Although it may not look like it now, Killeen officials predict the downtown streetscaping project will finish ahead of schedule.
Pavement will return to downtown by midspring and the entire $5.8 million project, including expansion of the Andy K. Wells Hike and Bike Trail, is expected to be complete by the end of next year, said George Lueck, the city’s transportation director.
When contractors broke ground in August, they predicted a spring 2014 finish date.
“The project is coming along well and at a pretty good clip,” Lueck said.
Lueck said downtown business owners and patrons crossing the construction zone, which encompasses avenues D and C from Fourth to Eighth streets, have made it through the worst of project-related obstructions.
“It will continue to get more usable,” Lueck said. “A couple of months ago we were all walking in the street; now we are starting to use the sidewalks.”
Downtown parking is available on Santa Fe Plaza Drive throughout the course of the project.
Half of the lighting and 70 percent of the sidewalks are finished, Lueck said. “It’s a complete rebuild from storefront to storefront.”
By mid-January the contractor is expected to finish the flatwork, including sidewalks, drainage, irrigation, electric hardware, medians and concrete features, such as the mid-block plazas.
The last work to go in will be the pavement, Lueck said.
Although the mid-block plazas taper the road down to two tight-fitting lanes and eliminate some storefront parking, the features are expected to bring a more pedestrian-friendly feel to downtown, said Charlotte Humphreys, downtown revitalization project manager.
“We see it as a gathering place for future events,” Humphreys said.
One of these new plazas — minus the brickwork and landscaping — can be seen on Avenue D between Fourth and Gray streets.
The project design calls for decorative herringbone brick paving at six downtown intersections.
Designs for the downtown streetscaping project were required to meet guidelines of the Texas Historical Commission to qualify for a $2.6 million Texas Department of Transportation grant and to keep downtown’s historic designation.
The new streetscaping project respects the historic integrity of the buildings downtown, most of which were built in the 1950s, Lueck said.
“It’s 1950s-historic. It’s Elvis,” Lueck said.
Hike and bike
Connecting the Andy K. Wells Hike and Bike Trail to downtown contributed to the city’s TxDOT grant award, which pays for almost half of the project.
A new 10-foot concrete path along Avenue D will connect the trail’s terminus at W.S. Young Drive with downtown.
A quarter-mile section up to the trail head on Avenue G is finished, including a new pedestrian bridge over Nolan Creek.