By JUDY SHERIDAN
Parker County commissioners awarded an $8.5 million construction contract for the final phase of the Ric Williamson Memorial Highway — the Interstate 20 interchange — to low bidder Ed Bell Construction Company Wednesday.
The award, contingent on TxDOT approval, puts the project at $1.275 million under budget for the entire five-phase RWMH project.
Commissioners also authorized transportation bond funds of up to $1.1 million to improve drainage at the intersection of State Highway 199 and SH 51 in Springtown, directing Freese & Nichols to make the bond budget adjustments and submit them for court approval.
The money is in addition to the money already spent on the project’s design.
The RWMH I-20 interchange project includes demolition of an existing bridge and the construction of a new bridge and a new diamond interchange.
It also includes drainage improvements, excavation/embankments and new concrete frontage roads.
Chris Bosco, of Freese & Nichols, said the project will begin in May and take about a year to complete.
The biggest challenge will be managing traffic during the bridge’s construction, he said.
“The key is we can’t have I-20 traffic running while they’re placing the beams,” he said, “so the way it’s phased is to build the frontage roads and the ramps first, and we’ll actually be routing traffic on the ramps and frontage roads while they place the beams across I-20.”
An ongoing challenge, he said, is getting Oncor lines and a fiber-optic communications line relocated.
Before the court voted to direct funds to the Springtown project, Riley told commissioners that improving the intersection there was initially in the transportation bond master plan, but later studies by Freese & Nichols showed the cost to be prohibitive, even with contributions from the county, city and state combined.
As a result, TxDOT recommended the project be done in phases, he said, with the drainage work first. “So what I think we need to do — we did include that as part of our bond list — is do that drainage, and Springtown has offered to split it, so we’re looking at a max of $1.1 million or so.
“Even if that intersection was not completed for X years into the future, it’s going to be a benefit,” he said, “because it’s going to channel that water properly, and it’s going to be less likely to flood that intersection.”
Springtown City Administrator Mark Krey said the drainage problem is a constant issue, and the city is excited to have the opportunity to address it.
Pct. 1 Commissioner George Conley also expressed his support.
“I feel like we, the county, need to step up and help the City of Springtown with the next three or four phases ... with the flood problems,” he said.