The addition of a new north-south artery through Killeen is nearly complete, but motorists will have to wait until summer 2015 to reap its benefits.
Rosewood Drive, which previously ran from south of Stagecoach Road to a dead-end near Fawn Drive, is being extended to run under a U.S. Highway 190 overpass that’s being constructed to meet Farm-to-Market 2410, just west of the Killeen-Harker Heights boundary.
George Lueck, Killeen’s director of transportation, said the Rosewood extension creates a major north-south arterial that will relieve congestion at the intersections of Stan Schlueter Loop and Central Texas Expressway and FM 2410 and Central Texas Expressway.
“Those are the two of the most congested intersections in the city,” he said. “Anyone who wants to go south in Killeen has to fight the lights at those intersections. Now, once Rosewood is opened up, (motorists) can hit the turnarounds and go through Rosewood.”
The completion of the U.S. 190-Rosewood overpass in summer 2015 will shorten travel distances. Lueck said the Rosewood extension ties into Stagecoach Road creating somewhat of an outer loop around the city — easing congestion and allowing for better movability.
Construction on Rosewood began in April 2013, and Project Manager William Swearingen said that portion is estimated to be completed by the middle of the month. However, the roadway won’t open until the entire project is complete. Swearingen said the final paving of Rosewood will be done around Friday.
“We won’t be opening (Rosewood) to traffic until the bridge (the U.S. 190 overpass) is erected because Rosewood doesn’t go anywhere until that connection is made,” Lueck said.
Swearingen said crews are working on the westbound main-lanes of the U.S. 190 overpass, and are about 50 percent complete. The next phase — constructing the eastbound bridge — should begin in June.
The initial goal for the Rosewood extension was to ease congestion, but residents will reap several other benefits.
State Highway 195 is currently the only major artery in the city connecting the northern and southern portions of the city. Rosewood will create a second north-south arterial through the heart of the city.
“The fact that we will have another north-south option is critical, and I think this gets it done more than any other transportation project that we have done in a long time,” said Tony McIlwain, city planner. “As a reliever, this is a great benefit. I think it’s going to be incredible once it’s finished.”
From a growth standpoint, Lueck said the project will make the community “more livable” and “improve the quality of life.”
“It’s a way to manage growth,” he said. “The city is only growing south; we’re growing like crazy south. In order for us to properly manage our growth, we have to build north-south routes.”
According to the U.S. Census Bureau website, Killeen’s population was an estimated 134,654 in 2013 — a 5.3 percent jump from 2012. City officials expect that trend to continue, and its only option is to grow to the south. Lueck said the thoroughfare also will allow quicker response times for police, fire and EMS.
The Rosewood extension is being 100 percent funded by Killeen. Lueck said the project has a price tag of about $3.5 million.
In the future, pending council approval, the city hopes to extend Rosewood even farther to the south to meet Chaparral Road. The extension to the south would accommodate future development in that portion of the city, and create another access point to State Highway 195.