By Robert Nathan
Killeen Daily Herald
HARKER HEIGHTS If you don't think the growth in population is going to affect you, think again.
The city is about to hit another thoroughfare transition as its rural areas continue to grow into large subdivisions. Streets in the southern part of town could eventually look like Indian Trail and Mountain Lion Road bigger and better able to handle more traffic.
"There is no doubt it will have an impact on the roads," City Planner David Mitchell said. "2005 was a historical year in growth."
In 2005, the city received 704 permit requests, which includes single-family and multifamily developments and duplex development permits a 180 percent increase in permit requests from the previous year.
It was population growth that forced the nearly completed Mountain Lion Road reconstruction project and the upgrade of Farm-to-Market 2410. New schools and more homes bring in the need for more traffic lights and sidewalks on what are now busy streets.
"It's going to help with increasing traffic," said Mark Hyde, director of public works, about the Mountain Lion Road improvements. "These improvements will be (money) well-spent."
The city's planning and development department, along with public works, use traffic count data and last year's permit requests to see how growth is affecting streets.
U.S. Highway 190, FM 2410, Indian Trail and Veterans Memorial Boulevard are the city's major thoroughfares. Daily traffic count on U.S. 190 westbound has increased from 30,252 in April 2003 to 35,440 in November 2005.
But it's the traffic count on southbound FM 2410, south of U.S. 190, that shows the city's country roads could become major streets. It was here where traffic has increased from 8,669 in April 2003 to 15,894 in November 2005.
"The more traffic you have, the more repairs (are needed)," Hyde said. "As we grow, we will have more maintenance needs."
The city has $666,600 budgeted for street improvements for the 2005-06 fiscal year. Maintaining streets makes up 9.2 percent of the city's general fund expenditures.
Many of the streets in the southern part of town were originally maintained by the county before the city gradually annexed the area. Some are not well lit and are not wide enough to handle the increased traffic flow.
"They were built for rural traffic," Hyde said. "With all of the subdivisions, they have become more urbanized."
While Ann Boulevard and Harley Drive have become new major thoroughfares in the northern part of town, Verna Lee Boulevard, Stillhouse Lake Road and Warrior's Path Road are becoming the new major thoroughfares in the southern part of town.
"These carry a lot of traffic," said Dr. Ray Shanaa, director of planning and development. "They function as collectors."
As new subdivisions are platted, the city is studying how they will fit into the existing infrastructure and how they will be connected to major thoroughfares.
"We look at how roads fit in with the network," Mitchell said.
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