McLennan County leaders are moving forward with plans to improve Speegleville Road, Surrey Ridge Lane and Chapel Road in a projected $32 million project.

County commissioners last week approved directing Walker Partners LLC to prepare a study and report for Chapel Road after hearing an update on proposals to improve Speegleville Road and Surrey Ridge Lane, allowing increases to their speed limits.

Precinct 4 Commissioner Ben Perry said after meeting with Walker Partners more than a year ago to discuss Speegleville and Chapel roads, he asked which street warranted attention first.

Based on traffic studies and projected growth for the areas, the county couldn’t afford to pick one project over the other, Perry said.

“We need to get ahead of the curve instead of staying behind it,” Perry said.

He said the projected growth around the roads will increase the tax base enough to eventually pay for these projects.

Speegleville and Chapel roads are in Precinct 4, and Surrey Ridge is in Precinct 1.

Precinct 3 Commissioner Will Jones said it’s important these big-ticket projects are done at a time when the county can limit the impact to taxpayers. He said now is a great time to go to the bond market as interest rates are low.

Jones said he would like to see the county complete a comprehensive road project plan instead of moving from one project to the next. He said he knows the two bigger road projects in his precinct include Grady Calvery Drive and Jerry Mashek Drive in West. Jones said there are also certain areas of Elm Mott in need of attention, especially as the city looks to begin work on sewer and water lines.

“We all have good working relationships and want to see what’s best for the county as a whole,” Jones said about the court.

Jed Walker, president of Walker Partners, said the Chapel Road corridor is predicted to be one of the highest growth areas in the county, showing a growth rate three times the pace projected for the rest of the county.

The city of Waco has plans to put in a new water and wastewater line down Chapel Road. If the city project goes ahead before the county is ready to go on its road construction, the new waterlines would have to be rebuilt again if the road project moves forward, Walker said.

“I think it’s a good time for county and city to come together on that,” Walker said.

Walker Partners project manager Clark Gauer said proposed work on Speegleville Road will extend about four miles from State Highway 6 to the Bosque River. The speed limit on the road ranges from 35 mph to 45 mph, and the proposed new design would increase that speed to 60 mph. About 3,000 vehicles travel that stretch every day.

Walker Partners’ proposal also includes adding a parallel bridge to the existing 200-foot-long Hog Creek Bridge.

The current plan calls for the acquisition of 22 parcels to be converted to rights of way.

The Surrey Ridge renovations will stretch 7,000 feet, from Interstate 35 to Farm-to-Market Road 3148, also known as Moonlight Drive. The speed limit would be increased to 45 mph from 25 mph. Fewer than 2,000 vehicles a day travel the street. The project would require acquisition of six parcels.

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