State and regional highway planners struck a tentative deal Thursday to start building the Southwest Parkway, a 28-mile toll road linking Fort Worth and Cleburne.
While a few hurdles remain to finalizing the financing, the project is now on the fast track, said Fort Worth City Councilman Jungus Jordan.
"Everyone is very optimistic we are finally going to build this road,” Jordan said after attending a government planning meeting.
The highway would connect Interstate 30 near downtown Fort Worth to Highway 67 in Cleburne. It would link to Highway 121 into Collin County.
The breakthrough came when government planners found ways to cut the $2 billion cost to $1 billion, in part by reducing the highway from six lanes to two lanes from Farm Road 1187 to Cleburne.
"It's huge for Fort Worth, it's huge for Johnson County, it's huge for the whole region,” Jordan said.
It also could relieve gridlock on Interstate 35W by giving thousands of commuters a shorter way to work, he said.
In February, an agreement with Union Pacific to build the road over a big rail yard helped pave the way for construction, but funding was still a problem.
The North Texas Tollway Authority will run the toll road and still must approve a plan to borrow money to pay for it. The Texas Transportation Commission also must sign off on the project.
If all goes according to plan, Jordan said construction will start in the spring and much of the project could be completed by 2012.
While the project is called the Southwest Parkway in Tarrant County, it’s known as the Chisholm Trail Parkway in Johnson County.