TxDOT, city host public meeting on Business 190 project
By LYNETTE SOWELL
The Texas Department of Transportation along with the City of Copperas Cove held a public meeting on Thursday on the proposed Business Highway 190 median project.
The plans for Business 190, from the intersection of Constitution Drive to the intersection of Avenue D, include raised medians with dedicated left turn lanes. On the south side of Business 190, a 10-foot-wide multiuse sidewalk and bicycle path is planned.
While some who attended on Thursday thought they would have the chance to take the microphone to ask questions and address TxDOT and other representatives, the interaction was a bit different than some expected. The public meeting was held in an “open house” format, with the approximately 200 who attended the meeting having the opportunity to visit several information displays set up in the Copperas Cove Civic Center.
Displays provided information on safety and traffic data for the 1.25-mile stretch of roadway, both present and future projections, with displays also outlining funding information. BSP Engineering reps stood by the printed design in its present concept, which was approximately 30 feet in length and stretched out over the length of several tables. The schematic design was posted along one wall of the civic center.
Around 6 p.m., Interim City Manager Ryan Haverlah gave a brief presentation on the project, which included a history of the project from its earliest discussion in 2014 to its present form, along with giving a timeline of what is to come.
“All comments on this project at this stage of the project must be submitted online via the survey or in writing,” Haverlah told those present. “There will be a public hearing on this project, and city council will be having meetings on this project and have future discussion moving forward.
“As residents, we have numerous opportunities to provide comments directly to not only the governing body, but also to TxDOT because this is a TxDOT-let project. That is why we have the format we are in, where we have a public meeting now, and then we will have a public hearing later on.”
Haverlah also explained that the project in its current form was submitted by the city, with project funding awarded by the Killeen Temple Metropolitan Planning Organization, and if the project changes from that scope, it would no longer be eligible to be funded.
TxDOT Public Involvement reps were on hand to encourage attendees complete an online survey on one of several computers set up in the civic center.
Susan Howard, a public involvement specialist for TxDOT, said the survey will also be accessible for 15 days after Thursday’s meeting.
“If people can’t come tonight, we would so appreciate it if they can take the survey. You can use it on any device, your phone or laptop or tablet. The survey takes five to seven minutes,” Howard said.
The survey can be accessed at https://www.txdot.gov/inside-txdot/projects/studies/waco/business-us-190....
Those who weren’t able to attend the meeting may also submit written comments about the project to Ms. Janet Sheguit, BSP Engineers, 15 W. Central Avenue, Temple, TX 76501. Comments must be received or postmarked on or before Friday, June 15, to be included in the documentation of the public meeting.
In addition to the online survey, the TxDOT Waco District’s project web page includes links to the project’s history and schedule, a project map, a list of frequently asked questions, along with a traffic study of the highway reported in May 2016 by Lee Engineering.
The Killeen Temple Metropolitan Planning organization, or KTMPO, is a conglomerate of government entities that receive submitted projects and score them to award funding.
To date, the city has already spent more than $721,000 on the design, with that expense approved by the Copperas Cove city council in August 2017 when it authorized the city to hire BSP.
Haverlah said that the city has been meeting with BSP reps to discuss right of way, utility, design, with the schematic design having been completed.
He also reiterated one of the reasons for the changes – safety for both drivers, bicyclists and pedestrians.
“Since this project has come about, I’ve been paying more attention on traffic on business 190. There are people walking along, they’re playing leapfrog through seven lanes of traffic. I also ride a bike, and I will not ride on Business 190. It is not safe. It is very dangerous,” said Haverlah.
“Currently any driver can go to any part of business 190 and make a left turn and that’s a significant safety concern…If you’re driving on 190, start paying attention to who’s in that center lane.”
Haverlah said one of the perceptions is that by removing one lane in each direction, that traffic flow will return to what it was prior to the Highway 190 bypass and State Highway 9 opening.
“One of the things that the council did was complete the traffic analysis. Reducing one lane in each direction, there is an impact, but it is not going to be so significant that we are back to pre-bypass traffic conditions. Not anywhere close to that,” Haverlah said.
Next in the process is the environmental analysis and then the final design, Haverlah said, followed by a public hearing in the summer of 2019, with verbal comments to be received by TxDOT then. After that will come bid letting in winter 2019 with construction to begin in spring 2020. The project will take about 15 months to complete, Haverlah said.
Along with the final plans will come traffic management planning during construction.
“We’re not just going to block off traffic without considering how traffic will flow. That’s also a consideration,” Haverlah said.
He encouraged those in attendance to talk to the individuals at the stations.
“They have answers and they want to listen to your questions. If they don’t have a specific answer, that’s part of the comments we need to know,” Haverlah said.