HARKER HEIGHTS — Motorists could spend less time at stoplights along Farm-to-Market 2410 if the Killeen-Temple Metropolitan Planning Organization approves a road-widening project the City Council nominated at its meeting Tuesday.
The $4.5 million project would expand a half-mile stretch of FM 2410 from two to five lanes between South Ann Boulevard and Commercial Drive. Ten percent of the funds would be earmarked for new HOP buses, which run from City Hall to Harker Heights High School.
Widening “wouldn’t fix the problem, but it would help the traffic problem going on right now,” Mayor Mike Aycock said. “It gives us more queuing area for cars behind the (U.S. Highway 190) bridge. Right now, it goes from one lane at Mickey’s, then it splits to two lanes, but it doesn’t get traffic out fast enough.”
Through the national Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act, the Killeen-Temple Metropolitan Planning Organization received more than $8 million for surface transportation spending during fiscal years 2013 and 2014, city documents stated. Harker Heights is one of 14 members of the organization.
Support from businesses
Nearby business owners support widening FM 2410.
“Most of the time, you’ll see people heading east toward Ann, waiting to turn left, and people swing right by them” without a “true” shoulder to use, said Jerry Harrison, branch manager of Ewing Irrigation on the southeast corner of FM 2410 and South Ann Boulevard.
Harrison, a five-year employee, said he sees one to two accidents a week at the intersection, including many fender benders. Widening the road and adding a two-way turn lane on FM 2410 would prevent accidents and deter drivers who currently cut through the parking lot to avoid red lights, he said.
Farther east along FM 2410 and closer to U.S. 190, employees at medical clothing shop Scrubtopia are experiencing other traffic-related issues.
“Two lanes is not a lot for as much traffic as that road takes,” said owner Dynisha Woods. “In the morning time and lunchtime and 4 o’clock in the afternoon, it gets congested.”
Manager Rose Hastings said she would prefer incremental construction along FM 2410, rather than an all-at-once approach that would re-route cars to the U.S. 190 service road.
“I hope they don’t do that,” Woods said. “I’m sure it would be nice to have a newer piece of road out there, but I’m definitely concerned for what would happen to business.”
About 10 to 15 percent of Scrubtopia customers come from drive-bys, she said.
“Nobody likes construction because it causes tie-ups, but there’s a lot of traffic here so why not (widen)?” said Bill Whigham, owner of Papa Murphy’s Pizza at the corner of FM 2410 and Commercial Drive.
The project nomination form estimated an October 2014 start date, and an October 2015 end date. Required to fund 20 percent of the project, the city has budgeted $1 million for costs, said City Manager Steve Carpenter.
The project nomination request also includes a turn lane at FM 2410 and Highland Oaks Drive.
“I hope they commit to doing it fast, whatever they do,” Woods said. “Come in at midnight and be gone.”