No surprise — the completion of Interstate 35 through Temple has been delayed again.
Texas Department of Transportation officials said in mid-February that the highway construction would be substantially complete by the end of May — if spring rains didn’t interfere. In March, a spokesman revised that timeline to say the construction would be finished in the summer but gave no specific date.
Ken Roberts, a TxDOT spokesman, now says the agency anticipates having four lanes open in each direction by the Fourth of July — more than a month later than expected.
“We are on track for substantial completion, weather permitting,” Roberts said.
Rain has led to more delays, Roberts said.
“Significant wet weather events have slowed the progress on the mainlanes and frontage roads, particularly in the areas of striping, concrete bridge railings and concrete median barriers,” Roberts said.
Work on frontage road intersections near downtown Temple has also been slow since temporary stop signs have been posted at the intersections of both Central and Adams avenues for several months. Most days, traffic backs up at the stop signs as motorists wait their turn to cross the busy intersections.
Roberts said a TxDOT contractor will be working on the new traffic signals at Central, Adams, Avenue H and 57th Street throughout June.
“The complexity of wiring and required supports necessary to activate and maintain both the traffic and pedestrian signals at that location have required additional resources and slowed the progress to this point,” Roberts said. “As I mentioned, the June timeframe is what is being projected but it too could go into the summer.”
The I-35 project has been delayed by about a year due to right of way and utility issues.
I-35 construction through Bell County, with significant delays that led to the loss of businesses in Salado, for example, has concerned elected officials, including state Rep. Hugh Shine, R-Temple and U.S. Rep. John Carter.
“It’s been a real difficult challenge,” Shine previously told the Telegram. “Over the past two years I’ve established a relationship with TxDOT and the railroad. There have been multiple issues.”
Shine said Bell County residents have endured the brunt of the delays.
“I’ve discovered a lack of coordination, cooperation and misunderstandings in the process by all entities involved,” Shine said.
North of Temple, the project reached substantial completion at the end of last year through Troy and Bruceville-Eddy.
TxDOT is wrapping up work on the State Highway 95 project between Little River-Academy and Holland, officials said.
Downtown Temple projects
The transportation department has several projects in the works, including overlay projects near downtown Temple.
On Monday, workers will begin the milling process for a $2.5 million overlay project on part of State Highway 53/West Adams/East Central in Temple. Barricades and warning signs will be set up this week.
Three miles of roads — West Adams and East Central avenues from North 31st Street to South Spur 290/North Third Street — will be resurfaced. Work in residential areas will occur from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday. Work in commercial areas will be done from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. weekdays.
The project is scheduled to be completed in late summer, weather permitting, Roberts said.
Last week, TxDOT started a $1.2 million overlay project for a portion of Spur 290/North Third Street in downtown Temple. The project began May 1 on Spur 290/South First Street.
The project will cover about 1.8-miles of Spur 290 between East Marvin Felder Drive to the BNSF railroad crossing just south of East Avenue B. The work will take place between 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Roberts said rain delayed the work in May. The project could be complete by the end of July, weather permitting, he said.
Loop 363 resurfacing
Next week, TxDOT plans to start a $2.9 million resurfacing and repair project on East Loop 363.
The project — scheduled to start on Monday, June 10 — will mill about eight inches of existing roadway for an asphalt overlay from I-35 southeast to U.S. Highway 190. Work will be alternated on both northbound and southbound lanes of I-35, Roberts said.
Work will be done between 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, weather permitting.
Hewitt-based Big Creek Construction Ltd. is contacted for the project, which will resurface nearly seven miles of roadway. The completion date will be in late summer, Roberts said.
Road work signs and temporary lane closures will be posted. Motorists can expect delays within the project area, Roberts said.
TxDOT cautions motorists to be alert for construction personnel and equipment in the work areas.
Interstate 14 expansion
Construction is expected to begin in the fall for a project to widen Interstate 14 between Harker Heights and Belton. The project — which will widen the highway from two to three lanes in each direction — will go to bid in June.
The new lanes — to be built in the existing median — will expand the highway from near Indian Trail in Harker Heights to near FM 2410 in Belton. No additional right of way is needed for the project, Roberts said.