By Jade Ortego

Killeen Daily Herald

BELTON – The Bell County Commissioners Court on Monday approved resolutions of appreciation to state Sen. Troy Fraser, R-Horseshoe Bay, and state Rep. Ralph Sheffield, R-Temple, for their appeal to the Texas Transportation Commission for additional funding for the expansion of Interstate 35.

On Nov. 19, the commission approved allocating nearly half of $2 billion in funds reserved for work on Interstate 35 to Bell, McLennan and Hill counties.

"It's going to give quite a bit of funding to the Central Texas area to complete the I-35 project," said John Fisher, Bell County commissioner.

In Bell County, the construction will cost $90.4 million for the segment from Farm-to-Market 2043 to Farm-to-Market 2044 in Salado; $135.5 million for the segment from North Loop 363 to the northern city limit of Troy; and $192.2 million for the segment from the northern limit of Troy to Woodlawn Road in McLennan County.

The project will expand the highway from four to six lanes. All funding will come from the state.

Because of the new grants, construction of roadway lanes could begin next year, though it was originally expected to begin in 2012 and 2013.

Voters authorized the construction with the passage of Proposition 12 in 2007.

"All these projects are supposed to go to contract in 2010. In all likelihood, they will not start turning dirt until a year or so later, because they'll have to buy right of way and all that," said Tim Brown, Bell County commissioner.

"This is probably one of the most important things that's happened here in probably a decade or a decade and a half for transportation. We really have something to be excited about," Brown said.

Contact Jade Ortego at or (254) 501-7553.

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