Outer Loop

Old Waco Road in West Temple is one of the many roads that has seen expansion under the city’s Outer Loop project, which aims to connect the northern and southern parts of Interstate 35. Further expansion of the road is planned for next year.

During a meeting last week, the Temple City Council took another step toward making sure the city is better connected moving forward.

As part of its long running project, the Council unanimously approved a $10.8 million contract with Emerson Construction of Temple for phase two of the North Outer Loop. The project is the second of three phases that will widen and improve sections of Moores Mill Road and Research Parkway in the city’s northwest industrial park.

This section of the Outer Loop will go from McLane Parkway to Wendland Road and is estimated to take about 14 months to complete once work begins in August.

City spokesman Cody Weems said the entire Outer Loop project, which includes a western and northern section, aims to connect the northern and southern sides of Interstate 35 to lessen traffic.

“With the continued growth of the city, the Outer Loop will become an essential outlet to reduce congestion on roadways, Weems said. “Sections that have opened have already helped improve traffic flow in a growing area of the city.”

Weems said the improvements for this section of the Outer Loop will include widening the road to have two lanes each way with a median, bike lanes and a 10-foot pedestrian trail along the southern side of the road.

Along with road improvements, city officials said the project will include an extension of the Pepper Creek Trunk sewer line. The extension of the line is to help better service the city’s industrial park.

The extension of the line will add 3,700 feet of new 10-inch wastewater line to where it currently ends near the intersection of Corporate Way and Research Parkway.

Weems said there are currently five remaining phases of the Outer Loop project that are either underway or yet to be started. This includes phase one of the North Outer Loop that is expected to be completed by September and phase three of the northern section that the city plans to put out for construction bids next year at the estimated cost of $14 million.

Phase one of the West Outer Loop is expected to be bid out between summer and fall of 2022, with phase two of that project not expected to start until between 2025 and 2027. The first phase is expected to cost between $14 and $18 million depending on the scope and phase two is expected to cost about $25 million.

Weems said the city had planned to complete all the phases of the project by 2025 but the last phase has been delayed as the city waits for Texas Department of Transportation grant funding.

Councilman Wendell Williams, who represents west Temple, said he sees the Outer Loop project more as an economic engine than a way to reduce traffic.

“When you make the outer loop run from I-35 all the way to I-35, you have created again what was created with Loop 363, a corridor of future economic growth,” Williams said. “So I look of it more in that direction. It will certainly have some benefits to our friends in our industrial park and people getting to work there but it has a major impact for the community in the future.”