Preliminary work is under way for the expansion of Austin Avenue south of Norwood, but it will be almost two years - April 2013 - before the project goes out for bids.

"It's just in the preliminary stage," Eric Lykins, area engineer for the Brownwood District of the Texas Department of Transportation, said Wednesday. "It's a continuation of the expansion of Austin Avenue which has been ongoing for, I guess, 15 years or so."

Property owners in the area along Austin Avenue, which is also a state highway, FM 2524, have noticed that survey crews have placed stakes in yards, apparently marking rights-of-way.

"We don't anticipate buying any right-of-way at this time," Lykins said. The project should be able to be completed within the land that's already available for such a purpose.

The highway is scheduled to be expanded from Norwood to Brooks streets in a manner similar to what has already been completed on Austin Avenue closer to downtown, Lykins said.

First, however, the City of Brownwood will be relocating water and sewer lines so utilities will not be under the pavement of the expanded road.

"That's really needed," Lykins said, "so the highway doesn't have to be dug up when breaks occur. It's really difficult to get the surface back to the way it was when the pavement is broken to repair lines."

Other utility lines may also need moving.

Some homeowners in the neighborhood have called the Bulletin this week asking about the posts, speculating about a future road widening and expressing concern that trees or landscaping in the area that's been staked off might be removed.

Lykins said that sometimes during the course of such expansion projects especially through urban areas, some people have become upset that areas along the highway that are also in the right-of-way must be sacrificed to complete the expansion.