Freese and Nichols engineering firm presented an update on Parker County transportation projects this week, primarily focusing on the East Loop project.
Chris Bosco, with Freese and Nichols, said the East Loop Phase 1 is operational and almost complete.
“One of the things they’re still working with the contractor on is getting grass established, some erosion control, at the culverts and that’s ongoing,” Bosco said. “It’s fully operational, we’re just trying to get grass established there in the ditches.”
East Loop Phase 1 runs from Interstate 20, Center Point Road, to U.S. Highway 180.
“That first phase looks pretty sharp,” Precinct 1 Commissioner George Conley said. “It turned out well.”
As for East Loop Phase 2, which will run through the historic Byron Farmstead, Bosco said they are still going through public feedback that was received at a meeting in February. The meeting was held to gain public comments on the effects on the nationally-registered 85.5-acre historic farmstead on Meadowview Road off of Farm-to-Market Road 730.
“We had the public meeting and we got public comments and so the work remaining to be done is to respond to those folks that provided public comments, and once we get through that process, then the idea would be that we would be able to move forward with Phase 2,” Bosco said. “That process is going to take some time because we’ll have more public coordination there — some more documentation for the court.”
Bosco said in the meantime, the United States Corps of Engineers went ahead and released East Loop Phase 3.
“We’ve been working with [the corps of engineers] on Phase 2 and there’s still more we need to do related to the historic property but a positive is the judge [Pat Deen] talked to the corps about releasing the other two phases,so we’re actually getting Phase 3 ready to bid at the end of May,” Bosco said. “We have no environmental hangups there so we’ll be able to start construction on it and those are big segments. There will be a lot of contractor activity and that will give us some time to keep working with the corps [on Phase 2].”
Conley asked Bosco if there was going to be a problem with getting Phase 2 finished concerning the historic farmstead.
Bosco said they didn't anticipate any other than some changes needing to be done on that property. The engineering firm is currently working with the corps on those.
“As I understood, they were looking at realignment of that, which I think we’ve got it off dead center now, but still within the confines of that project," Parker County Judge Pat Deen said.
Precinct 3 Commissioner Larry Walden wanted to remind the court and the public that no structures on the Byron Farmstead will be affected by the East Loop Phase 2 project.
“Every time this comes up I feel the need to mention that we aren’t disrupting any of the structures on the property,” Walden said. “I think sometimes that gets lost.”
The East Loop as a whole will connect I-20, east of Weatherford, around to Ric Williamson Memorial Highway at FM 51 North.
Two other county projects are well underway, with Bankhead Highway expected to open up next week.
“Bankhead Highway has turn lanes and culvert improvements, so we’re trying to get this opened by the end of next week,” Bosco said. “The contractor has the culverts in, but has to do some cleanup and get the paving in and the guardrail in on two remaining culverts.”
Work on the traffic light at the State 199 and FM 730 intersection was delayed but is scheduled to continue Monday.
“[The Texas Department of Transportation] gets back on that starting Monday,” Bosco said. “They had the contractor on hold while they worked through a change order, so they work they have remaining is a couple more weeks and then the light will be on a 30-day flash. We’re back on a schedule.”
Conley said he had received numerous phone calls about the project's delay.
“I have a lot of people on me about this one,” he said.
The county has also applied for a grant through TxDOT’s 2020 County Transportation Infrastructure Fund Grant Program, which provides funding to eligible counties for projects located in areas of the state affected by increased oil and gas production.
“We basically have a month to put that together, it’s a couple-page application. The calculated funds allocated for Parker County at the moment is $224,000 based on the formula they did. I think it’s advantageous to present the needs that you fully have and so if that’s $1 million, that’s worth doing because not every county will apply for this and so there could be a reallocation of the available funds,” Bosco said. “It is a 20% match. I cant work with you to identify which roads you want to put on there and come back at the next court for approval of the match, and that’s due May 27, so we’ll be way ahead of that.”
There's an estimate of $250 million in total grant funds available through TxDOT's program.
For more information about county transportation projects, visit parkercountytransportation.com.