— By CHRISTIN COYNE
WILLOW PARK – The owner of a Willow Park medical facility is frustrated that an interstate highway exit ramp to assist with moving traffic in the eastern part of the city appears no closer to being built than when the issue was discussed by area leaders a decade ago.
Mike Farris, who built and owns two medical office centers on El Chico Road in Willow Park where 15 doctors see patients, said he wants to know what happened to the Ranch House Road exit ramp discussed by area officials over the course of 10 years.
“The project is still planned but has been put on hold due to funding,” Texas Department of Transportation Public Information Officer Natalie Galindo told the Democrat Thursday. “The estimated cost is $2 million. At this time, we don’t have a time table for when funding will be available.”
“When I built those buildings in ‘03, I worked with all the council members through the years and mayors here,” Farris told the Willow Park City Council Tuesday night, asking for answers about where the project is. “We had talked and TxDOT had discussed for all this time an off ramp, relieving the traffic off Ranch House Road and having two arteries into Willow Park.”
Through the years, he’s been in touch with TxDOT and the city and has been getting all different kinds of information, Farris said.
“The last time I discussed this with ... TxDOT, they said it’s been taken totally off the schedule,” Farris said. “It’s my understanding that the off ramp would be built after the Hudson Oaks ramp.”
He’s been fielding questions from those affected, but Farris said he has run out of answers.
“I’m just appalled that it’s dropped off the radar and not being funded to be built,” Farris said.
The city has spent money in the past to move the project forward but current city leaders don’t intend to do so again.
Though the new ramp would be outside the city’s extra-territorial jurisdiction, a prior council under a prior mayor funded engineering for the project for about $65,000, according to city officials.
“At this point, the city isn’t going to do anything more,” Mayor Richard Neverdousky told Farris.
Neverdousky explained that “it was someone’s thought that the Fort Worth ETJ might get converted to Willow Park ETJ. That never happened. The terms were never completed.”
The similar Mikus Road/Farm-to-Market Road 5 ramp reversal project recently completed on the other end of the city was funded by a private developer, the mayor told Farris.