Brownwood City Council members agreed Tuesday to apply for a program that would reduce the city’s share of right-of-way acquisition costs in two Texas Department of Transportation street-widening projects.
    Council members agreed to apply to TxDOT to participate in the 2017 Economic Disadvantaged Counties Program.
    Participation would reduce the city’s share of right-of-way acquisition costs from 10 percent to 2.8 percent, TxDOT design engineer Chris Graf told council members.
    Graf presented information on a possible project to widen a half-mile section of Main Street from Austin Avenue to Lipscomb Street, at the bottom of the Truman Harlow Overpass, and add a center left-turn lane. The reduced rate to the city for right-of-way participation is estimated at just over $12,000.
    Applying to participate in the reduced rate program does not obligate the city to spend any money, Graf told council members and is not a commitment to contribute funds to the project, council members were told.
    TxDOT is still gathering information from the public and has not made a decision on how it will proceed with the project — if at all.
    The second project involves adding a right turn lane in front of the CVS store on East Commerce for westbound traffic to turn north onto Clements Streets. The city would pay an estimated $3,246 for the reduced rate of right-of-way acquisition.
Main Street project
    “It’s important to note that the project is still in its very-preliminary stages,” Graf told council members. “We’re not at all done with public involvement.”
    TxDOT held a public meeting on the proposed project in July, saying adding a center left-turn lane would reduce the number of traffic collisions. But several citizens who spoke at the July meeting believed it’s a bad idea and would encroach on churches that are already close to the street.
    Graf told council members Tuesday that TxDOT has made revisions to the project based on feedback at the July meeting. There will be additional public meetings, Graf told the council.
    Bids won’t be let until January 2022 if TxDOT decides to proceed, Graf told council members.
    According to an agenda item briefing sheet:
    The project would require right-of-way acquisition from Howard Payne University, Saint Mary’s Catholic Church and four residential lots.
    TxDOT has worked with PU and Saint Mary’s, and both have given verbal support to the project.
    Initial plans indicate the parking lot at Saint Mary’s could be restripesd to not lose any parking spaces. It is anticipated that the three houses between Whaley and Gill streets would be compensated at 100 percent.

East Commerce/Clements Street project
    The right-turn-lane project would require the loss of five parking spaces in the CVS parking lot.
    The parking lot has 66 spaces, and a reduction to 57 spaces would not make the site out of compliance with city ordinances.