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Chaparral Road expansion won't start until 2025, despite current traffic issues

Traffic congestion continues to get worse around Chaparral High School because Chaparral Road was never expanded. 6 News is digging into the project's history.

KILLEEN, Texas — Killeen ISD was in talks with the City of Killeen about Chaparral Road as far back as 2018. Over the next four years, KISD built their brand new Chaparral High School on that road and expended the section of the road in front of the school to four lanes in anticipation of the road also being expanded. 

As of Sept. 8, Chaparral High School has been completed and open to students. 

But construction on the road has yet to get started, and 6 News confirmed Thursday there aren't even a final set of plans for the construction. In fact, a City of Killeen engineer told 6 News construction may not start until 2025.

So what happened? 

Multiple Bell County governments have been in discussions about the road for the last for at least four years and there is currently a proposed interlocal agreement between Killeen, Harker Heights, Bell County, and the Killeen-Temple Metropolitan Planning Organization (KTEMPO) to build the road for up to $24 million. KTEMPO would provide about $17.2 million in federal funds. Killeen would provide about $3.5 million Harker Heights would provide a little over $224,400 and Bell County would would provide up to $3 million.

On Tuesday, the Bell County Commissioners Court discussed approving the new Interlocal Agreement to fund the road. But Bell County Judge David Blackburn eventually tabled the item, because there is still no final construction plan for the project. In fact, commissioners still don't know where the road is going to go. 

"I've been told administratively, they believe they have settled on something, which I don't know if the rest of the parties to the agreement are aware of that," Blackburn said. 

Blackburn said the county should discuss with the City of Killeen what the path was going to be and what roads would or would not continue to belong to the city and county. 

Blackburn also said the county agreed to a memorandum of understanding for the project "several years ago."

But when 6 News spoke to Killeen City Engineer Andrew Zagars on Thursday, Zagars said the City of Killeen had not settled on a final proposed plan for the road. 

"Those are still things we have to analyze and figure out what is the best option," Zagars said. 

Zagars said the current timeline for the project has the construction starting around 2025. 

6 News asked Zagars how the city could estimate the cost of a road project if the path of the road was not decided yet. Zagars said the estimated length of the road would not change much between the options and that was the main factor. 

"Chaparral has 90 degree bends. We want to straighten it out. The distance and the alignment of the length of the road is not going to change terribly. If anything it will probably shorten out a bit. Based on the proposed length of the road, we get a base estimate on what it would cost to widen it or improve it, widen it to a five lane, put in the pedestrian features... As we proceed with the design and tighten it up you know what the dollars are going to be for the project," Zagars said. 

Zagers said the length of the road is an estimated 6.65 miles, though that would change depending on the path they chose. 

6 News also asked Zagers who would pay for cost increases if the final project was more than the current Interlocal Agreement provided for. 

"That's part of the interlocal agreement. If there are cost overruns it is up to each community, the county and each city, if they want to put in new funds. It's up to their discussion. We are are going to look for more grants," Zagers said. 

    

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