New Braunfels Herald Zeitung (Newspaper) - April 7, 2000, New Braunfels, Texas
Leap of faith
Traffic relief in works for Texas 46
K. JESSIE SLATEN/Herald-Zeitung
New Braunfels Middle School student Chris Thayer hit the boards just right on his long jumps, taking first place in the event Thursday afternoon at New Braunfels High School. The New Braunfels varsity squad along with Canyon and Smithson Valley high schools will compete in Unicom Relays 3 p.m. today.Herald-Zei
rj hOo$ J-r SHW 03^ .....
... " o
Vol. 149 No. IOO 20 pages in 2 sections April 7, 2000 t-* -r ^ r Serving Comal County since 1852 50 cents
Employers urged to invest in child-care
By Heather Todd Staff Writer
By Heather Todd
BULVERDE — Relief might be in sight for motorists and parents who face daily congestion on Texas 46 near Bill Brown Elementary School.
Engineers with Pape-Dawson, who are working on the new Bulverde H-E-B, are collaborating with Comal school district officials and the Texas Department of Transportation to find ways to decrease traffic congestion and improve traffic control on Tiaras 46 when the new store opens.
The new 62,000 H-E-B store is slated to open this fall on Texas 46. Bill Brown Elementary School is across the street from the store.
The new store will include a drive-through pharmacy, a bakery and deli, photo processing and a floral department.
The new development raised some concerns among residents and school officials about traffic in an area that already is highly congested in the mornings and afternoons.
Greg Malatek, area engineer with the New Braunfels TxDOT office, said engineers with Pape-Dawson were conducting a signal study to determine whether the intersection at the store’s driveway and the school’s far west entrance could warrant a light.
He said TxDOT then would verify the numbers before approving installation of the light.
Developers for the H-E-B project propose funding both the traffic signal light and acceleration and deceleration lanes near the store as recommended by TxDOT.
Greg Flores, H-E-B Manager of Public Affairs, said H-E-B typically looked at traffic and environmental concerns when beginning new developments.
“We understand the needs of the community,” Flores said. “We like to make sure issues like traffic are addressed now before it does get congested.”
But, Malatek said the school district would have to make improvements to the school’s driveways in order for the light to become a reality
Roy Linnartz, a former employee and now consultant for CISD, said Pape-Dawson engineers proposed two scenarios to reduce traffic congestion.
Bill Brown Elementary currently has four entrance and exit driveways.
On the campus’s east side, a bus driveway leads to the back of the campus. The campus also has an entrance to the parent/staff parking lot and an exit from the parking lot onto Texas 46. On the far west side is the bus loop exit.
Linnartz said both scenarios called for closing the exit from the parent-teacher parking lot and creating a new, main driveway on the campus’s far west side. That would re-route parent and bus traffic to the proposed traffic light.
Linnartz also said rerouting all bus and parent traffic to the lighted intersection was the safest way to control traffic.
School officials said cars are backed up on Texas 46 in the mornings and afternoons.
“The highway department built a shoulder on Texas 46 for that, but it’s still not the safest situation,” Linnartz said.
The goal of the proposed improvements was to get car traffic onto school property and off Texas 46.
Under the first scenario, buses would continue to pick up students at the back of the campus and exit
K. JESSIE SLATEN/Herald-Zeitung
Traffic on Highway 46 makes picking up students from EJ Brown Elementary a daily adventure for some parents.
from the fourth driveway, where the proposed light will be. Parents would pick up students at the front of the school through the second driveway and also exit from the lighted intersection.
Linnartz said an existing paved driveway connecting the front parking lot with the fourth driveway would have to be widened to handle the increased traffic.
Linnartz and Ken Franklin, CISD transportation director, said they favored scenario No. 2, which would re-route buses to the front of theSee TRAFFIC/12A
The conflict between work and family life has been costly for both working parents and American businesses.
• The Child Care Action Campaign reported American businesses lost $3 billion annually because of employee absences for child-related reasons.
• Absenteeism for personal problems costs businesses more than $1.7 billion annually.
• Workday interruptions for employee caregivers cost employers $4 billion in lost productivity.
Based on those figures, officials with Alamo Workforce Development, Inc. and other local family service agencies urged about 30 employers Thursday to invest in child care benef its today to reap long-term benefits.
