After ten years of heated debate, construction is finally underway on the long awaited expansion of US 281 north of Loop 1604, News Radio 1200 WOAI reports.
It will be the first of two phases of the nearly $400 million project.
"You've heard that sign that has the line, 'there are miles and miles of Texas'," Gov. Abbott, who was among many dignitaries attending the groundbreaking, said. "When we get done, there's going to be miles and miles more."
TxDOT says it will not included toll lanes, but the project will include High Occupancy Vehicle lanes built between the two existing main roads between Evans Road and Stone Oak Parkway, with long awaited overpasses at Redland, Encino Rio, Evans, and Stone Oak to prevent through traffic from having to stop at red lights.
The project will also include four new main lanes of traffic, two in each direction, south of Evans Road. There will be two new lanes in each direction for the rest of the project.
For years, the project was touted as a toll road, but the very unpopular toll plan was ditched after voters approved Prop Seven and Prop One, which freed up billions of dollars in oil and gas severance tax money and tax from motor vehicle sales to build non tolled highways and decrease congestion.
TxDOT says the two new lanes will be adequate to reduct congestion over the coming thirty years.
"Although nobody has a crystal ball and can tell what traffic volumes will be in 20 years, the best estimates show that those two lanes will be sufficient. Today, the segment just north of Stone Oak carries about 55,000 vehicles per day. Even if that grows by 50% over the 20 years, that would put it at about the same traffic volume as is currently on Loop 1604 between Braun and Culebra, where the two freeway lanes in each direction experience no recurring congestion," TexDOT says in its planning statement.
Groundbreaking on the southern half of the project begins toay, with the northern half beginning construction next year.
The plan is for the entire project to be done and open to vehicles by 2022.