By Desiree Johnson
Killeen Daily Herald
Drivers going from Killeen or Harker Heights to Salado suddenly have an extra-long commute. Farm-to-Market 2484, a popular shortcut that is faster than taking U.S. Highway 190 to Interstate 35, has been closed off since heavy rains hit the area earlier this month.
"There's only one little section of road by Stillhouse Hollow Lake that has been closed off," said Tim Brown, Bell County commissioner.
According to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers office, the road has been closed for two to three weeks because lake levels have risen so much that water from the lake has backed up from the Union Grove and Rivers Bend park areas and covered the highway.
Officials said sunny weather and further precipitation, which affect lake levels, will determine how long the road will remain closed.
"We've been trying to get the word out through the media, and it's up to the Texas Department of Transportation to put up signs on a state highway," Brown said.
The shutoff has been an inconvenience for travelers, mainly because of the lack of warning.
Going from Salado toward Killeen, a sign about a quarter mile into FM 2484 warns drivers that the road is closed and they will have to take an alternate route.
Barricades and signs are placed along the sides of the roadway where Stillhouse Lake Road and FM 2484 intersect, but the road is open until the Stillhouse Hollow Reservoir area, where motorists are confronted with multiple barricades and forced to turn around and take another route to their destination.
"We have the same problem with State Highway 317 right now," said John Obr, area engineer with the Texas Department of Transportation. "At the time, roads were closed off because of rainfall, but now most roads are reopened with the exception of areas where lakes have backed up over the road."
Obr said he hopes receding waters will soon solve the problem.
"It all depends on how fast the water level goes down," he said. "Until then, we're at the mercy of the lake."
Although not as short, an alternate route for some motorists driving between Killeen and Salado is to use Farm-to-Market Road 1670, which intersects U.S. Highway 190 east of Killeen, crosses the Stillhouse Hollow Reservoir dam and intersects 2484 about a half-mile west of I-35, just north of the Salado city limits.
That alternative will remain viable so long as the lake does not overflow its spillway, which transects FM 1670.
Contact Desiree Johnson at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (254) 501-7559