Rebecca Ramos with Family Services Association used an analogy of buying a # new car.
“When you’re buying a car, you decide what you want and you do research and look on the Internet. You go around to different dealerships to see where you can get the best deal because you’re spending money, and it’s a long-term investment,” Ramos said. “You need to look at child care the same way for employees.”
Tracy Wolff, chairman of the AWD’s child care committee, said, “Children are going to be the workforce of the future. Good child care today can ensure a better educated workforce for tomorrow.”
The Alamo Workforce Development,See CHILD/5 A
Rate hikes imminent for Garden Ridge water bills
By Ron Maloney Staff Writer
GARDEN RIDGE — Recent rains haven’t done enough to alleviate water concerns here, and city officials took action Wednesday to head off a foreseeable water crisis this spring and summer.
That action will mean increased water bills for Garden Ridge water customers.
Garden Ridge City Council unanimously voted to continue Stage 3 water restrictions and approved requests to buy and lease an additional 118 acre feet of water from the Regional Water Resource Development Group for $63,000.
To pay for it, council voted to pass the costs on to the 800 users of Garden Ridge municipal water.
“We’ve got to raise our water rates to get the money,” Mayor Jay Feibelman said Thursday.
A resident of Garden Ridge will see an increase of 50 cents on a water bill for minimum usage, raising the rate to $18 for up to 15,000 gallons. For customers outside Garden Ridge, the rate will rise to $33.
The difference, Feibelman said, is because
The City of Garden Ridge reminds residents of watering restrictions.
users outside Garden Ridge — about 75 of the total customer base — don’t pay city taxes.
Users of more than 15,000 gallons will see an increase over the current rate of 90 cents for every 1,000 gallons used over 15,000, Feibelman said.
This past year, Garden Ridge used about 600-acre feet of water, Feibelman said. An acre
foot, the equivalent of covering one acre of land with water a foot deep, is about 326,000 gallons. This year, water consumption is about on track with last year’s usage, Garden Ridge public works officials report.
“If we used 600 acre feet this past year, and we’re expecting a dry year. We’ve got to get more,” Feibelman said.
Council agreed to buy 75 acre feet of water at $800 per acre foot and lease43 acre feet at about $70 per acre foot. A water buy locks in the amount of Vvater and the purchase price. Lease prices and allocations are not locked in and could change with demand and market conditions.
Price could rise with demand if dry conditions continue, Feibelman said, and allocations could be reduced.
“It’s much like the stock market,” Feibelman explained.
• The third part of Garden Ridge’s effort to meet its water challenge is the continuation of Stage 3 water restrictions.
Under Stage 3 conservation measures, sprinkler systems can be operated only one day each
Key Code 76
Government predicts lower gas prices this summer
WASHINGTON (AP) — Gasoline prices should peak this month and decline to an average of $ 1.46 a gallon for the summer, the government said Thursday, revising dramatically its previous expectations of soaring fuel prices going into the vacation season.
While the forecast dampened the prospect of $2 per gallon of regular grade gasoline even in high-price areas, as once feared, motorists still will be paying about 25 percent more for gasoline this summer than last year, the forecast said.
It said the average family, traveling 12,000 miles from April through September, is likely to pay $ 170 more for fuel this year than last
The Energy Department said Thursday its revised forecast, taking into account the additional oil production announced by world producers last month, shows the average price nationwide peaking at $1.52 a gallon this month and then declining.
Gasoline prices already have dropped a bit in some places. The forecast estimates prices averaging $1.39 a gallon after Labor Day. Still, officials warned that the estimates are national averages and in some areas prices are likely to be higher.
Average gasoline prices in California in March, for example, have been 26 cents a
gallon higher than the national average, with the disparity expected to continue into the summer, the report said.
The latest analysis by the Energy Information Administration was in sharp contrast to its forecast a month ago when the agency said that even with increased oil production, gasoline prices were expected to soar to a national average of $ LSO a gallon. That prompted widespread fear of $2 per gallon gas just when millions of Americans hit the road for summer vacations.
The turn of events was welcomed by motorists.See GAS/12AWhat’s Up
■ April: Average price nationwide likely will peak at $1.52 a gallon
Average $1.46 a gallon
■ After Labor Day: Average $1.39 a gallon
Source: Energy Departmenl