New TxDOT Study Recommends Hearne Bypass
TxDOT recently completed a multi-year feasibility study that assessed the benefits and impacts of
implementing US190 highway improvements along a local route that zigzags from Cameron, to Milano,
through Hearne, towards Bryan, then to Madisonville. While this study concludes that an east/west
interstate-type highway is NOT feasible, widening/upgrading US190 to a four-lane highway with a median
is TxDOT’s preferred option.
Providing a blueprint for proposed future actions, the study’s findings are a long way from becoming
reality. TxDOT is quick to point out that there is no funding currently available for these local projects and
that no one is working on them. If things change and future funding becomes available, these projects
have been identified as ones that should be considered at that time.
Study recommendations to be considered for funding and implementation between now and 2040
No expansion of TX6 between Hearne and Bryan is recommended since the existing four lanes are
considered adequate to handle TX6 traffic capacity for the foreseeable future. (The City of Hearne,
however, has been urging TxDOT to use any available “safety” monies to address accident-prone areas
on this highway). The addition of travel lanes and/or passing lanes from Hearne to Milano is identified as
a potential project to be considered by 2040.
A “relief route” (bypass) around Hearne is identified as a potential project to be considered by
2030. Should Hearne ever get a bypass, it will join the ranks of other bypassed central Texas towns
(Navasota, Bryan/College Station, Marlin, Reagan, Riesel, and Taylor). A Rockdale bypass was planned
but never built. Calvert has been lobbying for a bypass for years.
Rumors of a Hearne bypass have been around for a while. TxDOT’s recently published study results,
however, represent the first time in recent years that a formal written proposal has emerged from TxDOT.
Assuming that funding from a financially-strapped TxDOT is eventually obtained, a 2030 target date for a
bypass gives the city time to plan.
When TxDOT originally proposed a Hearne bypass several years ago, it was to have connected with TX6
about Pin Oak Creek where it would northwestwardly loop across the Little Brazos River until it reached
the FM50/US79 intersection. It was to have proceeded past the Hearne Airport, across FM485, then
connect just north of AMA’s at the TX6/US79 interchange.
In recent years, Hearne has been capitalizing on ever-increasing north/south TX6 traffic volumes. While
today’s TX6 count near FM485 is conservatively estimated at about 21,000 vehicles a day, this figure is
expected to rise to some 37,000 vehicles a day in twenty years.
Vastly increased traffic is to be expected on an improved east/west US190/I-10 corridor that stretches
from New Mexico to Louisiana and passes through our part of central Texas. Recently estimated at some
13,000 vehicles a day near the RCEMS station, the US190 count is expected to double to at least 26,000
vehicles a day in the next twenty years (that’s before any improvements).
A potential Hearne bypass presents new challenges and opportunities. Like other bypassed towns,
drastically diminished highway traffic coming through town will significantly hurt lots of local businesses.
Some local residents, however, might welcome decreased traffic on Brown and Market streets
(particularly at heavy travel times). Land acquisition issues will undoubtedly arise.
Should a bypass ever be built, Hearne will need to both entice drivers to come into town as well as
develop new areas. Since much of the land around a potential bypass is outside the Hearne city limits,
the city needs to develop and implement a multi-year annexation plan beginning with the Hearne Airport,
Camp Hearne, and Hearne Industrial Park.
Anyone who has driven west on US79 has seen the major highway improvements between Thorndale
and Round Rock. Several years ago, our local TxDOT office was working on plans to expand US79 from
Hearne to Rockdale. With no funding available to implement this project, the design work was halted.
Since repairing and widening the US79 Little Brazos River bridge really needed to get done, this smaller
project survived the budget ax and was isolated from the much larger endeavor. While TxDOT was
hoping to start building this bridge this fall, right of way issues have forced it to redesign this bridge before
construction can begin.
With TX6 between Hearne and Calvert nearing completion, this Robertson County highway work is the
final leg of a multi-year TxDOT project to build a divided four-lane highway from Waco to Hempstead with
Hearne smack dab in the middle.
ftp://ftp.dot.state.tx.us/pub/txdot-info/tpp/us_190/news_0412.pdf under “Potential Relief Routes & Passing
Lanes”. This is from TxDOT’s website from an April 2012 newsletter on the US190/I-10 corridor.
This second link shows where it actually is on TxDOT’s website.