Extending 9th Avenue represents a way to address traffic congestion on Main Street. The need for the project was first documented 30 years ago by the city in a long range plan. With historic homes along part of Main Street is not possible to widen the road in certain areas.
The project will provide an additional route emergency vehicles may take and is estimated to cut response times by two minutes. The University of Mary Hardin-Baylor has limited exit points and the expansion of 9th connecting it with Loop 121 should reduce traffic on South Main. In the late afternoons during the work week Main Street is backlogged from the overpass to 2nd Ave.
A traffic light was recently installed at the intersection of 9th Ave and Main. The Belton Police Department reported 17 wrecks at the intersection over the past few years. Left turns onto Main Street from 9th Ave at 5 p.m. is near impossible.
KTEP voted on four projects this month for funding with Belton’s 9th Ave project the top project receiving votes. “This is such a great accomplishment for the City of Belton. This is our first bridge that is not a state bridge, the 9th Ave bridge is locally funded,” said Paul Romer with the City of Belton.
A cost benefit analysis was conducted in 2011 by Russ Reid for a grant Belton was applying for concerning the 9th Ave. project. Estimates of reduced congestion and actual miles traveled reduced were given.
At that time, a total estimated value of the project was done and the value of the project was estimated to be $48 million.
For Belton residents who have to use Main Street at 5 p.m. and wait three or four light changes to even get close to the light at the intersection of Main and 6th Ave going north, time is money.
Also in the works in that neck of the woods is Belton’s African-American Churches United Organization application to rename 9th Ave. from Main to Loop 121 to Martin Luther King Ave. The forms went out and the votes should be in by mid-October. There are 26 property owners along this stretch of roadway. Of those 26 property owners, 16 are UMHB and they stated recently that they will be voting for the renaming.
According to rules recently created by the City of Belton name change requires 70 percent of those who actually vote. Virtually every property owner along the route would have to vote no and that is very, very unlikely.