COPPERAS COVE—Councilmen will decide the fate of the main highway running through Copperas Cove on Oct. 2.
By a vote of 5-1 before a crowded room filled with several dozen residents, Cove council scheduled a vote Tuesday on whether to continue or drop Phase 1 of a proposed renovation to U.S. Business Highway 190.
Some opponents have said a raised median will mean motorists bypass some businesses without being able to cross the road. Others have also complained about a proposed lane reduction.
The first phase of the project spans about 1.25 miles from Constitution Drive to Avenue D, and would change the current configuration of three lanes in both directions with a center turn lane to two lanes in each direction with a median and intermittent turn lanes, sidewalks and bike lanes. If preliminary dates hold, construction could start in spring 2020 and be completed by summer 2021.
Several councilmen have expressed interest in disengaging with the project entirely. On July 17, Interim City Manager Ryan Haverlah introduced a possible alternative to the current construction plans under design, which would include raised medians, controlled left turns, sidewalk improvements, dedicated bicycle lanes and retain three lanes of traffic in each direction.
Haverlah said he would present a final alternative to council for consideration during the Aug. 21 council meeting.
If the council authorizes Haverlah to submit a letter to the Killeen-Temple Metropolitan Planning Organization (KTMPO) requesting project changes, KTMPO would then have to present the proposed changes to regional partners in September.
“Within KTMPO, with the existing staff, this has not been done before,” Haverlah said. “A project has not changed from submission to completion with the amount of changes we are requesting.”
Councilman James Pierce Jr., who cast the only vote against the Oct. 2 decision date, was quick to recommend Aug. 21 as the deadline day for deciding whether to continue.
Councilmen Marc Payne and Kirby Lack urged the council that more information was necessary before deciding for or against the project.
Lack decried the proposed median in Phase 1 of the project, but supported the idea of adding sidewalks while keeping three lanes in both directions.
“I think to make a vote without all the information is based strictly on emotion and not intelligence,” Lack said. “I think we need to hear the alternative. We can still vote it down.”
Pierce opposed delaying the vote any further.
“We’ve been discussing this, and discussing this, and discussing this, just like kicking a can down a road,” Pierce said. “If people would actually talk to the citizens, they would have a consensus of what they want in the cities.”
Full details on the project may be viewed on a TxDOT webpage: www.txdot.gov/inside-txdot/projects/studies/waco/business-us-190.html.
In other business, councilmen discussed several construction projects, currently unfunded, to submit to KTMPO for the organization’s 2045 Metropolitan Transportation Plan.
Projects touched upon included the construction of the final two lanes of the U.S. 190 bypass east of the city, and Phase 2 of the proposed Business 190 project. Phase 2 would restrict travel lanes in each direction to one lane, and would add 6-foot sidewalks, 5-foot bicycle lanes, curbs and gutters.
Council reached consensus to include the projects in its submission to KTMPO, but will deliberate potential changes to them in the next meeting Aug. 21.