KTMPO holds forum on area transportation improvement plan

Cove Leader-Press 

Representatives with the Killeen Temple Metropolitan Planning Organization held a public forum at the Copperas Cove Police Department on Tuesday. 
The forum was part of a 30-day comment period on KTMPO’s draft of its four-year Transportation Improvement Plan, or TIP. 
Kendra Coufal, Senior Planner with KTMPO, and John Weber, a KTMPO regional planner, were on hand to provide information, which included maps that encompassed the entire KTMPO region, with local projects highlighted along with copies of the draft of TIP. 
A hands-on activity allowed participants to take $10 in play money and distribute each dollar into a series of small containers labeled with priorities to consider in planning such as Transit investments, Bicycles/Pedestrians, Roadway Safety, Congestion Relief, and Increase Connectivity. 
Along with copies of the plan, the KTMPO reps had comment forms which attendees could complete and submit on site.
About eight residents attended the forum, which took a twist when questions and comments arose concerning the proposed $10 million raised median which is currently in the design stages for Business 190 and is part of the four-year KTMPO transportation plan. They also had comments and questions about the recently completed Avenue D sidewalk project. 
One of the comments and concerns brought up was communication from the city and other entities about public meetings such as the one held on Tuesday, and other meetings concerning the median. 
Coufal did say that the Texas Department of Transportation is heading up the median project and that TxDOT representatives will be holding a meeting on May 31 in Copperas Cove about the project. The meeting is scheduled to begin at 5:30 p.m. at the Copperas Cove Civic Center. 
Interim City Manager Ryan Haverlah said that after the KTMPO representatives presented their information, he would be willing to discuss concerns about the median and entertain questions. 
“(KTMPO) came here with very specific purpose, to receive comments on these projects,” Haverlah said, encouraging residents to share their written comments, and to also share their priorities with the representatives. 
First up were several questions about the Avenue D sidewalk project. Haverlah talked about why the light poles have not been installed yet, although the project itself is done. 
“The city and TxDOT have no control over when those get done. Only Oncor has control of that. The wrong poles came in but Oncor is getting the right poles to come in,” Haverlah said. 
Another individual asked about the curbs being cut back on the corner of Avenue D and North 1st St. It turns out one of the lanes was too narrow, although Haverlah said the project was designed and approved by TxDOT as it was originally created. The problem actually had to do with the fact that the center stripe had not been redone and with the lines the way they were, it made one lane too narrow. 
“TxDOT said, either move the stripe or move the curbs back. So, the designer for the project decided to move the curb back. It would have cost more to move the line than cut the curb back.”
In the discussion that followed, residents expressed concerns with decreasing Business 190 to two lanes on both sides. The reason for the median, particularly where safety was concerned, was part of the discussion, along with concerns about the amount of traffic congestion that might occur with the loss of two lanes. 
“This project started by analyzing traffic patterns on Business 190. That analysis has taken into account any of the changes that this project has proposed, going from 3 lanes into each direction to two lanes in each direction and dedicated turning lanes throughout the distance of the project. That analysis has determined there is not a change in the traffic flow,” Haverlah said. 
Additionally, Haverlah said part of the decrease has to do with lowering the amount of state maintenance required on Highway 190.
“Right now (TxDOT) is maintaining seven lanes in that area. From the traffic analysis, by reducing the number of lanes to four, we’re reducing the amount of maintenance required on that roadway. In addition, TxDOT said if a road is rated an A or B in traffic flow, that road is underutilized and we are paying taxes to maintain something that is not utilized the way it is intended to. It’s not utilized to the fullest extent that TxDOT thinks it should be,” Haverlah said. He also referred to fuel taxes paid at the gas pump to the state as being the funding for TxDOT roadway maintenance, in that instance.
A few residents expressed their frustration with what they perceived as a lack of communication by the city and other entities. Haverlah explained several ways the city has attempted to provide information for residents, including the city website and social media. Haverlah told those present the median wasn’t a project that “popped up out of nowhere”, but has been in the works for years.  
For those who were unable to attend the forum, public comment forms can be downloaded and printed from bit.ly/2u2Wihq and then submitted to the KTMPO office at KTMPO, 2180 N. Main St., Belton. The deadline is April 15. 
KTMPO is made up of representatives from area cities and counties, and the organization helps channel federal and state funding for area road projects for cities and counties in the KTMPO area. 
Last updated in 2016, the TIP will be revisited by the KTMPO Technical Advisory Committee on May 3, with the Transportation Planning Policy Board taking an official vote on the plan on May 9. Then, by June 1, KTMPO will submit the approved TIP to the Texas Department of Transportation. 
The entire draft plan is also available on the KTMPO website at ktmpo.org. 

Copperas Cove Leader Press

2210 U.S. 190
Copperas Cove, TX 76522
Phone:(254) 547-4207