TxDOT publishes Business 190 median meeting reports, design more than 60 percent complete
By BRITTANY FHOLER
The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) and the city of Copperas Cove are moving forward with the first phase of the Bus. 190 median project, from the intersection of Avenue D to Constitution Drive, according to a media release issued last Wednesday by the city.
A pair of public hearings, one in May 2018 and another on February 12, 2019 were held at the Copperas Cove Civic Center to present the project plans and receive public comment.
The documentation, including the written and spoken comments submitted at the hearings, are available on the Business U.S. 190 project web page of the city’s website at www.copperascovetx.gov/pio/highway_190_master_plan/.
The TxDOT Waco District has also posted the documentation to their project web page at www.txdot.gov/inside-txdot/projects/studies/waco/business-us-190.html.
Both webpages include information such as project history, schedules, maps, draft schematics, research/studies, FAQs and more.
There are also public meeting and public hearing summary reports which include written and verbal comments from the public, with responses to each comment.
The project has had vocal opponents and supporters alike, with results on public comments received.
Of the 140 in attendance at May 31, 2018 public meeting, 101 were members of the public, with the remaining being elected officials, TxDOT representatives, KTMPO staff, project consultants, and the media.
Those in attendance had the opportunity to submit written comments at the May 2018 hearing, with a public comment time taking place after the hearing as well.
Man of those who submitted comments objected to the reduction of one lane of traffic in each direction, but TxDOT, the Killeen Temple Metropolitan Planning Organization, and the Copperas Cove city council all approved changes to the original project, instead keeping three travel lanes in each direction and going forward with the median, sidewalk, and bicycle lanes within the existing right of way. Also, there are no planned bus stops for the center of the median.
As far as concerns over the width of the travel lanes and the length of the turning lanes, the response to those comments was that lanes will be constructed to TxDOT standards.
“Who is going to pay for any cost overrun? Hope not the homeowners only,” wrote Robert Thompson. The response was that TxDOT would cover any cost overruns for the project.
Another big concern from those commenting was that the meeting wasn’t held later, and that 5:30-7 p.m. wasn’t convenient for those who worked until at least 5 p.m.
“The Public Meeting was an open format from 5:30 PM to 7:00 PM. An informational project website was also available with current project information and an opportunity for public comment,” was the response by TxDOT.
A number of commenters simply objected to the project altogether. Supporters looked forward to the anticipated increased safety of the roadway overall.
Some comments pointed out other city roads that needed improvement, such as Constitution Drive and Pecan Cove, with the response being that those were outside the scope of the project.
Several who commented were against “planters in the middle of the road along with the 18” barriers” and any “grass” on the medians, with the response being that “the center median will not include vegetation; however, a separate grant was awarded to the city for landscaping which will be used adjacent to Parnell Dr.”
The grant referred to in the response is the Governor’s Community Achievement Award, two of which were awarded to Keep Copperas Cove Beautiful, totaling $420,000, and will be used to build terraced landscaping where there is presently a long concrete stretch of riprap along the eastbound side of Business 190.
At the February 19, 2019, public hearing, there were 90 who attended.
According to the TxDOT report, nine of those in attendance gave verbal comments during the meeting, with two being positive, six negative, and one neutral. There were 31 written comments received during the public comment period, with seven being positive in favor of the project, 12 negative and against the project, and 12 comments being rated as neutral.
The project was described by Anthony Beach of BSP Engineers at the February 2019 public hearing as “necessary to improve traffic safety, improve access management and provide bicycle accommodations” with the purpose of the project being “to bring the roadway up to current safety and design standards and improve mobility along Bus. 190.”
The project includes introducing a raised central median to divide westbound and eastbound traffic, access management via median openings including left and right turns at most public roadway intersections and optimizing driveway placement along the corridor. It will also provide pedestrian and bicycle accommodations through a six-foot-wide sidewalk, an eastbound five-foot-wide bicycle lane and a westbound 14-foot-wide outside shared-use lane.
The project design plans are progressing and just recently have surpassed the 60 percent completion phase, according to Wednesday’s press release.
Final plans are expected to be completed by the end of December 2019, with construction bid letting in March 2020 and construction beginning in May 2020, but the timeline remains subject to change, the press release said.