— By JUDY SHERIDAN
A progress report on the Eastern Loop around Weatherford and the loop’s future interchange with Interstate 20 near Center Point Road was a highlight of Parker County commissioners’ court Monday.
Chris Bosco, of Freese and Nichols, told commissioners the engineering firm expects to submit a schematic design, traffic study and environmental assessment on the interchange to TxDOT next month, schedule a public meeting on the project this summer and let it out for bids in 2015.
An ongoing study to determine the path of the loop, funded through a cost savings from the 2008 Transportation Bond projects, should be completed this year, Bosco said. The loop will link Interstate 20 to FM Road 51.
Parker County has been working closely with TxDOT, the North Central Texas Council of Governments and the cities of Weatherford and Hudson Oaks as it moves forward, resulting in a joint study that will improve efficiency and scheduling and ease future construction, according to Bosco.
“Hudson Oaks was planning a frontage road between Center Point Road and Lakeshore, and we’re trying to do the Center Point interchange,” he said. ”Essentially from a study standpoint we’re overlapping each other, so the real benefits are it’s more efficient to combine them.
“The other is scheduling. You’re not having two review processes through TxDOT; you have one environmental review. Both entities aren’t having to compete. And we can phase the project when we go out to construction.”
A key milestone in moving ahead has been getting the project funded, Bosco said.
“We knew we had $7 million that was really savings because we got the pass-through funding on the I-20 interchange,” he said, “but as we started to define the scope we realized $7 million wasn’t going to quite get the project built.
“The judge had a number of meetings with NCTCOG discussing additional funding, and in October the Regional Transportation Council provided another $3 million, so now we have a total of $10 million to do the interchange at Center Point.”
Bosco said Freese and Nichols have worked with NCTCOG and TxDOT to make sure their plan matches the plan that the county and both cities have for that project.
In other business, the court:
• Approved a change order from Freese and Nichols for the Ric Williamson Memorial Highway interchange resulting in a $7,000 project credit. The order added $9,000 to replace temporary traffic buttons on the Interstate 20 detour that were sheared off by workers clearing ice off the road, but subtracted $16,000 by eliminating 800 feet of metal beam guard fence at the top of the embankment. Completion of the interchange is now scheduled for June, Bosco said.
• Rejected a recommendation from Freese and Nichols to award a bid of $727,695 (with alternates) to low bidder Jay Mills Contracting Inc. for refurbishing Old Brock Road between Dennis Road and the landfill. The original budget with contingency is about $398,000 and Precinct 3 was to contribute $186,000, requiring about $200,000 from Transportation Bond program contingencies.
“We’ve looked at it long and hard because, obviously, Old Brock Road is one of the most highly traveled roads that we have here,” Precinct No. 3 Commissioner Larry Walden said. “We need to look at some of the alternatives because of the above-the-base-bid factors that are in there. So at this point I’m going to move that we reject the bids. We’re looking at other options.”
• Heard Bosco report that a study on drainage improvements planned for Main Street in Springtown would be completed in March with construction to begin this summer. The county and city are partnering in the project, each contributing $1.1 million for the study and the construction of channel improvements on either side of the Walnut Creek bridge.