By Mason W. Canales
Killeen Daily Herald
COPPERAS COVE - Drivers already experiencing traffic jams on U.S. Highway 190 east of the city can expect even longer delays as two multimillion-dollar projects converge.
State contractors have started clearing trees and brush for the highway bypass project, said Ken Roberts, a spokesperson for the Texas Department of Transportation about the construction south of the highway. "There is some excavation going on back behind the road."
What's causing the current traffic snarl is a one-lane closure on U.S. 190 from Constitution Avenue to the railhead overpass on Fort Hood for the State Highway 9 project.
Construction crews are laying additional paving so the contractor can start building the interchange for U.S. 190 to the state highway.
"(Drivers) are seeing much more of State Highway 9 on the railway than the direct connect," said Roberts.
While the single-lane closure is slowing daytime traffic, it is mild compared to the road closures to come. In about four months, road crews will start to place columns and beams for the interchange.
"That is going to impact the flow of traffic," said Roberts, adding that the state department might divert traffic to one side of the highway.
To add to the coming congestion, the bypass project also will join U.S. 190 in the same area - between the railhead bridge and Constitution Avenue - but Roberts didn't know when construction of the bypass ramps will begin.
For the bypass project, Roberts said the contractor, Louisiana-based James Construction, has worked in phases, moving to different portions when other areas reached completion.
For instance, the project has required blasting of a large hill. During rock removal, the contractor started to excavate other areas, such as moving a landfill in the right of way of the new highway.
Construction of the $68 million U.S. 190 Bypass Project started in July and is expected to take about 712 days.
The $39 million State Highway 9 project started in February 2011 and is a 609-day project. Ledcor will construct five bridges for the state highway project. The first bridge, which spans Turkey Creek on Fort Hood, is 75 percent complete and the other four are in various stages, said Roberts.
TxDOT's project tracker website states the U.S. 190 bypass project is about 20 percent complete and State Highway 9 is 35 percent complete.
Contact Mason W. Canales at firstname.lastname@example.org or (254) 501-7474. Follow him on Twitter at KDHCoveEditor.