The segment connects with existing Toll 49 at FM 756 (Paluxy Drive), which runs west to SH 155 (Frankston Highway), where Segment 3A is still under construction and expected to be open by the end of October.
"It's an exciting time for us, and for East Texas," said TxDOT spokesman Larry Krantz. "We're finally starting to realize the potential this project promised when we opened the first segment."
Toll 49 opened its first segment, between US 69 and SH 155, in August 2006. Segment 2 extended the toll road to FM 756 in January 2008. Once segments 3A and 5 are open, Toll 49 will stretch approximately 16 miles between SH 31 west of Tyler and SH 110 southeast of Tyler, essentially from Chandler to Whitehouse.
Electronic toll collection on Segment 5 will begin in August.
"In the meantime," Krantz added, "It's free to drive on Toll 49 between SH 110 and FM 756 (Paluxy Drive). Once tolling begins, it will cost 25 cents with a TxTAG to drive the new segment."
Segment 3B of Toll 49, which will connect SH 31 west of Tyler and IH 20 near Hide-A-Way Lake, is scheduled to open by the end of 2013, according to the NETRMA, which is overseeing its construction.
The $15.6 million Segment 5 project was made possible by funding from Proposition 14, which borrows money against future gas tax revenues to push projects forward.
Proposition 14 funding for several projects across the state was awarded on a competitive basis.
"The light has finally turned green on this segment," Krantz said in a February 2010 release when the project broke ground. "We thought we'd secured funding for this project several times, only to see it slip away for one reason or another."
The same was true for Segment 3A, a 6-mile piece running west of Tyler from SH 155 to SH 31, which broke ground in 2009 thanks to an infusion of economic stimulus money.
"This entire Toll 49 project has been a long time coming," Krantz said. "And we wouldn't have made it this far without our partnerships with the City of Tyler, Smith County and the NETRMA, among many others."