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Ribbon cutting marks completion of BEDC’s Agnes Street Project

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By Terry Hagerty – Contributing writer

The planned opening of Ascension Seton Neighborhood Hospital this fall will be a boon for area business development while in the future allowing nearby residents safer and easier access to downtown with the extension of Agnes Street. The $30 million, 40,000-square-foot hospital and medical campus is located on 30 acres fronting Texas 71 just east of where it intersects with Texas 304.

A ribbon cutting ceremony was held to mark completion of the BEDC's Agnes Street Project (Photos courtesy of the Bastrop Chamber of Commerce)A ribbon cutting to mark the western completion of the road – which eventually will connect State Hwy. 304 with Childers Street – and drainage infrastructure for the hospital was held by the Bastrop Chamber of Commerce last Thursday.

Mayor Connie Schroeder, the keynote speaker for the ceremony and a member of the BEDC Board of Directors, said the Agnes Street corridor “allows us to open an area for mixed-use (development), for additional commercial and for retail. Our goal is to make sure that Agnes goes from State Highway 304 all the way to Childers.” Agnes Street will be “fantastic for emergency services” access, Schroeder added. The City is working to obtain a grant to finish out the project, officials said.

Mixed-use sites available

The project was paid for by the BEDC, which is funded through one-half cent of city sales taxes. “We are charged with that taxpayer money to (do) economic development and workforce development,” Schroeder said. “Hunter’s Crossing residents will be able to use Agnes Street to travel to downtown and back without getting on Hwy. 71. We have a plan to do the same thing on the north side of 71,” Schroeder said.

The Agnes Street area will be a “magnet for (attracting) businesses. People want to live close to a hospital,” Schroeder said. The completion of Agnes Street will “allow us to open a road for mixed-use and additional commercial developments.”

Bowman Consulting of Austin designed the road and infrastructure. Charles Wirtanen, a project manager with Bowman who attended the ribbon cutting ceremony, said, “This thruway will be a big deal in (assisting) emergency services access.”

Genesis of the Project 

Seton sought assistance in solving two vexing issues in moving forward with their project: storm water drainage and transportation ingress/egress. Original plans called for onsite storm water detention. But that approach would have required Seton to use up too much of their site, officials said. The hospital site also needed an east-west connector road on the backside of the property, away from its northern border on the Hwy. 71 feeder road.

SH 304 and Agnes intersection

As a nonprofit corporation, Seton cannot accept funding directly from a government, ruling out traditional EDC incentives. It became apparent the way the EDC could provide assistance was in the EDC funding a .4-mile long extension of Agnes Street, from State Hwy. 304 to the eastern edge of the property. This would create the needed east-west connector road running along the backside of the hospital, providing side access as well. The BEDC also funded a portion of the storm water drainage system.

According to the BEDC, Seton contributed $625,000 to the drainage project for the hospital area. The BEDC, with Moran Capital, each put $250,000 into the drainage project. The BEDC also committed $950,000 to the Agnes Street project. The BEDC issued a $1.25 million bond to fund both the road and drainage projects.