KTMPO gives nod to fund widening US. 190 bypass
By LYNETTE SOWELL
The U.S. Highway 190 bypass expansion from two lanes to four around Copperas Cove is now one step closer to becoming a reality, after a Dec. 12 meeting of the Transportation Planning Policy Board of the Killeen Temple Metropolitan Planning Organization.
Of the top five projects prioritized for funding by KTMPO’s TPPB, two are for Copperas Cove, the U.S. 190 bypass widening and railroad underpass projects on F.M. 116.
During that December meeting, the TPPB allocated Category 2, 7, and 9 transportation funding for 2021-2028 transportation projects throughout the region.
Expanding the U.S. 190 bypass from two lanes to four was one of several projects proposed by Copperas Cove to KTMPO last year and the city has submitted the widening of U.S. 190 as the top priority project to the planning organization ever since the two lanes of the south bypass opened in 2015.
According to the proposal, the two additional lanes will go from “east of Copperas Cove to 0.5 miles west of the Lampasas County line.”
The U.S. 190 widening has an estimated $48.1 million price tag and will be paid for with federal and state transportation funds, 80 and 20 percent, respectively.
On Aug. 21, 2018, the Copperas Cove city council approved a resolution which designated the U.S. 190 bypass, as well as the F.M. 116 railroad underpass and bike-pedestrian paths, as the city’s priority projects for consideration.
Other projects on the list included F.M. 1113 sidewalks, a “Northside Loop”, Big Divide Loop, and phase 2 of the Business 190 medians.
At this point, the City of Copperas Cove has not discussed any local contributions with the Texas Department of Transportation for the proposed project, said interim city manager Ryan Haverlah.
The bypass expansion has an estimated bid letting date of 2021.
Mayor Pro Tem and Place 3 councilman Dan Yancey sees the action of the TPPB as positive news for Copperas Cove and the region.
“Though construction won’t actually begin for several years, the fact that the region recognizes the priority importance of expanding Interstate 14 speaks well of the region and Copperas Cove in particular,” said Yancey.
KTMPO is the same organization which approved the allocation of $10 million in federal and state transportation funds for the hotly debated phase 1 of the Business 190 medians. The transportation planning policy board is made up of reps from area cities, as well as Bell, Coryell, and Lampasas Counties, and the Texas Department of Transportation’s Waco and Brownwood districts, and two ex-officio members, one from the Federal Highway Administration and one from Fort Hood.
This next step forward on widening the highway from two to four lanes literally and figuratively paves the way for Interstate 14 to continue beyond Copperas Cove.
In April 2017, Interstate 14 signs were installed and celebrated at an unveiling ceremony held at Central Texas College, attended by local and state reps, as well as representatives from Fort Hood.
At that time, Mayor Frank Seffrood spoke about what the I-14 designation meant to Copperas Cove.
“With Interstate 14 in its present configuration, we (Copperas Cove) are the terminus, and we don’t want to be. We want to put all our efforts into getting the extra two lanes on the bypass,” Seffrood said. “Companies that want to relocate to this area, one of the first things they do is look at transportation, and having the interstate designation and having interstate quality transportation will make it more lucrative for Copperas Cove.”
Back in January 2017, the Texas Transportation Commission approved the designation of a 25-mile segment of the state highway system as Interstate 14, the first segment of I-14 designated in Texas. The stretch of highway runs jointly with U.S. 190 from its intersection with Interstate 35 in Belton and extends west, with the terminus for I-14 being the east side of Copperas Cove.
On Dec. 4, 2015, a five-year federal transportation bill was signed into law that created the congressional designated Texas highway corridor, which begins in West Texas and follows U.S. Highway 190 through Killeen, Belton, Bryan-College Station, Huntsville, Livingston, Woodville and Jasper before terminating on State Highway 63 at the Sabine River.
The Strategic Highway Coalition worked for more than a decade in support of Texas highway improvements, the “Forts to Ports” initiative to improve access between major U.S. Army installations at Fort Bliss, Fort Hood and Fort Polk and the Texas strategic deployment seaports that support them, the Port of Corpus Christi and the Port of Beaumont.