Designs for a new eastern loop around Temple are now under way as the city is expected to finish its western loop in the coming years.
Contracts to design two portions of the city’s East Outer Loop were unanimously approved by the Temple City Council last week. The designs were in addition to other work that was also approved for the western and northern outer loop projects.
The city’s outer loop project aims to connect north and south Interstate 35 to help with congested travel through Temple.
“With the continued growth of the city, the Outer Loop will become an essential outlet to reduce congestion on roadways,” city spokesman Cody Weems said. “Sections that have opened have already helped improve traffic flow in a growing area of the city.”
The first design contract approved was southeast of the city, at the intersection of State Highway 36 and FM 93, and will move northeast, adding an estimated 15,500 linear feet of new major arterial roadway.
The city has partnered with engineering firm Kasberg, Patrick & Associates LP for the design, to cost about $343,600. Creation of the design is estimated to take about 11 months to complete.
City officials said initial estimates for this phase of the loop shows a cost of $28.9 million.
The Council also approved a contract for the design of the northern section of the East Outer Loop with Kasberg, Patrick & Associates.
City officials said the proposed section of the loop will connect to I-35 near its intersection with Berger Road and go east to Gun Club Road.
The $146,100 contract with the engineers will help determine the right of way that the city needs to acquire for the project. The firm plans on using imaging from drones, in addition to light detection and ranging technology, to determine the best path for the road.
Officials estimate the design of this section of the loop will take about nine months, with the final cost of $10.2 million.
Council members approved a $456,300 change order for Phase 3 of the North Outer Loop.
The change order to the city’s existing agreement with KPA is to design an overpass over the BNSF railroad in North Temple along with wastewater extensions for the Little Elm Sewer Trunk. Phase 3 of the North Outer Loop mainly follows Moores Mill Road.
While phases one and two of the northern loop are underway, city officials said phase three is expected to start sometime this fiscal year.
Lastly, the City Council approved the purchase of a right of way and construction easement needed for the West Outer Loop Phase 1 project.
The purchase of the right of way for an estimated $330,000 is one of the last needed agreements for the project. The property purchased is located at 2465 Old Waco Road.
Phase 1 of the West Outer Loop plans to expand and improve a section of Old Waco Road between Jupiter Drive and Riverside Trail.
City officials said there is still one property in negotiations with the city.
City Attorney Kathy Davis said the city has not yet decided to use eminent domain on the remaining parcel needed for the project but might need to. She said this is to meet funding timelines set by the Texas Department of Transportation.
Davis said it can be hard on these types of projects to determine if the use of eminent domain is needed.
“However, when planning for right-of-way acquisitions, we typically anticipate that eminent domain will be necessary on some of the required acquisitions,” Davis said. “This can be due to a number of factors, such as inability to reach an agreement with an owner, an absentee owner, or defects in title that prevent the owner from conveying a clean title to the city even if an agreement were to be reached.”
Phase one of the West Outer Loop is expected to be bid out between summer and fall of 2022, with phase two of the project not expected to start until between 2025 and 2027.