Regional hike and bike trails were among the solutions offered by residents Thursday during a public input session in Killeen to solve the transportation challenges brought on by the area’s growth.

The well-attended session was one of five planned this month by the Killeen Temple Metropolitan Planning Organization in Copperas Cove, Killeen, Harker Heights, Belton and Temple.

Officials representing those cities on the KTMPO board will use the input — gathered through interactive exhibits and surveys — to create projects for the region’s long-term 2040 transportation plan.

“The purpose of this process is to provide a voice to identify needs and then prioritize them,” said Annette Shepherd, KTMPO director.

In order for a project to be funded, it must first be placed on the long-term list, she said.

“Every project in the Killeen-Temple metropolitan area went through this process,” Shepherd said.

Harker Heights resident Jimmy Gaffney, 59, said he is worried about the population increase in the Temple-Killeen metropolitan area.

“With the population growing as fast as it is projected, if we don’t start changing something, this place is going to be a mess,” Gaffney said.

The area is projected to grow by 200,000 people by 2040, Shepherd said.

Gaffney said the retirement population of Killeen and Harker Heights is open to forms of transportation that past generations were not, such as biking.

“I feel like because of our population we have a chance to change our attitudes as much as ever,” Gaffney said. “I think we’re a lot more conscious of quality of life.”

The final meetings will be in Harker Heights on Tuesday and Belton on Thursday.

Contact Brandon Janes at bjanes@kdhnews.com or (254) 501-7552

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