Chris Van Horne, Fort Worth Reporter
NTTA symbolically breaks ground on another construction site in Fort Worth, even though crews have been working for over a year.
Leaders in Tarrant and Johnson Counties spent part of the day celebrating an accomplishment decades in the making.
The Chisholm Trail Parkway runs 27.6 miles from downtown Fort Worth and Cleburne. The final funding hurdles were cleared in late September for the project and so, on Tuesday, local leaders held ground breaking ceremonies in both cities.
That symbolic turning of the dirt may seem a bit late -- crews have been turning dirt for over a year on several sections of the project. But many leaders have been working on this toll road for decades and on Tuesday it gave them a chance to celebrate.
"It's a ground breaking, but really it's a celebration of a project that's been 40 years in the making," said Kenneth Barr, former Fort Worth Mayor and current NTTA Board Chairman.
Barr says it's frustrating that the toll road has taken as long as it has, but says the cost of such an enormous project and the number of such projects in the area forced it to wait.
"It's just been difficult to prioritize all of the region's demands and to get this road to be a top priority. It's a top priority today," Barr said.
The toll road, NTTA's first in Tarrant County, will open in mid-2014. Barr and others expect it to see a lot of use and not just improve congestion in the area but also improve quality of life.
"Let's think about congestion," Bill Meadows, Texas Transportation Commissioner said. "Every bit of infrastructure -- large infrastructure really does improve quality of life because people will be able to get places quickly."
"I think the demand for this road is going to be surprising to a lot of people," Barr said. "It's going to be very important, going to relieve a lot of traffic on 35W and a lot of-north-south corridors in southwest Fort Worth."
Officials also see a positive economic opportunity along the corridor, especially in Johnson County. Additionally, with many of the state's most congested roads in Tarrant County and on the western side of the Metroplex, officials hope to see many more ground breaking in the future.
"So, it's an exciting day," said Judge Glen Whitley of Tarrant Count. "Like I said, we've got other projects, hopefully they won't take 40 or 50 years to get done."
The entire parkway will cost $1.4 billion. NTTA is covering about 60-percent of that. The roadway first appeared on a state highway maps in 1962 according to Fort Worth Councilman and Chairman of the North Central Texas Regional Transportation Council Jungus Jordan.
Construction first started in April 2010 at SH 183 and Interstate 20 and along the Hulen Street bridge over the Union Pacific Railroad yard.