FLORENCE, Texas (KXAN) – In Williamson County, State Highway 195 from Florence to the Bell County line was supposed to open this week. But miles of copper wire stolen from the highway construction project is leading to big delays.
Drivers were supposed to have access to the road just a couple of days ago. Now, because of criminals stealing copper from inside street lights, a spokeswoman for TXDOT says it’s not safe for drivers to be on the road.
Many business owners in Florence have been eager for the new stretch of Highway 195 to open. Mitch Gower owns Florence Grain just off the new road and hopes the increased traffic will mean more traffic in his parking lot.
“It’s a mess here in town in the mornings and there’s a lot of truck traffic on these roads. It’ll help divert that around tow.” He adds, “Just from a financial standpoint the more people you have coming by the more opportunities there are to sell stuff.”
Jeff Daniel is opening this convenience store also right next to the new highway.
“In the process of building it I’ve had metal stuff stolen from it,” He says. “You’re trying to do something good for the community and then you’ve got thieves trying to take advantage of you.”
Nearly two years ago, KXAN told you how many drivers considered this a dangerous road which is the reason for the new and improved highway. The highway is expected to open by mid-October.
Because the project has not opened to traffic yet, TxDOT tells us the cost of replacing the copper will be incurred by the contractor.
Just like the rest of Central Texas roads, even 195 in a rural part of Williamson County is seeing a lot more traffic and quickly. To give you some perspective, back in 2012 about 10,000 cars passed through 195 just north of Florence and about 9,000 cars cross into or from Bell County. Just one year later in 2013, the number of people driving 195 near Florence shot up by 22 percent. The number of people passing through the Bell County line went up 12 percent.