Meeting held to discuss Business 190 median
By PAMELA GRANT
Monday afternoon, the City of Copperas Cove hosted a City Council Special Workshop Meeting at the Council Chambers to discuss the Business Highway 190 Improvement Project.
The meeting was held to both inform the public and the City Council so that both would be a little more knowledgeable moving forward with whether or not the city wants to proceed with the Business 190 Improvement Project. A detailed in-progress design for the project, supplied by the engineering firm, was available for viewing at the meeting.
Ryan Haverlah, Interim City Manager began by discussing the time line of the project so far as well as what the project will entail and why he feels it will benefit our city.
In May 2017, KTMPO approved funding for the proposed Business 190 project, awarding $10 million dollars for construction. The project includes adding in a raised median and bicycle and pedestrian facilities on the section running along Business 190 from the intersection of F.M. 1113 (Avenue D) to Constitution Drive. KTMPO will be awarding $8 million of those dollars, with a required 20 percent match to be provided by TxDOT. The city will only be responsible financially if the project costs more than $10 million. The final estimate for the project is not yet available but should be soon, with the design at the 40 percent mark, according to the engineering firm.
“That $10 million cannot be used for anything except for the Business 190 Project,” said Haverlah. “If we change the project and remove raised medians, or we remove the sidewalks…this project cannot be done using these funds.”
If the city council ultimately decides to turn down the funds, funds will go toward the next highest scored KTMPO project—and not necessarily to Copperas Cove.
If the project is approved, the section of Business 190 between FM 1113 and Constitution Drive will be reduced to two through lanes of traffic in each direction with controlled left turn access via the medians at cross-street intersections. The project will also be including ADA compliant bicycle and pedestrian facilities.
Haverlah said that the project will increase safety for pedestrians as well as reducing the number of crashes. This is done by regulating where drivers can turn and reducing crossing conflict points.
BSP Engineer Tony Beach was the other major speaker for the meeting, and he discussed the schematic designs of the project and the studies done with regards to the project. Currently, there are 70 access points along the 1.2-mile stretch of Business 190, the scope of the project. After the median those would be reduced.
Marc Payne, Council Member Place 6, and James Pierce Junior, Council Member Place 2, expressed concern over potential congestion caused by population growth as well as the impact on larger vehicles like 18-wheelers.
“We’re trying to encourage businesses to come into Copperas Cove, but if we’re restricting the way they’ll be able to transit through this town, we’re doing a disservice to our citizens,” said Pierce.
Beach stated that travel time, even with predicted increased traffic flow, will not be significantly increased and says that most business will see little to no negative impact due to the changes. As for the 18-wheelers, Beach said they may have to take another route depending on their destination.
Beach asserted that many urban cities are making similar changes to improve safety and said that many will see only positive impact from the completion of the project.
After Haverlah and Beach’s presentations, the public was invited to express their opinions, both positive and negative, about the project.
Some were firmly against the project.
“I just think it’s a waste of $10 million,” said Roger Wilson. “It’s bad enough now, and it’s going to get worse. What we have right now works.”
“People are going to continue to do the wrong things at the wrong places,” said Rodney Nauert, a local business owner. He said that he doesn’t believe that the project will increase safety. He said that pedestrians especially will continue to cross wherever they choose rather than at designated areas. “Cutting lanes down won’t work…I really believe you’re going to affect businesses on 190 between 15-25 percent. Some places will be affected worse, some places may not be affected at all.”
However, some that had nice things to say about the project.
Teresa Chavez said that she has lived in Cove for 35 years and she is fully in favor of the project.
“I have seen so much improvement in this community…Any time we make a change in this community, I know, I know that there will be a lot of complaints because it’s scary,” said Chavez. She said she knew many business owners that complained about the impact of the bypass, but now that it’s completed, their business has either stayed the same or improved. “It is a project that is near and dear to my heart because I care about this community,” said Chavez passionately. “Progress like this is important…I am afraid that if we turn this money down, then we won’t see money for a long time…This is important for our community. Let’s work this out. Let’s make sure that our community is progressing, and it’s going to be a community that looks wonderful, that invites people to it.”
The next public meeting related to the Business Highway 190 Improvement Project will be held Thursday, May 31 at the Copperas Cove Civic Center beginning at 5:30 p.m. Representatives from TxDOT will also be on hand at that meeting. More information about the project will be provided, and property owners and interested citizens will be given the opportunity to provide input, ask questions, and voice their concerns.
Those interested in learning more about the project can do so online at https://www.txdot.gov/inside-txdot/projects/studies/waco/business-us-190...