Killeen entities are spearheading an effort to give U.S. Highway 190 an additional name that may attract more businesses to Central Texas.
“What we are doing is gathering support to have the portion of U.S. 190 from Copperas Cove to Belton turned into an interstate highway,” said John Crutchfield, Greater Killeen Chamber of Commerce president. “We are not changing the name of U.S. 190. It will be just co-signed I-14.”
A dual designation for the highway should give the cities along the U.S. 190 corridor — Belton, Nolanville, Harker Heights, Killeen and Copperas Cove — some economic advantages that will help attract more businesses, Crutchfield said.
“It has economic development implications, because many times corporations want to be on an interstate highway,” he said.
When completing surveys by site selectors, the Killeen Economic Development Corporation, the chamber and the city cannot claim Killeen is on an interstate, which sometimes automatically removes it as a potential site, Crutchfield said.
“There are many economic development prospects that cross you off the list for not being on an interstate,” Killeen Mayor Dan Corbin said.
A lot of industries, especially those in manufacturing, want to move products by truck or rail.
While Central Texas has a transportation corridor that supports that traffic, it is not apparent to some of those businesses on paper, Corbin said.
“We don’t have that in Killeen,” Crutchfield said. “We are 17 miles off an (interstate) highway.”
The Copperas Cove Economic Development Corporation was among the first government entities to sign a resolution Oct. 24 to support the I-14 effort.
Interstate highway status for U.S. 190 could improve options for funding and economic opportunities, said Polo Enriquez, Cove EDC executive director. There shouldn’t be any downside to establishing the dual designation.
“I do agree that if you are not an interstate, some companies will not look at you,” Enriquez said about the site selection process.
Enriquez nor Crutchfield could recall the number of times Cove or Killeen had been withdrawn as the site of a new business because U.S. 190 lacks an interstate designation.
“I would think about a third of the proposals have wanted to know if we were on an interstate,” Crutchfield said. “It is a reason that we may not get considered. If you don’t meet (a company’s) minimum standards then you are not going to get considered, and that is on us.”
The companies Cove EDC tried to attract have been more interested in “5 to 55,” compared to interstate statues, Enriquez said. They want to make sure their trucks can go 55 miles per hour in less than five minutes. Cove offers that now, and the time will be shortened when the bypasses are completed.
The interstate status would, however, reinforce the city’s accessibility, Enriquez said.
Changing the name
Adding the dual designation could be easy, since U.S. 190 from Belton to Copperas Cove is already built to interstate standards with limited access and proper infrastructure, Crutchfield said.
“It looks like an interstate highway,” Corbin said. “It has the traffic of an interstate.”
According to the Federal Highway Administration’s website, the U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary may designate, as part of the Interstate System, a highway meeting all standards for interstate highways that are logical additions or connections to the system.
The interstate highway system was created to help mobilize the military, Corbin said.
“Here we are with one of the largest military bases in the United States, and wouldn’t it be nice to have an interstate?” Corbin said.
Crutchfield said the Killeen entities are currently getting local support through resolutions.
They will then garner support from the Texas Department of Transportation and the area’s representatives in Congress before heading to the federal agency.
“Hopefully we can get this done in a couple of months,” Crutchfield said. “It is not like we have to pass legislation or anything — that legislation already exists.”
Contact Mason W. Canales at email@example.com or (254) 501-7474