Cleburne Times-Review, Cleburne, TX

Cleburne

December 21, 2011

Leaders break ground for Chisholm Trail Parkway — Video included

County leaders and residents filtered into the Cleburne Conference Center on Tuesday to witness and celebrate the groundbreaking of Chisholm Trail Parkway.

Some audience members smiled and appeared to let out a sigh of relief that the trail’s construction was finally about to begin.  

“I hope I can project the excitement about this event today,” said Johnson County Judge Roger Harmon. “This is the single most important event for the area since the railroads came to Cleburne.”

Harmon also said he expects a tremendous economic change to happen in the county because of the new roadway.

He continued by saying approval of the roadway would have never happened if it weren’t for all the cities and state agencies working together over decades to build relationships.  

“The most important thing you have is relationships and this roadway would’ve never been accomplished if had not been for all the people working on it,” he said. “All the past mayors and city managers all had a part in it.”

The trail at one time almost didn’t happen, he said. But the city and county leaders continued to stay focused and did their parts to see it through, he said.

More than 70 people attended the ceremonial groundbreaking. The audience was made up of current and past mayors, commissioners, city managers and other leaders and residents.

Cleburne Mayor Justin Hewlett also spoke at the event. He joked about how he once heard about the parkway as a kid. He said he used to dream about one day driving on the parkway once he received his driver’s license as a teen.

“Now I’m just hoping it’s finished before they take my license away,” he said.

In a little more than two and a half years, the Chisholm Trial Parkway is poised to greatly enhance mobility in the region, said Kenneth Barr, North Texas Tollway Authority chairman.

“The drivers of Fort Worth, Tarrant and Johnson counties have waited a long time for this much-needed thoroughfare — more than four decades,” he said.

The ceremonial groundbreaking took place outside the conference center where representatives from Johnson County, Cleburne, Texas Senate, Texas House of Representatives, NTTA all had a hand in tossing the first few grains of dirt.

Contractors got the green light to begin construction on the long-awaited extension of Texas 121 in November.

“We sent notices out … basically telling the contractors to ‘Have at it boys. Start building,’” said tollway spokesman Michael Rey.

The toll road project, which will connect Fort Worth and Cleburne, will be built in six sections.

Granite Construction Inc. was issued notice to proceed on a $181 million contract by the NTTA to construct Section 6 of the new parkway.

Section 6 of the project extends Texas 121 from Fort Worth south 13 miles to Cleburne.

“We’re still looking at a 2014 completion date,” Rey said.

Chisholm Trail Parkway, formerly called Southwest Parkway, will run from downtown Fort Worth to U.S. 67 in Cleburne.

Road closures and detours have already been posted on the authority’s website and will update daily, according to the site, www.ntta.org.

Elizabeth Mow, tollway authority projects development director, said she anticipates construction will begin before Christmas.

The estimated $1.6 billion project would likely be completed by mid-2014. The Texas Department of Transportation is also constructing $147 million in mobility improvements at I-20 in Fort Worth and U.S. 67 in Cleburne to accommodate future interchanges with the Chisholm Trail Parkway.

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