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Groundbreaking ceremony for Texas 199 in Azle

Robert Spracklen, shown here in February 2016, was severly injured in a March 2012 auto accident at this spot on Texas 199, which is also known as Jacksboro Highway. Road work to improve the area and make it safer is scheduled to begin early next year, state officials said.
Robert Spracklen, shown here in February 2016, was severly injured in a March 2012 auto accident at this spot on Texas 199, which is also known as Jacksboro Highway. Road work to improve the area and make it safer is scheduled to begin early next year, state officials said. Star-Telegram

A $56 million revamping of Texas 199 near Azle is scheduled to begin early next year, Texas Department of Transportation officials said.

The plan calls for the road, also known as Jacksboro Highway, to be widened to three lanes in each direction between Western Center Boulevard and Nine Mile Bridge. That’s about a 3-mile corridor that has become known as a death zone by Azle and Lake Worth motorists because of the dangers created by poor design and a lack of space for a growing number of cars.

On Wednesday, more than a dozen local leaders attended a groundbreaking ceremony just off Texas 199 near Tenderfoot Trail, north of the Fort Worth Nature Center & Refuge and just south of the Azle city limits. The groundbreaking comes just weeks before the Texas Department of Transportation is scheduled to award a contract to get the work going.

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.

The improvements also include three new lanes in each direction, ramps and bridges at Western Center Boulevard, Hanger Cut-Off and Nine Mile Bridge.

Making it a priority

Dignitaries included 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 this week 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 project or others statewide may visit texasclearlanes.com.

Crashes change man’s life

During a February news conference along the same stretch of Texas 199, Geren and other dignitaries talked about the effort involved in getting funding for the project. At that time, Azle resident Robert Spracklen spoke publicly about 2012 a crash that left him with permanent severe injuries.

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 early 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.

Gordon Dickson: 817-390-7796, @gdickson

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