Christine Lee, NBC 5 Grand Prairie Reporter
The extension of the George Bush Turnpike which stretches all the way to south Grand Prairie is now open connecting 161 to I-30 and I-20.
Commuters hit the road Monday morning eager to use a new stretch of the President George Bush Turnpike.
The 6.5 mile portion connects two of the busiest east-west roads in Texas: Interstates 20 and Interstate 30. It’s the largest North Texas Tollway Authority project ever and a welcomed relief for commuters.
"I'm glad it's finally open," said Grand Prairie driver Ambria Stanford.
Commuters test driving the new stretch of the Bush Turnpike made it through the first morning of rush hour without any problems.
"It's awesome! I was like, 'Yes!' I get to get where I was going much faster," said Stanford.
It's taken engineers 2.5 years to get to this point. "This is a very big deal," said NTTA Chief Engineer of Construction Warren Heimer.
Crews are finishing up the final phase of the project from Highway 183 through Grand Prairie to Interstate 20. It's now part of the 52-mile loop around Dallas.
The NTTA believes it will get traffic off Interstate 30 and onto the turnpike faster.
"The route was through three traffic signals, now there aren't any, so we're able to move cars quicker," said Heimer.
For the estimate 100,000 drivers who will use the new stretch every day, it will cost Tolltag commuters around 90 cents, and be an additional 50 cents for Ziptag customers.
Those tolls are footing the bill for the $425 million dollar project. It's the price drivers will pay for the 70 mile-per-hour alternative.
"Definitely worth it," said Stanford.
Engineers hope it will ease backup between I-20 and I-30, but also provide some relief for drivers who aren't even using the turnpike. "I saw 360 this morning, it took a lot of traffic off 360, which is a good thing," said Grand Prairie driver Santos Carreon.
There are still two ramps crews are working on. If you're driving I-30 westbound, there is still one light going north, and three lights to go south on the turnpike. That construction should be completed by early 2013.