A plan to fix the daily Trimmier-U.S. Highway 190 traffic jam — Killeen’s busiest intersection — may have tough competition as the debate over the fiscal year 2013-2014 budget begins.
Last week, Killeen city staff presented a five-phase, $8 million plan to improve the roadways leading into the intersection of Trimmier Road and U.S. Highway 190.
“We’re calculating that the overall impact of these projects will cause a 25 percent improvement,” said George Lueck, the city’s transportation director. “That’s rather significant.”
The project will have to fight for funding with several other
important city projects, including a proposed homeless shelter and a water reuse project, which would pipe nonpotable wastewater to the municipal golf course for irrigation.
The most expensive phase of the Trimmier Road project would add a middle turn lane to the current five-lane stretch between Bank of America and U.S. 190. Enhancements to Lowes Boulevard and Walmart Boulevard and development of a new marginal access road are included in the proposal.
The marginal access road would funnel traffic away from the congested intersection through a space created behind the new CVS planned for the southeast corner of the intersection at the current Midas location.
Still, it would be more than 12 months before the project would break ground, even if the city amends the budget by $774,000 to start engineering the project.
Timing for the project would coincide with the state-funded U.S. Highway 190 widening project, which broke ground March 1.
Over the next two years, the $55 million project will add one lane in each direction to U.S. 190 between Fort Hood’s Main Gate and W.S. Young Drive, including adding lanes to access roads, known as Central Texas Expressway.
Lueck told the council that contractors may offer discounted bids for projects in close proximity to other construction because of the contractors’ savings on logistics.
“The stars really line up for this project right now,” Lueck said.
As part of its project, the Texas Department of Transportation also plans to add a new lane to Trimmier Road under U.S. 190.
“One reason we want to match that project is to take advantage of that added capacity,” Lueck said. “If not, that’s just going to taper out and then were going to lose that.”
After looking at the price, Mayor Dan Corbin said he is concerned about the potential effect on the city’s long-term debt.
“The biggest concern I have is the fact that we would have to increase our long-term debt,” Corbin said. “We have to balance that with that traffic problem, which is just going to get unbearable.”
The city revealed in February that it overbudgeted $2 million for fiscal year 2012-2013.
Corbin said the city could use some of the leftover money for the engineering of the Trimmier expansion but only if it plans on finishing the project. “We’re going to get it done cheaper if we can do it while all this construction is going on, but I don’t want to do it if we can’t afford it,” he said.
Council members requested a report on the city’s long-term debt outlook for the March 19 workshop and plan to vote on the engineering funding by the end of the month.