The newly finished Phase II portion of the Ric Williamson Memorial Highway — from FM 920 to just north of US 180 — will remain closed to the public for the next four-and-a-half months, until the Texas Department of Transportation finishes its work on the road’s intersection with US 180, Parker County commissioners determined Monday.
Judge Mark Riley and commissioners George Conley, Craig Peacock and Dusty Renfro voted in favor of the motion not to open the road yet. Commissioner John Roth was absent.
TxDOT began work on the signalized at-grade intersection earlier this month and has reduced traffic on the existing road to one lane in each direction. The project will be complete at the beginning of January, TxDOT Public Information Officer Val Lopez said.
Lopez said the intersection project was “nearly in sync” with the RWMH project managed by Freese and Nichols, now awaiting its final punchlist.
“The county has been working on this project for several years,” Lopez said. “It’s only a few months of not working in conjunction with the new highway.”
Judge Mark Riley told the court that area residents worried that opening the new road now would channel heavy traffic onto Old Mineral Wells Highway — which it intersects — while the work on US 180 was still ongoing.
“Residents have expressed concerns about safety issues if we open it up and US 180’s not ready yet,” Riley said. “So this is a suggestion that we don’t open it until it’s open all the way through US 180.”
“Residents like that; there’s less traffic on their local road,” he said. ”Trucks would be coming through there, and county roads are not designed for all that.”
Old Mineral Wells Highway resident Ed Barone said the court made the right decision.
“I suggested that we not open it a while back,” he said. “We don’t need the heavy trucks coming down our street; the road’s not wide enough, and children play on it.”
Another portion of the RWMH, being constructed from just south of US 180 to Spur 312, may also be finished by January, representatives from Freese and Nichols told the court Monday.
Construction on the southern portion began in January and is due to be finished by the end of next January, Brett Calvert, of Freese and Nichols said. But it may be delayed a month due to the number of gas lines that had to be relocated.