By Justin Cox

Killeen Daily Herald

HARKER HEIGHTS The City Council on Tuesday set into motion a $3 million project with the Texas Department of Transportation for highway improvements along U.S. 190, scheduled to be completed sometime in 2009.

The council unanimously approved a resolution authorizing an agreement between the city of Harker Heights and TxDOT for the construction of a right-turn lane on Farm-to-Market 2410 onto the eastbound service road, a U-turn lane under U.S. 190 on Indian Trail, westbound and eastbound service road ramp reversals between FM 2410 and Indian Trail and a cul-de-sac on Coronado Road. Of the estimated $2.93 million project cost, the city will pay $466,500.

Mayor Pro Tem Bobby Hoxworth said there will never be a better time for the city to get involved in the project.

"We leveraged our money to get the project done now," Hoxworth said Tuesday. "I think this is a great thing. Since the project was originally budgeted for $2 million and it cost $3 million, we leveraged ours to get more state money into the project."

Hoxworth indicated that the city needed to get this project done as soon as possible because of the Market Heights development and accompanying congestion that could delay emergency vehicles.

"It'll never be cheaper than it is today," Hoxworth said. "When more and more cities realize they can partner with the state and put a little money in, then the state has more demand, and so they have less money (in the future for matching funds)."

The council also approved the first step in getting a new animal control facility by authorizing City Manager Steve Carpenter to enter into negotiations with Austin-based Connolly Architects and Consultants to design the facility.

Police Chief Mike Gentry said the company is ideally suited for the task since it has designed well over 50 similar facilities.

"They received stellar recommendations from their previous clients; I think they are well-qualified to help us with this," Gentry said to the council Tuesday.

He also said that the company understands the budgetary constraints in the project, so they understand that it will be an emphasis on functionality, "not a monument to architectural design," as he put it.

Gentry said it's clear the city needs a new animal control facility because the current one is dramatically deficient for such an operation.

"It's needed because ours is woefully undersized, antiquated, not purpose-designed," said Gentry, using the same verbiage that he used to describe the old police station. "The building that houses the animal control shelter is under 1,000 square feet. We're going to be discussing (what kind of facility the city needs) with qualified architects. They are more familiar with the technical requirements of construction, so we are seeking out that expertise, and from that, the design process will begin."

Approximately $700,000 for the project was budgeted in the city's 2006 certificates of obligation.

Contact Justin Cox at or call (254) 501-7568

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