Harker Heights, Killeen, Copperas Cove, Nolanville growth grants cities greater project control

By Kim Steele

Killeen Daily Herald

HARKER HEGHTS — The Harker Heights City Council learned Tuesday that because of population growth, four cities in Central Texas will be bumped up to a new designation by the Federal Highway Administration.

Jim Reed, executive director of the Central Texas Council of Governments, explained that change in status for Harker Heights, Killeen, Copperas Cove and Nolanville will require new choices. Currently, the four cities are classified by FHA as a Non-Traffic Management Area, or Non-TMA.

The four cities will be reclassified as a Traffic Management Area after the final 2010 Census results come out next spring, which will place their combined population above 200,000.

Texas has eight TMA groups, including Dallas, San Antonio, Austin and Houston, and there are 17 Non-TMA groups in the state that all have census populations of less than 50,000.

Being designated a TMA, said Reed, will give the four cities greater control over the selection process for transportation projects and access to a larger pot of money, but competition will be fierce.

“The results of the census will be coming out, and they will impact Harker Heights and these other cities,” he said. “It’s certain that because of the population increase, you will jump into the deep water. You’ll go from being the biggest fish in a small pond to the smallest fish in a big pond.”

The Belton-based CTCOG is the manager and fiscal agent for the Killeen-Temple Metropolitan Planning Organization, which consists of the four cities, Temple and Belton. The planning organization is the umbrella through which federal and state transportation funds flow.

As a designated TMA, the four cities will be able to choose their fiscal agents, said Reed, noting CTCOG has handled KTMPO’s money since the early 1970s. The deadline for making any fiscal agent changes is March. Reed said CTCOG would like to remain in its current position.

“It’s their choice and it always has been,” said Reed after the meeting. “Every 10 years, we revisit the subject so they know their options. I’m a firm believer in customers making their own decisions, and I wanted them to be fully aware of the situation.”