By Rose L. Thayer

Harker Heights Herald

HARKER HEIGHTS - Construction could begin as early as this month on a new turnaround on U.S. Highway 190 in Harker Heights, said Mark Hyde, Public Works director.

The City Council on Tuesday unanimously approved awarding James Construction Group LLC a $1.84 million contract to build an east-to-west turnaround on the U.S. Highway 190 bridge at Farm-to-Market 2410. This means traffic coming from Killeen can take a U-turn back toward Killeen and avoid traffic lights, said Hyde.

If all goes as planned, construction could start at the end of May.

"It should alleviate traffic congestion on the bridge," said Hyde. "Those two left-turn lanes are always backed up."

James Construction was the lowest bid, beating out five other companies for the project. The company estimated the project would take about 44 weeks to complete.

Harker Heights is partnering with the Texas Department of Transportation and the Federal Highway Administration to complete the turnaround using pass-through financing.

After completion, TxDOT will reimburse the city $1.7 million within a 10- to 20-year period, based on traffic counts.

In other action Tuesday, the council voted unanimously to deny a rate increase for Atmos Energy Corp., Mid-Tex Division, a natural gas provider in the city.

The proposal included a 13.6 percent increase for residential customers, excluding gas costs.

Also included in the rejected proposal was an increase in the fixed monthly residential charge, from the current $7.50 to $18, but the consumption charge would have dropped from the current 25 cents per 100 cubic feet to 7 cents.

Harker Heights is part of a steering committee for the company, said Alberta S. Barrett, finance director.

Barrett said the council's rejection of the proposal will allow Atmos to continue negotiating to reach a new settlement.

Contact Rose L. Thayer at or (254) 501-7463. Follow her on Twitter at KDHreporter.

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