By JUDY SHERIDAN
The barricades stop southbound traffic on the Ric Williamson Memorial Highway at Ranger Highway. But the pavement continues, stopping just short of Interstate 20.
It was there that local government, business and project officials, along with invited guests, on Tuesday celebrated the beginning of construction of the fifth and final phase of the western loop, which accounted for half of the $80 million transportation bond voters approved in 2008. Speeches were made and ground was broken for the $40 million highway’s final 1.4 miles and new diamond interchange with I-20, as those attending could see and hear interstate traffic passing nearby.
The phase is also the last bond project to get under way. It was originally scheduled to be finished in 2013, but is now scheduled for completion in the summer of 2014.
Melissa Williamson Meyer, Ric Williamson’s daughter, introduced her husband, Randy, and son, Jack, and thanked county officials for including her family in every milestone event.
“We can see I-20. This is awesome,” Meyer told the cheering crowd. “We all know how fast this has happened in the world of transportation and politics.
“I am thankful to God for giving my father an innovating desire which trickled out to our county, which is fantastic. I’m looking forward to the last and biggest step.”
John Cordary, area engineer for TxDOT, offered his congratulations. He said Fort Worth District Engineer Maribel Chavez uses the relationships developed while working in Parker County as a role model for other communities.
“Hats off to you,” Weatherford Mayor Dennis Hooks said. “Thank you for partnering with the City of Weatherford. We’re one step closer to getting traffic off the square. What you’ve gotten done so far has exceeded my expectations.”
County Judge Mark Riley touted the new highway’s expected improvements to mobility, air quality and economic development and credited Williamson with getting the ball rolling for the project in 2004.
After sharing how the process of building the highway has introduced him to dealing with state and federal agencies, the judge appeared to reference an attempt by the Federal Highway Administration to claim review authority over much of the road using the National Environmental Protection Act, an attempt Riley was able to limit.
“I have one political statement,” he told the crowd. “The process from Washington to Austin has to change. It’s not a matter of saying we just don’t like regulations; it’s a matter of saving the taxpayers of this country billions and billions of dollars.
“We can do it without harming the water. We can do it without harming nature. But when the bureaucrats control the process that we have to work through, that is wrong ...
“I think it’s time that everybody be sensitive to that process.”
Construction of the first phase of the RWMH, from State Highway 51 to FM 920, began in January of 2011, and the road was officially opened a year later. The loop is now open to traffic from SH 51 south to Ranger Highway.
The highway is named after a late former chairman of the Texas Transportation Commission and 14-year member of the Texas House of Representatives.
By JUDY SHERIDAN
- Aledo ExtrA
Man dies in Farmer Road crash
A 60-year-old Parker County man was killed around 9:30 a.m. April 15 in a one-vehicle crash in the 2100 block of FM Road 3325, also known as Farmer Road.
Fire victims' fund established
Two streets down and hours after many members of the East Parker County community gathered April 5 to present a new home built with donations to the Hancock family, another family in the West Oak subdivision lost their home to a fire and is now in need of support from the community.
Delay adds $56,000 to Aledo Trail project
The long delay in the Aledo Trail downtown couplet, now due to finish in summer instead of spring, will add about $56,000 to the cost of the project, Parker County commissioners learned last week, when they approved a change order upping the contract to around $3.3 million.
Parker County Sheriff's Report March 31-April 11
Theft of property
A deputy was dispatched to 8600 Interstate 20 East, Aledo, in reference to a theft investigation. The 57-year-old male complainant said an unknown suspect stole $1,000 of copper wire from the Sprint tower on the site. A case was made for the theft of property: aluminum, bronze, copper and brass.
East Parker County Calendar of Events
Bearcats ‘N Boots Gala: dinner, auction and entertainment
• 6:30 p.m. at Cendera Center, 3600 Benbrook Highway, Fort Worth.
• Catered by The Wild Mushroom; entertainment by Four Day Weekend.
• Tickets cost $100.
• Benefitting the Aledo ISD Education Foundation
• Title sponsor Buford-Thompson Company.
• For more information, go to aledoef.org.
EXTENSION NEWS: Take a mind vacation
For many of us, every day has some sort of stress associated with it. Whether it is something at home or at work, it seems like there are a million things stressing us out and making us feel overwhelmed.
VETERANS’ CORNER: Veterans’ needs the target of recent discussions
Ministers responsible for Veterans Affairs and officials from Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States completed a series of meetings April 8-11 at the United States Military Academy at West Point, N.Y., discussing the latest research, best practices and various areas of collaboration to address the growing needs of veterans.
ASK A MASTER GARDENER: Blooming natives add color to Texas landscapes
Here are this week’s gardening questions and answers, provided by Parker County Master Gardeners. To submit a question, send it to firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information about Parker County Master Gardeners, or to become a member, call 817-598-6096 or visit www.pcmg-texas.org.
Canyon West to host Taste of Parker County
Prepare your taste buds, because the sixth annual Taste of Parker County is just a few short weeks away, and this year’s event has moved to a larger location to accommodate even more great eats and treats.
Grand jury indictments for April returned
A Parker County grand jury on Thursday indicted a man accused of breaking into his neighbor’s home and threatening him with a BB gun before engaging in a brief standoff with deputies.
- More Aledo ExtrA Headlines
- Man dies in Farmer Road crash