By Mason Lerner
Killeen Daily Herald
For the second year in a row, the Texas Department of Transportation took the top spot in the infrastructure and transportation category in CNBC's annual rankings.
TxDOT is currently working on several projects in Bell and Coryell counties, including a new U.S. Highway 190 bypass in Copperas Cove. TxDOT and local officials said the various projects should go a long way toward stimulating the area's economy.
Killeen City Manager Glenn Morrison was not surprised to hear TxDOT is getting national recognition again.
"We couldn't ask for anything better from our district engineer and his staff," Morrison said. "If the other districts have leadership like ours does, everybody in Texas should be doing just fine."
Ken Roberts, spokesman for TxDOT's Waco District, said it was rewarding to hear the organization's hard work being recognized.
"TxDOT puts a tremendous amount of effort into what we do," Roberts said. "It's not just laying asphalt and building bridges. We consider ourselves best in class."
Roberts said working with community leaders, landowners and business people is as important as any other aspect of a project. He also predicts a "tremendous economic boom" as a result of TxDOT activity in Bell and Coryell counties.
In addition to the U.S. 190 bypass in Copperas Cove, TxDOT is currently linking U.S. 190 to Farm-to-Market 116 and adding lanes to the stretch of Interstate 35 passing through Bell County.
Jodi Wheatley, I-35 information specialist for TxDOT, recognizes that progress can mean growing pains.
"A lot of small towns are taking a hit right now," Wheatley said of the construction.
"Although they are taking a hit initially, businesses are working with us to increase infrastructure. A lot of places are really taking advantage of what is going to be there."
Copperas Cove City Manager Andrea Gardner said she does not think construction has impacted Cove businesses negatively. But she is optimistic about its future impact.
"The long-term impact is going to be tremendous," Gardner said.
Gardner was not surprised to hear TxDOT is earning national recognition.
"They realize the importance of partnership," she said. "I wish other agencies were as easy to work with."
Contact Mason Lerner at firstname.lastname@example.org or (254) 501-7567.