Published May 1, 2014
By David Tuma, Journal reporter
The City of Belton has been working with the Texas Department of Transportation on widening Hwy. 317 at the north end of the city near the Leon River, starting at the intersection with FM 439. The turning lane leaving Lake Road going toward downtown Belton has been closed and will be moved further west. As Belton becomes the premier place to live in Bell County, growing pains are a common occurrence. The project is 0.7 miles of roadway that will be widened to four lanes from its current two lanes and will also include turn lanes on both sides throughout the area.
The City of Belton moved the utilities to the area in January. Total cost of the project is $3.8 million. The project began in June of last year and is expected be completed this summer.
The bridge across Nolan Creek at the low water crossing near the Harris Center that will be part of the extension of the Nolan Creek has been installed. The trail crossing the creek at that point and continues on to the UMHB campus and eventually all the way to Loop 121 creating one of the most spectacular walking trails (near a downtown area) in Texas.
The bridge is a Warren Pony Truss-type bridge and it is longer and wider than people might realize. The bridge, which is currently at Ellis-McGinnis Construction Co. near Moody, is 70 feet long and almost 18 feet wide. It was built in 1900 and was over Polecat Creek in Falls County on County Road 268. But what is going to become simply breathtaking is the fact that the pony bridge is just 70 feet of the 433-foot walking bridge over Nolan Creek. The bridge has a curve leading the low water point and is above the 100-foot flood plain.
“What is going to be impressive is when everything is in place,” said Paul Romer, Public Information Officer for the City of Belton. “When the trees are cleared the elevation of the bridge is going to give a view of Nolan Creek not possible before. The trail will lead to Martin Luther King Avenue and through the UMHB campus. The funding the crossing at the MLK Ave bridge has been approved and the planning stages are near complete”
“When this trail is complete it will start at Confederate Park near I-35 and connect with Loop 121.”
UMHB is going to open up Sparks Street for the trail and make the street part of the trail project. The street will be close to vehicle traffic. After the bridge crossing he creek there will be two trails at some points and the low water crossing will be taken out.
“The view will be spectacular. It is above the 100-year flood plain so it is high,” said Romer.
The City of Belton added a stop sign at the intersection of 2nd Ave and Birdwell. There have been several bad crashes at the intersection over the years and another wreck occurred in March. There are flags on the stop signs stopping traffic on Birdwell. Around 15 years ago the City put stop signs at 2nd Ave and Penelope stopping traffic on Penelope. It took several years for the near wrecks to stop. Just because the city put a stop sign at the intersection doesn’t mean the vehicles will stop.
Belton’s Central Avenue Fire Station replaced the 30-year old bay doors at the station recently. The doors were so old some parts could not be replaced. Total cost for the doors and insulation was $15,500. The Police Station expansion is on schedule and in the final planning stages.
The Water Recreation project is still pending approval by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. The closings of the low water crossings near the Harris Center and Confederate Park are part of that project. The works will be done by Public Works.