After years of work, the Interstate 35 reconstruction project in Bell County is pretty much done, while a similar project to widen Interstate 14 still has years of work ahead.
“Overall, the I-35 Reconstruction Project ... particularly in Waco, is continuing at an aggressive pace, well on track for a 2023 completion. Bell County work remains substantially complete with minor ‘punch list’ items such as completion of the Temple Welcome Monument and the standard establishment of vegetation along the corridor within the Temple/Troy area remaining, prior to final acceptance of the project,” Texas Department of Transportation spokesman Ken Roberts said in a recent email.
It’s all part of a longtime statewide project to widen I-35 to at least three lanes in each direction from San Antonio to Dallas.
For Bell County, a big part of the project was taking place in Temple from 2013 until last August, when Temple officials held a ribbon-cutting ceremony signifying the end of major construction on the project.
When the I-35 plans were working their way through the state bureaucracy, Temple leadership saw it as an opportunity to improve the community’s look to the drivers and passengers of the 111,000 vehicles that travel through the city each day, officials said.
The Temple portion of the reconstruction project was 7.5 miles and cost $241 million.
In May 2013, when construction was set to begin, it was the single largest contract ever for construction by the Waco District, that number has since been eclipsed by the 5.8-mile, $341 million, I-35 reconstruction project now underway in Waco.
The multi-year project included widening the main lanes of the highway through Temple to four lanes in each direction, along with the rebuilding of all bridges, except South Loop 363 and North Loop 363, according to TxDOT.
A project to add a new lane in both directions of Interstate 14 from Harker Heights to Belton is estimated to cost about $90 million and the work will be going for the next few years.
But the wider highway — used by thousands of motorists every day — is coming, and work is already underway.
The project to widen Interstate 14 to six lanes from Harker Heights to Interstate 35 in Belton will take years, and TxDOT has divided it into three phases.
Phase 1, a two-mile section of I-14 from Farm-to-Market 2410 in Harker Heights to FM 3423 (Indian Trail) was completed last year. The project cost about $7.2 million.
Phase 2 started in the fall and spans more than 7 miles from Indian Trail in Harker Heights to FM 2410/Simmons Road in Belton. The project is costing around $45 million is expected to be done in the fall of 2021. The project is being constructed by J.D. Abrams LP of Austin.
Phase 3, the last phase of the I-14 expansion, from Simmons Road to I-35 in Belton, is tentatively scheduled to begin this fall, according to TxDOT. The estimated cost is $38 million, and funding has been approved, Roberts said.
U.S. Highway 195
An $8.4 million project to repave State Highway 195 south of Killeen, and add turnaround lanes at a major intersection was recently completed with the exception of adding cable barriers for a portion of the highway, according to TxDOT.
The 13-mile project to add new asphalt on the highway from the intersection with Stan Schlueter Loop (Farm-to-Market 3470) to the Williamson County line began in August.
All lanes were resurfaced with a 1-inch overlay, making for a smoother ride.
The new turnaround lanes were installed under the overpass at the intersection of Highway 195 and Stan Schlueter Loop.
While technically not part of the same project, TxDOT also installed a new traffic signal in recent months at the intersection of Highway 195 and Chaparral Road. It is now the first traffic signal light motorists come to when arriving into Killeen along the highway from the south.
Janice Gibbs with FME News Service contributed to this report.