By CHRIS AGEE | Lone Star News Group
MINERAL WELLS – Parker County Judge Mark Riley gave Mineral Wells residents an update Tuesday on the Ric Williamson Memorial Highway project.
Riley was invited to speak at the The Mineral Wells Area Chamber of Commerce’s first quarterly Power of Business Luncheon at Holiday Hills County Club.
“I’m not going to focus on how we got where we are,” Riley said, briefly detailing the 2004 feasibility study conducted by the Texas Department of Transportation and the citizen-approved bond measure passed four years later.
The project is being completed on an estimated five-year timeline, Riley explained, noting the loop connecting to Interstate 20 will result in a significant reduction in traffic congestion.
“A lot of pass-through traffic will go to the loop,” he said of the bottleneck surrounding the courthouse in Weatherford.
He said a portion of the highway is complete and more work is currently under way.
“We’ve opened up from Highway 51 to Highway 180,” he said. “It should be open from 180 to Ranger Highway by April or so.”
The loop’s connection to I-20 is set to be complete by mid-2014, he added.
Riley explained the importance of the highway to local residents, noting the economy of Mineral Wells will see a benefit from the improved roadway.
“You have a lot of commuters,” he said, indicating those traveling from Palo Pinto County east for work will enjoy an easier drive. “More importantly, it provides opportunity for economic development here.”
He noted Wolters Industrial Park, comprised of property in Parker County and the City of Mineral Wells, represents possibilities for future economic growth.
“I believe there are opportunities there,” he said, indicating the two entities can work together on such projects.
Riley expressed his pleasure with the engineering firm Freese and Nichols Inc. in working to keep the project operating under budget and on time. He said there have been a few delays and setbacks along the way, though.