$18.2 million Chapel Road rebuild set to start next week


Rebuilding Chapel Road has become a long and winding project, and almost two years of construction is expected start next week. The $18.2 million project will rebuild and widen the two-lane road, creating a travel lane in each direction plus a central turn lane between Old Lorena Road and Ritchie Road.

The county engineering department will give an update on plans for the work and take input during a come-and-go public meeting from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. Monday at First Woodway Baptist Church, 101 N. Ritchie Road.

“Input will be taken into consideration to minimize negative impacts felt by construction activities,” McLennan County Engineer Zane Dunnam said.

Chapel Road long has been targeted for upgrades. From a traffic standpoint, it is located strategically within the Highway 84 growth corridor. A complete rebuild between Old Lorena Road and Ritchie Road has been discussed since before February 2016, when a contract was signed with Walker Partners for preliminary studies. Walker Partners inked another deal in April 2018 to begin examining the required engineering.

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Right-of-way acquisition began in December 2018, and utility relocation proceeded in 2022, Dunnam said by email.

“The road has been in need of reconstruction for over a decade and with the population growth in the area of Chapel Road, Ritchie Road, and Old Lorena Road, this section of the roadway is due for total reconstruction to allow for more traffic through this corridor,” Dunnam said.

Project costs now exceed $18.2 million, with the county paying $11.3 million and the city of Waco shelling out $6.8 million, Dunnam said.

The county is paying its portion from a $32 million bond issue that also covered widening of Ritchie Road from Park Place Drive to near Panther Way; rebuilding a four-mile stretch of Speegleville Road from State Highway 6 to the Bosque River; and widening Surrey Ridge Lane from I-35 to Moonlight Drive.

Dunnam said H&B Contractors likely will start work Thursday on Chapel Road. Crews will rebuild the existing two-lane road into a three-lane road, including a central turn lane. Part of the rebuilt road will have curbs and gutters with an underground storm sewer, while the rest will stick with ditches for drainage, he said.

“H&B Contractors will keep limited traffic flowing through the project limits for most of the work days,” Dunnam said. “However, there will be a short duration when a small section of the road will be closed completely to allow for the installation of a new stormwater drainage culverts at the low points in the road between Farmiller Road and Timber Ridge Trail.

“The full width of Chapel Road will have to be completely excavated to install the concrete box culverts at two locations.”

Even during the full closures to install culverts, all residents will have access to their homes via detours, Dunnam said.

He said all feedback, positive or negative, is welcome.

“All landowners within the project limits along Chapel Road have previously been notified of this project, many due to the purchase of right-of-way,” Dunnam said. “Most folks are wanting the upgrades to occur in order to allow for a more safe (and wider) road to travel.

“However, there are some along the Hambleton Road that do not want traffic to be detoured through their neighborhood.”

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