COPPERAS COVE — The State Highway 9 and the U.S. Highway 190 projects are behind schedule but should open later this year.
State Highway 9, which will take drivers from U.S. 190 on the east side of town to north Farm-to-Market 116, is further behind schedule, said Charles Smith, the Texas Department of Transportation project engineer for the bypass. They are not going to make their original deadline.
“They were delayed by utilities and the addition of the
H-E-B turn signal,” Smith said. “They are 75 percent on items (complete) and 95 percent on time (allotted).”
The 3.2-mile construction project should make up some time and finish before the end of the year. The northwestern portions of the project already have their first layer of gravel and are waiting for the eastern portions of the project to be completed, Smith said.
On the east side, the contractor is working to finish the U.S. 190 direct connect and laying the road base between U.S. 190 and Tank Destroyer Boulevard.
The Tank Destroyer underpass also slowed the project, as the contractor, San Diego, Calif.-based Ledcor, couldn’t blast portions of a hill cut filled with blue shell, a hard rock.
Excavation is complete, but the contractor is still removing material.
Ledcor also continues to work in the area of North FM 116, where detours are in place.
“They are looking at switching traffic to the northbound lanes in mid-July,” Smith said.
The northbound lanes will be new lanes for the state roadway and allow traffic to enter FM 116 with ease, Smith said. The switch will allow the contractor to work on the south lanes.
U.S. 190 bypass
Baton Rouge, La.-based James Construction, is only slightly behind schedule for the U.S. 190 bypass project, which also experienced some utility issues and problems relocating a landfill in the middle of the project’s 5.1-mile course.
The bypass is 70 percent finished with 76 percent of its time used, said Ken Roberts, a TxDOT spokesman.
“They are running a bit behind, but not much,” Smith said.
Two of the largest portions of the bypass are nearing completion. The contractor is stabilizing the last level of a 90-foot hillside cut that drivers will pass, Smith said.
A 1,700-foot-long bridge that stands about 60 feet tall is almost finished over a large valley leading to the hill cut.
“Just being up on this thing is amazing,” Roberts said, standing on the bridge, which needs guardrails and a final layer of asphalt.
Three bridges on the project still need significant work, including the Old Copperas Cove Road bridge, the FM 116 overpass, and the U.S. 190 connection, Smith said.
While detours are directing traffic on the western portions of both projects, residents will continue to see work in the median of U.S. 190 just east of Copperas Cove.
Both contractors will work over the next few months to finish the direct connections.
“You can see how all this is going to tie in together, and it is really going to make for a really safe and efficient traffic system,” Roberts said.
The Highway 9 project cost about $38.9 million and is scheduled to be completed in the fall. U.S. 190 cost about $64 million and should be completed by the end of the year.