The Killeen-Temple Metropolitan Planning Organization held two public hearings Monday one day before the City Council moved forward with the Business U.S. Highway 190 project.
John Weber, planner with KTMPO, freely acknowledged the contention among the nearly 50 who gathered Monday inside the Copperas Cove Police Department to voice opinions on proposed plans to renovate 1.25 miles of busy Business U.S. Highway 190 from Constitution Drive to Avenue D.
“In my three years with KTMPO, this is the most contentious project I have ever seen,” Weber said.
Heads shook and brows furrowed. Eyes glared at Weber, KTMPO planners and city officials inside the conference room at 302 E. Avenue E.
On Oct. 24, KTMPO’s Transportation Planning Board will consider approving adjustments to the Business 190 plan submitted by interim City Manager Ryan Haverlah on behalf of the City Council. Once approved, the project is set to be completed by 2020.
An original plan proposed a lane reduction from Constitution Drive to Avenue D, down from three lanes to two lanes in each direction. Following criticism from both residents and councilmen, new plans include no lane reductions, but at the cost of a narrower sidewalk.
If KTMPO approves the revisions, three lanes of traffic will remain in the plan. If denied, which is unlikey, according to city officials, the city has the option to drop the project.
“Usually, our board tends to go with our cities,” Weber said, indicating approval of the revisions is likely.
In 2017, the city was awarded $10 million from KTMPO. The amount includes a 20 percent match ($2 million) from the Texas Department of Transportation. The project also includes a $420,000 landscaping feature funded by the Governor’s Community Achievement Award.
Weber said Business 190 was ranked a high priority in 2017 out of about 99 projects considered in the region.
Opinions on Business 190 are divided among the council, with some supporting the plan, and others against the plan. Councilman Charlie Youngs, who was among many councilmen present for the public hearing on Business 190, expressed frustration with both KTMPO and TxDOT.
TxDOT held its own public hearing May 31, and has yet to release an analysis on public comments gathered. The city manager said he was told they would be released in November.
“Why should I have any faith for feedback when we still haven’t gotten feedback from the May 31 meeting?” Youngs said to Weber.
Weber then clarified that meeting was totally handled by TxDOT, not KTMPO.
“You don’t talk with them at all?” Youngs said. The councilman’s words triggered the audience to ask whether any TxDOT officials were in attendance Monday. There were none.
Two residents who have spoken at several past Cove Council meetings attended the Monday hearing.
Siggi Loe, a resident for more than 30 years, has surveyed residents over the past months on whether they are in support of or against the Business 190 project.
She claims to have collected signatures from 189 residents against the project, and six for the project.
Still, many indicated support of the project. Upon a show of hands, about half the room raised their hands in support of the project.
Silvia Rhodes with Keep Copperas Cove Beautiful, who has also advocated for the project several times before, was one of them.
Rhodes urged residents to do more research on controlled turn lanes rather than immediately dismiss them.
“Studies indicate that there would be no noticeable congestion from the turn lanes,” Rhodes said.
Loe quickly dismissed her support for the project.
“Businesses will suffer. We will suffer. It doesn’t beautify anything,” Loe said in Monday’s meeting. “We need to beautify our town, but unfortunately we’re left with this.”