By Elizabeth Varville, Correspondent
As it stands, the West Marin Luther King, Jr. Avenue Extension and Overpass Construction Project is projected to be completed ahead of schedule. The project began Feb. 2. James Construction Group is required to finish the project by October 2016 but is on track to finish by August 2016.
The project is on budget with the estimated cost of over $6 million dollars with a net positive of $18,000; 80 percent funded by a Texas Department of Transportation (TXDOT) grant and 20 percent by tax dollars.
“When UMHB built their new football stadium, they had to excavate a lot of dirt. UMHB owns the property just north of the constructed bridge where they eventually stored the removed soil. In order to build all the embankments, the city would have had to bring in dirt from other cities. The hauling costs for all that is expensive. We saved a lot of money by using the dirt UMHB donated to the city and a retaining wall was added. Originally, the city only had enough money to do the bridge. But with the savings from UMHB donating the dirt, the city could put a change order in that put in the light system at the Martin Luther King and Loop 121 intersection,” said City Engineer Angellia Points, P.E.
The project was designed to have an east-to-west corridor that connects Belton’s Main Street to Loop 121. Since Main Street is lined with many historical homes, the City of Belton is not permitted to expand the street. By connecting Main Street to Loop 121, an alternate route is provided to reduce the amount of traffic using Belton’s Main Street.
The project has been earmarked on the Master Plan since the 1980s but lack of funding prevented the construction process to begin. The gap caused by the Nolan Creek requires the construction of a bridge which is what forced the cost of the project to be expensive; making the project the biggest infrastructure for Belton.
KPA Engineers of Temple designed the bridge to compliment the Main Street bridge which is located further down the Nolan Creek. Look-out points have been added to the design for passengers by to view the creek below. An eleven-space parking lot was added to provide an access point for kayaks to the Nolan Creek Nature Trail. The road itself will have a single lane on each side with no traffic lights interrupting traffic from the beginning to the end.
Along with what is now known as the MLK Project, the city of Belton is currently working on the Nolan Creek Trunk Sewer and the Connell St. Drainage Projects.
Future projects include the intersection of Sparta Rd. and Commerce Rd. becoming a round-about and repaving portions of Main Street.
For more information on the project, please visit www.beltontexas.gov.