HARKER HEIGHTS — As of Sept. 6, local drivers who exceed 65 mph on U.S. Highway 190 between the Killeen city limit and Indian Trail Drive could risk a moving violation.
Citing safety concerns for travelers and construction workers, the City Council unanimously approved dropping the speed limit from 75 to 65 mph in the new work zone, which commenced Aug. 19.
Larry Colclasure, director of Transportation Operations for TxDOT’s Waco District, wrote in an email to the city that Texas Department of Transportation guidelines allow a maximum speed limit reduction of 15 mph.
“I don’t think it’s a hard-and-fast law, but it’s something to consider for traffic safety,” said Heights Public Works Director Mark Hyde.
Crossing into Killeen, drivers must currently lower their speeds from 75 to 55 mph.
“It’s a pretty big drop,” Hyde said.
Councilman Spencer Smith expressed concern that the decreased speed limit could generate excessive citations from Department of Public Safety and Bell County Sheriff’s patrols, and questioned if the Harker Heights Police Department would exclusively enforce traffic laws.
“The thrust is for safety, not punishment,” Smith said.
While Heights police occasionally ride the highway, they mainly patrol neighborhoods, City Manager Steve Carpenter said.
The speed limit reduction will accompany a $9.5-million project adding one inside lane on the eastbound and westbound sides of U.S. 190 from W.S. Young Drive in Killeen to Farm-to-Market 2410 in Harker Heights, as well as a turning lane on the eastbound FM 2410 bridge at the highway’s frontage road.
Weather permitting, construction should finish by fall 2014.