TxDOT holds meeting about proposed highway project on West U.S. 190
By PAMELA GRANT
The Texas Department of Transportation-Brownwood District is proposing to convert the roadway on US 190, from a four-lane divided highway to a freeway section with frontage roads beginning at the intersection of Highway 190 and F.M. 2657 at the Coryell County Line heading west past Big Divide Road in Lampasas County (about 2.3 miles).
To gauge the public’s opinion and support for the project, TxDOT invited the public to learn more about the proposed project at a public meeting held Thursday starting at 5:30 p.m. at Taylor Creek Elementary School.
Several TxDOT officials were on hand at Thursday’s event to help answer questions and concerns throughout the event. They had three large maps giving people an idea about what the proposed project might look like. Nearby, they provided sticky notes so residents could make note of areas on the map that might be affected by the construction. Forms were also available at the event so residents could express their concerns, make comments, or offer suggestions to TxDOT.
The project is still in the planning stage, and nothing is currently set in stone, but TxDOT’s plan is to build an overpass at the intersection of Highway 190 and Farm-to-Market Road 2657. They also plan to build a controlled-access freeway with one-way frontage roads and on- and off-ramps.
Lisa Tipton, Public Information Officer for TxDOT, says that the increase of traffic and limited sight distance in the area has increased crash risks and operational inefficiency along the area’s stretch of US 190 and nearby residential developments have increased congestion in the area. The proposed project is expected to improve safety and operational efficiency for current and future traffic volumes.
“The US 190 Bypass (AKA the Cove Bypass) Improvement Project in Copperas Cove will be upgraded from 2 to 4 lanes and is anticipated to go out for bids in Spring of 2024,” said Tipton via email to the Copperas Cove Leader-Press. “The Brownwood District’s US 190 from FM 2657 to Big Divide Road Project is a continuation of the US 190 Bypass expansion and would start as the next phase of improvements, once the project is approved and a funding source is determined. The Brownwood District is bringing this project to attention now because of the expansion of the US 190 Bypass and the current growth in this area—TxDOT wants to improve safety and mobility through this corridor.”
The project is still in its beginning phases and does not have an anticipated construction start date, but it likely would not begin for several years. Also, the widening of the U.S. 190 bypass will likely be completed before this project begins.
The environmental impact for the project and the final schematic design are both anticipated to be finalized in fall of 2024. Environmental reports will determine if and how any endangered species or their habitats, water resources, cultural resources, and more might be affected by the construction.
Some at the event were excited by the idea of the proposed project.
“I think it’s a great project,” said Copperas Cove City Manager Ryan Haverlah. It will be good for our community and the communities to the west…It will allow interstate commerce to flow between this state, neighboring states, and across the country. It will be really good for Fort Cavazos.”
However, there are several residents who are concerned about the effects of the proposed project, particularly on those living in the area.
“It’s going to be very inconvenient,” said Kristina Phillips who lives in the affected area. “I’ll have to take the road all the way down under the bridge and turn around just to get home if they don’t have that free middle lane anymore…We’re used to just using that middle lane to turn into our driveway.”
Mary Fowler, who also lives in the area, agreed that it would be inconvenient to come and go without the middle lane, but she was more concerned about the environment.
“They’re going to take away more of the habitat from the animals,” said Fowler. “It’s going to be noisier. We’re having trouble keeping deer, rabbits, and other animals now. They’re getting skittish. They’re getting run over…I understand why this is happening, but they have to think about the people a little bit. I don’t think that’s too much to ask.”
Jana Lumley-Smith says that she is worried because she says that TxDOT didn’t factor in how crime rates might increase with the changes to the road.
She’s especially worried about people speeding through the area hitting people and/or animals. She feels like the proposed project will encourage speeding and exacerbate the existing problem rather than fix it.
“I’ve talked to 3 or 4 different people here about this and they all say they haven’t studied how it will affect crime rates,” said Lumley-Smith. “They need to do a study showing how this will affect crime rates 10 years out.”
She believes that just adding a traffic light in affected areas and increasing police presence in certain areas can solve all or most of the problems that the planned project is seeking to solve and it would do so in a much cheaper way.
“The easiest and cheapest thing to do is to put a stop light there,” said Lumley-Smith. “That would slow things down…and it would actually benefit the community on that side…Let’s put in a stop light. Let’s give it some time. Let’s see if it solves the problem. If not, let’s revisit this.”
Funding has not yet been secured for the project, but the current estimated construction cost is about $78.5 million.
According to the current design, their project will require them to acquire approximately 40 acres of land from property owners. One residential property and two non-residential structures would be displaced by the current proposal.
“This public meeting was held to determine support for the project, which comes from public comments received at the meeting, submitted online, or emailed,” Tipton said. “Every comment is important…We can design a better project for everyone.”
For those who were not able to attend the meeting, TxDOT has posted a video online with the proposed project. To watch the video, go to www.txdot.gov and search “US 190 at Big Divide”.
“This online presentation is great for those who want to review the project and for those who weren’t able to attend the meeting,” said Tipton. “It is the same presentation that was playing at the meeting.”
If you want your voice to be heard, you must submit your comments either directly online, by email to Jodie.Kelly@txdot.gov, or by mail to
TxDOT Brownwood District
Attn: Jodie Kelly
2495 Highway 183 North
Brownwood, TX 76802
In order to be added to this public meeting’s records, your comment must be received by 11:59 p.m. July 3, 2023.