Mark Schnyder, NBC 5 News
People have waited years for a better, faster way to go north and south through Grand Prairie. The wait is over.
Drivers are enjoying a faster commute in one of the busiest areas of North Texas along the newest stretch of the George Bush Turnpike that opened just in time for rush hour Monday morning.
The road runs between Interstates 20 and 30. The extension is a long-awaited relief for an estimated 100,000 drivers every day.
The new 6.5 mile stretch is the final phase of the project from Highway 183, through Grand Prairie to Interstate 20. It’s part of the growing 52 mile loop around Dallas.
The extension will cost toll tag customers around 15 cents per mile on the 70 mile an hour road and it’s cashless. There aren’t any toll booths. The tolls will pay for the extension. The $425 million project took about 2.5 years to finish and includes 33 bridges and 12 ramps.
Drivers hope it will get rid of some of the traffic backup.
"It means less congestion," said Michael Tate who we caught running an errand at a convenience store along the tollway. "I go both to and from work that way and also to the different stores and it's always congested."
Barry Cobbs was right with him. "360 to 20, it can be stop and go," says Cobbs. "You can sit there for a long time and it can be very congested and we don't even go over to 20 a lot of the time if we have to take 360."
Cobbs' wife, Ellie said it will be nice not to have tons of Cowboys game traffic clogging their neighborhood off Egyptian. "The traffic for the Cowboy games is going to be completely relieved from the Egyptian stop light because you can now go straight to I-30."
Kenny Roan has watched the construction for the past two-and-a-half years he's lived in the area. He's looking forward to enjoying a straight shot to his destinations on the tollway.
"The last couple of year's it's been hard for us going up and down the toll road here and getting off at the service road, but I'm excited," Roan said.
There are still three ramps under construction to and from the extension and I-30. Those are expected to open in early 2013.
NBC 5's Kendra Lyn contributed to this report.