Council approves proceeding with Business 190 medians
By LYNETTE SOWELL
Before a standing-room-only crowed, the Copperas Cove city council approved a resolution on Tuesday evening to continue forward with the Business 190 median project.
The council members held lengthy discussions before passing one of two resolutions for the project. The first resolution failed, which would have essentially “killed” the project.
Councilmembers David Morris, Dan Yancey, Kirby Lack, and Marc Payne voted for approving the project to go forward, with James Pierce Jr., Jay Manning, Charlie Youngs voting against it.
Councilman Jay Manning weighed in on his reasons for not wanting to go forward with the project and calling for a decision on Tuesday.
“This decision I’m making is what I’ve come to after 13 months of agony, in studying and numerous miles traveled,” Manning said. “But when I asked to have this put on the agenda in August so we either vote it up or down, because it’s been dragging on a long time. It was because of the emotions…There’s a lot of emotions in this and it’s consuming some of you. It’s consuming us too. So I feel like there’s a point where it has to be brought to an end.”
Place 2 councilman James Pierce Jr. has been one of the most vocal opponents to the project.
“I would like to remind people that I was a leader in the Army for over two decades. Sometimes you make decisions that people don’t agree with but that’s part of being a leader. That’s what we do,” he said. “I got elected three years ago. I have to clarify this is not based on me trying to continue to serve after November. This has been part of me for a long time.”
Pierce repeated his concern for with safety, even retaining the three lanes in each direction, with those lanes being narrowed along with the risk of U-turns.
Charlie Youngs didn’t believe safety was as big of a concern on Business 190 by looking at the numbers.
“We were told not long ago that in this stretch from Avenue D to Constitution, there were, 6,254,300 cars in 2017, with 65 fender benders. I don’t know what kind of percentage that is, but it’s pretty small.”
Councilman Kirby Lack stuck to his guns about there being safety issues on Business 190, also where pedestrians and disabled are concerned and said the city needs to look ahead.
“We have to look at the future of Copperas Cove. It’s better now with Highway 9,” he said. “If we don’t do anything else, to not lose any lanes, but to get a sidewalk out there…We have some sidewalks. There’s not a continuous sidewalk that takes you all the way to HEB. I saw a man pushing another man in a wheelchair, and a woman with a stroller behind him in the gutter, in front of Walmart, headed to HEB, apparently.
“65 is a small number in comparison unless it’s one of your kinfolk. Then that 65 becomes a real number. This is strictly safety. I don’t want to lose three lanes.”
Place 6 councilman Marc Payne talked about looking to the future for Copperas Cove.
“Someone had to look and say, We’ve got to look into the future and make some changes. You don’t look into the future when you need it, you need to look into the future ahead of time,” Payne said. “There’s a lot that goes into the decision, and I hope you respect that, the amount of difficulty that’s involved…there’s so much misinformation that is still out there.”
Dan Yancey reiterated being in favor of the project.
“My question is, what is it that we want for Copperas Cove? We’re in a fairly short window of time when our city’s history can be determined for the foreseeable future,” he said, pointing to key decisions that the council must make, such as hiring a city manager, the hiring of a new EDC director, and more.
“We need to take all that as a city for the long haul, not a knee jerk reaction to short term.”
Interim City Manager Ryan Haverlah has already submitted an alternative to the original project to the Killeen Temple Metropolitan Planning Organization, with KTMPO holding a public comment period on the proposed changes which closes tomorrow.
KTMPO’s policy board will be meeting on October 24 to review the public comments received during the comment period on the amendments, which includes phase 1 of the Business 190 project.
On Tuesday evening, Haverlah informed the council that the report from the May 31 TxDOT public meeting held about the project would not be available until November, and that approximately 600 comments had been received during that comment period. Haverlah said the report the council will receive will include summaries of the comments along with responses. As far as those comments were concerned, Haverlah said the largest majority were about the reduction of lanes, which is why he brought a compromise to the original project to retain the three lanes of traffic in each direction.
The council also passed by 4-3 vote, an amendment to an agreement with BSP Engineers for an additional $72,000 which goes toward essentially going back to the drawing board on the project, leaving the three eastbound and westbound lanes in place instead of reducing the lanes. The approval is contingent upon KTMPO’s approval of the proposed changes. The funds are available to cover the amendment, said Haverlah, and come from the certificate of obligation bond as approved by the council, out of the total $1,000,000 to be issued for project design.