SH 161 Extension on Track for Monday Opening - NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth

SH 161 Extension on Track for Monday Opening

Final preparations on 6.5-mile extension of toll road under way



    NTTA Prepares to Open SH 161

    The North Texas Tollway Authority is putting the last minute touches on State Highway 161 in Grand Prairie ahead of opening the tollway next week. (Published Tuesday, Oct. 9, 2012)

    The western extension of State Highway 161 opens in less than a week.

    Crews were hard at work Tuesday putting the finishing touches on the project, which extends President George Bush Turnpike to Interstate 20.

    "There is always a lot of things to get buttoned up at the end, no matter how you work it," said Wallace Heimer, North Texas Transit Authority chief engineer of construction.

    Hundreds of crew members have been working on the toll road since 2010.

    NTTA spokesman Michael Rey said the drought in North Texas actually helped workers stay on schedule.

    "Everything we say, we always project saying, 'weather permitting,'" he said. "Thus far, weather has permitted and, unless we were to get some kind of ultimate rain event, I think we'll be just fine to open next week."

    Rey said about 100,000 vehicles are expected to use the 6.5-mile extension starting Monday.

    "You're looking at something that will help so many people connect to the attractions in the area, whether it be in Cowboys Stadium, Rangers Ballpark, Lone Star Park, Verizon, Joe Pool Lake," Rey said.

    The city of Grand Prairie has been waiting patiently for the Bush Turnpike Western Extension's opening.

    "We are so excited to have this baby born after all these years," said Bob O'Neal, city economic development director. "The community is just ecstatic for this thing to open up, for all the construction to go away after a while."

    O'Neal said he also hoped the toll road would help the city financially grow.

    "We're happy that all of our developable land is opening up, our mall is even more accessible to the region," he said.

    The main lanes of the extension are expected to be open by Monday morning's rush hour.