SMITH COUNTY (KYTX) - Drivers can now get from Highway 110 in Whitehouse, all the way to Highway 31, West of Tyler, in about 15 minutes. Section 3A of Toll 49 opened to the public Friday.
Section 3A is about 8 miles long, and connects the former west end of Toll 49 at 155 in Noonday with Highway 31 between Tyler and Chandler.
City leaders from all over East Texas celebrated at the ribbon cutting ceremony Friday morning.
The vision for Toll 49 started about 40 year ago.
Noonday Mayor Mike Turman said, "I remember a while back an older gentleman friend of mine said, Mike, you won't live long enough to see Loop 49 completed to Noonday. Well, here it is!"
Texas Department of Transportation commissioners say a team effort helped make this goal a reality.
"It really comes back down to community partnership, and I cannot say that strongly enough," said TxDOT Tyler District Engineer, Randy Hopmann.
City leaders from Tyler, Noonday and Lindale celebrated together at the section 3A ribbon cutting. They all agree the Toll 49 project will affect the entire East Texas region.
TxDOt Commissioner Jeff Austin III said, "This is a choice for economic development to help improve air quality and move traffic in and around congested areas so we are really excited about what's happening and I say Randy, it's time to start driving on this road!"
The next part of the project, Segment 3B, will complete toll 49.
"The Northeast Texas Regional Mobility Authority is planning to open the next section from state Highway 31 to I-20 next spring," Hopmann says.
Tyler Mayor Barbara Bass says the result will be far-reaching.
"What is good for Tyler, Lindale, Noonday, and this East Texas area, is good for Texas," Bass said. "so for all of the TxDOT employees that are here that have made this happen, thank you for what you do. You make our lives so much better."
The road is not only saving you time on your commute to and from work, but it's keeping your roads safer, and your air cleaner.
You can drive the 3A section of the toll road for free until December 3. After that, it will be a $1.55 to travel from Troup Highway all the way to 31.
TxDOt will be selling the TX tags next week, Tuesday and Wednesday 8 - 6, and Thursday 8 - noon. You can swing by the TxDot Tyler office at Toll 49 and 155 to get your tag. You will be able to get tags for multiple vehicles, with a fleet account. To find out more, head to the TxDot web site at http://www.dot.state.tx.us/local_information/tyler_district/ or call the office at (903) 509-9066.