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Groundbreaking ceremony for Texas 199 in Azle

Motorists using Texas 199 in the Azle area may notice some unusual activity by the roadside Wednesday morning.

Several elected officials and other dignitaries are scheduled to attend a groundbreaking ceremony at 10 a.m. The event will be held just off Texas 199 near Tenderfoot Trail, north of the Fort Worth Nature Center & Refuge and just south of the Azle city limits.

I don’t want anyone else to go through this. You’re making a nice living in life, and all of a sudden one day you’re not able to.

Robert Sprecklen, Azle resident severely injured in Texas 199 crash.

Attendees are celebrating the beginning of a $56 million project that includes construction of three miles of Texas 199 freeway between Western Center Boulevard and Nine Mile Bridge. The improvements include three new lanes in each direction, ramps and bridges at Western Center Boulevard, Hanger Cut-Off and Nine Mile Bridge.

However, the event is mostly being held because Wednesday fits into many dignitaries’ schedules, a Texas Department of Transportation spokesman said. The actual contract for the work is scheduled to be awarded next month, and the construction is expected to begin early next year.

Making it a priority

Dignitaries expected to attend the event include Texas Transportation Commissioner J. Bruce Bugg Jr. of San Antonio, Tarrant County Judge Glen Whitley and Azle Mayor Alan Brundrett.

“This project has been a top priority in Azle for many years,” state Rep. Charlie Geren, R-Fort Worth, said in an email. “The additional highway lanes and bridges being constructed here will vastly improve mobility and safety along Highway 199. I am thankful for the hard work TxDOT has done to make this project possible.”

Residents who want more information about the Azle-area project or others statewide may visit texasclearlanes.com.

Crashes change man’s life

During a February news conference along Texas 199 in Azle, Geren and other dignitaries talked about the amount of effort involved in getting funding for the project. At that time, Azle resident Robert Spracklen spoke publicly about a crash on Texas 199, also known as Jacksboro Highway, in which he was severely injured in 2012.

It happened on a rainy day, when Spracklen was driving his pickup toward Lake Worth and a westbound driver lost control of his vehicle and spun into Spracklen’s lane.

“He was already facing in reverse when he hit me. He jumped over that itty-bitty, 2-inch-tall median and hit me broadside, ” said Spracklen, now in his earlyt 50s, who was then a maintenance manager for a large company.

Spracklen has been disabled ever since.

He said he is speaking out because he believes freeway-style improvements are needed to make the road safer.

“I don’t want anyone else to go through this,” he said. “You’re making a nice living in life, and all of a sudden one day you’re not able to.”

The Texas Department of Transportation is committing to making a series of improvements in the area, which extends from Farm Road 1886 (also known as Confederate Park Road) near Azle south to Loop 820, where Lake Worth meets Sansom Park and Fort Worth, Barth said.

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