Phase 3 of an Outer Loop project in northwest Temple is expected to start this summer and could be finished as early as December, according to a Temple city planner.
The second phase of the ongoing project was completed in January.
“The Outer Loop project on the west side of Interstate 35 is a five-phase project that will connect I-35 in north and south Temple and improve mobility on the west side,” said Jason Deckman, a senior planner for the city of Temple. “With the city’s continued growth, the Outer Loop will become an essential outlet to reduce roadway congestion and provide residents with options for getting around Temple.”
Deckman pointed out that the Outer Loop is not being built as a freeway.
“We have freeways — Loop 363 and the interstate,” he said. “Freight traffic likely will remain on those highways. The Outer Loop is an option that will help alleviate congestion in West Temple.
“The project is broken up into the north and west projects and will create a four-lane road with a raised median, bike lanes and pedestrian trails,” Deckman said.
Two of the five phases already are completed, he said, as is Research Parkway, which will link the north and west phases of the Outer Loop.
Construction began on the loop, which has roots in a 2008 comprehensive plan, in April 2020. Phase 1 was completed in November 2021, and that portion of the project began at Central Pointe Parkway and ended at McLane Parkway.
“That phase widened Old Howard Road from a rural two-lane drive to a four-lane road with shared-use paths and drainage improvements,” Deckman said.
Phase 2, which was completed earlier this year, extended the Outer Loop from McLane Parkway to Wendland Road. It widened Old Howard and Moore’s Mill roads.
“Phase 3 hasn’t started yet, but we estimate construction will begin in June or July of this year,” he said. “That phase will take the loop from Wendland Road to I-35 at Hart Road. It will include a grade-separated crossing at the BNSF railroad overpass.”
The first phase of the western portion of the Outer Loop is expected to start in 2025, and that section will extend the loop from Jupiter Road to Riverside Trail. The final phase on Temple’s west side of I-35 will link Riverside Trail to I-35 near Twin Cities Boulevard, but a projected start date has not been determined, Deckman said.
The city of Temple applied for funding for the Outer Loop in 2018 through the Killeen-Temple Metropolitan Planning Organization. Funding was awarded for the first four phases of the project from multiple sources, but not for the final phase on the west side.
The Killeen-Temple Metropolitan Planning Organization is responsible for establishing a comprehensive transportation planning process for the greater area around Killeen and Temple, Deckman said.
Eventually, the city hopes to extend the Outer Loop on the east side of Temple from I-35 on the north to U.S. Highway 190 near Heidenheimer, which someday could be designated as part of Interstate 14.
“The East Loop is only a conceptual plan at this point,” Deckman said. “Several processes would have to happen before any construction could start. Voluntary annexation, proposed development, right of ways and funding would all have to be negotiated before that phase is initiated.”
In order to completely encircle Temple, a South Loop would need to be constructed, and studies have not started for that distant future stage.
Here’s a phase-by-phase breakdown of project funding:
Phase 1 of the north section of the Outer Loop was funded by $13.9 million in reinvestment zone money. A reinvestment zone is a taxing entity formed by legislation that serves as an economic development tool for municipalities. Money collected from Temple property owners stays here and works to improve the area, Deckman said.
Phase 2 of the north section was funded by $9 million in reinvestment zone money, and phase 3 will be paid for with $36.7 million in reinvestment zone funds.
Phase 1 of the western section of the loop is a bit trickier. It will be funded by $10.2 million from the Killeen-Temple Metropolitan Planning Organization (80% federal funds, 20% local matching money), $5 million through Community Project Funding and $15.8 million from Capital Improvement Project funding. Community Project Funding is money approved by the federal government and distributed by the Texas Department of Transportation.