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
Christmas Tyme in Aledo rescheduled
Due to the wintry weather predicted for the area, Aledo city officials have decided to postpone Christmas Tyme in Aledo from Saturday, Dec. 7, to Saturday, Dec. 14. The event will be held from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. with most activities centered in the historic downtown area.
Aledo ISD playoff game cancelled
The Aledo Bearcat AAAA Divison II State Quarter Final football playoff game set for tonight, Thursday, Dec. 5, has been cancelled due to weather conditions.
All-district volleyball - Classes 5A-4A-3A
Parker County volleyball polished off another stellar district-play year in November. The counties’ schools netted two outright district titles, a district co-champion, a district runner-up and a playoff-qualifying third-place finisher.
Celebrity cutters lined up for Friday’s Careity benefit
For more than a decade now, one event has served as a big help for the Careity Foundation in terms of funds and donations.
The National Weather Service in Fort Worth has issued a winter storm warning for freezing rain and sleet across North and West Texas, including Parker County, for the period 6 p.m. Thursday through 6 p.m. Friday.
Bearcats to encounter Coyotes, wintry threat
Aledo vs. Wichita Falls High
Time: 6 p.m., Thursday
Site: Northwest ISD Stadium — 18501 Hwy 114, Justin
Type: Class 4A, Division II, Quarterfinal (Region I final)
Last year: Did not play
Aledo ISD football playoff game rescheduled
The Aledo ISD AAAA Divison II State Quarter Final Football Playoff game has been rescheduled to Thursday, Dec. 5, at 6 p.m.
Hancock runs in Thanksgiving Trot
Heart transplant recipient and teen Dylan Hancock, who will receive the proceeds from this year's Thanksgiving Trot for a new home, ran in the 1-mile event in the Aledo area on Thanksgiving Day alongside mentor and friend Rob Helms.
Parker County jail facility under discussion
Community Education Centers, the company Parker County contracts with to manage the Parker County Jail, has offered to build a work-release low-security jail facility for the county free of charge.
Parker County earthquake tally rises
Two more minor earthquakes rattled northeast Parker County Tuesday, Nov. 26, bringing the total number of earthquakes last month to 17.
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