By CHRISTIN COYNE
WILLOW PARK – The new westbound Interstate 20 415 exit in Willow Park opened Thursday, about a mile east of the exit ramp it is replacing.
The ramp reversal is expected to address safety concerns, according to the Texas Department of Transportation. During peak westbound traffic hours, it was not uncommon for traffic to back up onto main interstate lanes because the older exit was close to the intersection of Mikus Road/Farm-to-Market Road 5.
The East Parker County Chamber of Commerce, Willow Park city leaders and area developers have also expressed excitement about the new exit ramp’s location because it opens up a corridor on the north frontage road for development.
The new location facilitates Texas Health Resources’ plans to develop an emergency room and medical center at the intersection of Crown Pointe Boulevard and the north interstate service road and provide better access to ongoing projects planned for the area, including the Village at Crown Park apartment complex, Willow Park Rehabilitation and Care Center, an assisted-living facility and Willow Park Baptist Church’s expansion.
Developer Jim Martin and his business, which sold about 80 acres in 2011 for area development, put $2 million towards the transportation project, a requirement for the proposed hospital because it would give emergency vehicles better access to the facility.
Jay Mills Contracting began work on the 2.2-mile, $2.4 million project in November.
After the exit ramp was opened Thursday, workers were expected to close down the older exit and begin removing its signage. The removal process is expected to last about two weeks, according to TxDOT Area Engineer John Cordary.
Officials hope to complete a similar project for the westbound Ranch House Road exit in Willow Park though funding for those plans has yet to be located.