ensure this doesn’t happen in the future. Placing the lives of children in jeopardy by inaction is inexcusable.” He felt that paving the road would reduce the potential of another accident.

Chapman also said that “with the exception of possibly a single household, every one of us who live on Kyle Ranch Road are 100 percent in favor of having this paving take place immediately.”
Paving brings problems

Donning his private citizen’s hat, County Attorney John Payne, also a resident of Kyle Ranch Road, took exception to Chapman’s assertion. Payne emphasized that a number of citizens living along the road do not want the road paved.

Referring to the bus accident, he said, “Two officers who investigated the incident determined it was not the result of the condition of the road, but rather driver action and error.”

Describing the sequence of events, Payne said as the bus driver was traveling up a grade, he concentrated on a car traveling in the opposite direction, and, to head off a possible collision, steered the bus off the road. “He did not slide off the road. He drove off the road,” Payne said.

However, Bandera County Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy Richard Smith was unavailable to explain the discrepancies regarding the cause of the October accident.

Payne went on to enumerate the myriad problems he felt would accompany a newly paved Kyle Ranch Road, including increased speeding, traffic, noise, litter and crime.

Additionally, Payne asserted, “There’s been no damage to any vehicles in six years. There are people living on the road that vehemently do not want to see Kyle Ranch Road paved.”

According to county officials, the recent record drought had halted most road construction and maintenance projects.
Commissioners will no doubt revisit the problems of Kyle Ranch Road at a future meeting.