While drivers deal with detours, business owners along U.S. Highway 190 are preparing for the changes they expect to occur when the State Highway 9 and U.S. Highway 190 projects are completed next year.
Though the new roads are months away from opening, some business owners are already being impacted by the construction.
Robert Weidinger, owner of Frames ’n’ Things in the Cove Terrace Shopping Center, said his customers from outside the city are making moves to take as few trips as possible through the construction zones.
“With my business, you place an order and pick it up seven days later. You have to come in twice,” Weidinger said. “Currently, due to construction, many people say they’re staying away from Cove.”
Weidinger said about 80 percent of his customers come from outside Copperas Cove, some as close as Harker Heights, others from as far as Houston.
He also is concerned that if businesses are allowed to establish along the bypass, current businesses in the city will suffer.
“I don’t think (the bypass) is going to hurt Cove in any way. I think it’s going to make people re-look at how they do business,” Weidinger said.
Other businesses in the city already have a hard time drawing in customers due to location or sign ordinances.
Brenda Cuny, owner of Brenda’s Closet, a consignment clothing store at 181 W. U.S. Highway 190, said she would be closing in December despite the number of cars that pass by every day.
“We get all this traffic and they barely know we’re here,” said Cuny of the small shopping center in which her store is located. “With the bypass, it’s going to truly be a drought over here.”
Cuny recognizes that the new bypass could provide an advantage for businesses however.
“It will definitely have to be intentional that you come through this way,” she said. “Lots of people just don’t see the sign here. They’re trying to get home to Kempner or Lampasas.”
Copperas Cove Economic Development Corporation Executive Director Polo Enriquez said even though the bypass will result in fewer cars passing by businesses in the city, it will make them more accessible during busy times.
“Traditionally, economic development folks like me don’t like bypasses because they take people off the main corridors. But in this particular instance, I think it will be very helpful to local merchants on 190 because it’ll make it safer and easier to get in and out of those businesses,” Enriquez said. “The number of people that will come through Copperas Cove will be less, but they will be folks who have intentions of stopping.”
Chameleon Counters owner Keith Northrop, however, sees a different advantage to the construction.
“That bypass is all about expansion,” he said. “It’s going to allow more troops to come in (to Fort Hood).”
Northrop said he could see a decrease in walk-in traffic in his shop, but if there are more soldiers in the area it wouldn’t matter because businesses would still be able to expand.
“It’s going to turn the business section into more of a business area. They’ll be here to do business,” he said. “It won’t be congested up with the people trying to get through to Lampasas and all the other people trying to get to Gatesville. That bypass will help.”