Poison Oak Road

Some of the homes on the south side of Poison Oak Road will soon be demolished as part of a project by the city of Temple to expand the street. The purpose of the expansion is to provide better connectivity in the area near the new Charter Oak Elementary. 

The Temple City Council voted unanimously to approve two resolutions that would allow the city to purchase and demolish a series of properties needed for city road projects.

The projects include the expansion of Poison Oak Road and the improvement of East Avenue C. City officials said both projects still need to acquire more nearby properties, along with later steps, before being able to start construction.

The first project approved last week by the Council was the demolition of 10 residential properties the city acquired for the expansion of Poison Oak Road. The demolitions will cost $73,300 and will take an estimated 30 days to complete.

Poison Oak Road feeds into Charter Oak Elementary, which the Belton Independent School District opened last fall.

“The widening and realignment of Poison Oak Road aims to increase capacity while also providing connectivity between (State Highway) 317 and the future Outer Loop,” Don Bond, director of public works, said. “The existing sections of Poison Oak Road will also be improved, resulting in a smoother driving experience for residents.”

City officials said they expect that construction will start on the new road by the end of the year.  A nearby utility line will need to be moved first.

The second resolution approved by the Council was to allow city officials to move forward with the purchasing of eight properties along East Avenue C to expand and improve the road. The city will pay an estimated $558,000 for tracts owned by six residents.

City officials estimate they will complete the acquisition phase of the project in 18 months and begin construction after that.

The expansion and improvement of Avenue C comes as part of the city’s neighborhood planning district look at the Ferguson Park neighborhood. Improvements of the road will include pedestrian and bike access, enhancements to the road, landscaping and signage for the neighborhood.

Temple spokeswoman Laurie Simmons said that while COVID-19 has not affected the city’s ability to acquire these properties and relocate their owners yet, they are not sure about the future.

“For the properties where agreements have been reached and need to close, we are working with the title company to come up with a process that is as expeditious as possible but adheres to the (coronavirus) precautions prescribed by local and state officials,” Simmons said. “At this time, it is difficult to tell if the virus will make future acquisitions more difficult. We will continue to work with property owners while also following all public health directives.”