Department representatives and other officials will gather at a private ribbon cutting ceremony this morning and the roadway is expected to open for drivers by the afternoon commute, spokesman Larry Krantz said.
Segment 3A is the fifth segment of the two-lane toll project to open. The combined segments will connect Highway 31 to Texas Highway 110 near Whitehouse. Construction on the eight mile, $38 million segment began in 2009. It will be free to drivers through Dec. 3.
Jeff Austin III, a Texas Transportation commissioner, said the ultimate connection, Segment 3B, which will allow drivers to access Interstate 20, will be the major connection. Segment 3B is slated to open next spring.
Following completion of segments 1 and 2 in 2006 and 2008, respectively, the North East Texas Regional Mobility Authority sought funding to complete the prized connection to I-20. A poor economy put the project in jeopardy as transportation funding for projects statewide slowed.
A $90 million loan from TxDOT bolstered construction efforts and have put the project back on schedule.
Austin said early in the process drivers commuting between U.S. Highway 69 and I-20 were estimated to save 20 to 25 minutes. He said because of traffic congestion he estimates time savings to be greater.
Traffic on the road is expected to double each time a section opens, Austin said, but the connection to I-20 could spur future projects and expand the two-lane toll road to four lanes sooner than expected.
“Connection to I-20 is expected to bring more business activity and job creation,” Austin said. “There is potential for more distribution-type facilities, manufacturing investment and residential development.”