By Kim Steele
Harker Heights Herald
The Harker Heights Police Department will be making a recommendation to the Harker Heights City Council to lower the speed limit from 45 to 35 miles per hour on Comanche Gap Road.
Police Chief Mike Gentry said during a city council meeting Tuesday that the police department has been studying the issue and realized changes need to be made on the road, which runs from Knights Way/Farm-to-Market 2410 to Dana Peak. The road has been the subject of several recent complaints.
"We've been concerned about the speed limit since that road began developing," said Gentry. "There are many issues there, and because of the increased traffic, the old speed limit is not good enough. Initially, Comanche Gap Road was a country road that led to a park, but over the years, it has urbanized."
Gentry revealed the recommendation after talking to Herbert F. Gately III, a resident who has lived off of Comanche Gap Road since May 2006. He said the road continues to be a problem for motorists and pedestrians. Gately said there have been two rollover accidents and a vehicle slipped down the side of the road in the past five months.
"The road is a safety hazard," said Gately during the meeting. "My belief is that it is the second worst road in Harker Heights. Comanche Gap is in sorry shape. There are two blind spots, and people travel too fast on it. I am concerned that someone is going to get killed on that road. Lowering the speed limit is the first step."
Gately was the second person to complain about Comanche Gap Road in two months. Resident Dawn Ware appeared before the council in December to ask that the speed limit be lowered. Ware cited uneven pavement, potholes, deterioration on the sides of the road, deer, new neighborhoods and Dana Peak Park as concerns.
The condition of the road initially was brought to the council's attention in an April workshop, but the cost to repair the road is more than the annual street budget. Public Works Director Mark Hyde said he estimates the repairs will cost between $1.8 million and $2.2 million.
Hyde said the city could repair the road in phases over the next two years or could borrow the money to make the repairs immediately. Hyde said the planned repairs would give Comanche Gap Road a complete makeover, widening it from 23 feet to 28 feet, with additional grooved pavement beyond the shoulder.
Also, said Hyde, it would feature a 10-foot-wide hike and bike trail alongside the road, for which the city would have to cut into some of the hills off the road, creating a need for retaining walls.
Harker Heights Mayor Mike Aycock said the city can fix Comanche Gap Road's potholes right now, but that's about all until a decision is made about how to proceed. Aycock said the problems have been on the city council's radar for a long time.
"We know the road is in bad shape, but we want to fix it right," he said. "It's in next year's budget. There's some problems we have to look at with Comanche Gap Road, but we only do a little there until we get down to the nuts and bolts of it."
The city council also heard about concerns with another road in Harker Heights. Dick Chapin, a 32-year resident who lives on South Roy Reynolds Drive, said the increase in traffic and speeding have become problems for him. Chapin said the road has become a shortcut for cars and commercial vehicles.
"If you drive the length of South Roy Reynolds at 32 or 33 miles per hour, you will have six to 10 vehicles stacked up behind you," said Chapin. "One or more times a day, the impatient and aggressive drivers will pass you ... acting like they are going to ram you ... trying to intimidate you to go faster."
Chapin said commercial trucks - cement, gravel, moving and drink distributors - are tearing up the residential street. Chapin said there are more than 20 places where the asphalt is breaking down and the compacted road base is seeping up through the asphalt.
Chapin said the problem could be solved if stop signs were placed at Clubhouse Drive and Roy Reynolds Drive, as well as at Beeline Lane and Roy Reynolds Drive. Unfortunately, said Chapin, he recently discovered the City of Killeen is responsible for all of Roy Reynolds Drive, not just the west half of it.
Aycock said he wasn't aware the entire street belongs to Killeen, either. Aycock said he would talk with City Manager Steve Carpenter to see what Harker Heights could do to alleviate the situation.
Contact Kim Steele at firstname.lastname@example.org or (254) 501-7567.