Motorists turn off of U.S. Highway 190 on to Farm to Market Road 2657 in Copperas Cove on Tuesday. An expansion for FM 2657 was recently approved which will widen the roadway through Copperas Cove.

The widening of Farm-to-Market 2657, which will give Copperas Cove and Kempner residents another major roadway, may start in July.

"We are in the process of finishing up the plans for the project, and right now we a have it scheduled to let (allow contractors to bid for the project) next June," said Eric Lykins, area engineer in Lampasas for the Texas Department of Transportation.

The $6.4 million construction project will widen about 2.5 miles of the roadway from about U.S. Highway 190 to about Lampasas County Road 4744 or Boy's Ranch Road. Improvements will include two lanes of travel in each direction, a turn lane, curbs, and gutters.

"The proposed shoulder is going to be 6.5 feet wide on each side," Lykins said. "This width of a paved shoulder will accommodate bicycles."

Presently, the road is only two lanes and experiences about 7,200 drivers on the north end every day, Lykins said.

Almost all of those additions have already been designed and engineered, but TxDOT is working on designing the storm drains, which will gather rain runoff for a two-year storm event, Lykins said.

The project also is marked to receive funding once the design is completed, but Lykins wouldn't promise that would happen.

"The road is shown as funded right now for June, but these things are subject to change," he said.

To make sure a project such as this one will be ready for construction, TxDOT has to confirm all the right of way has been purchased. According to the TXDOT Project Tracker website, that process was completed in December of this year. The website also states that the design of the project started in September 2009.

The right of way is important in this project because it will require more room to add those extra lanes to the roadway, Lykins said.

"For a lot of projects, when possible, we try to stay within the right of way that we have," Lykins said. "In a project such as this one, we needed to take a more rural type road and make it more a suburban road. It is definitely

more of a suburban area where we are needing more width."

This project is an important project for the area because it is growing and because of the U.S. 190 Bypass project that will divert traffic around Copperas Cove to about FM 2657.

"That area of Copperas Cove and Lampasas County is growing and with the Cove loop coming in, we do look for the traffic volumes to increase," Lykins said.

Contact Mason W. Canales at mcanales@kdhnews.com or (254) 501-7474. Follow him on Twitter at KDHCoveEditor.

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