Area city, state and federal officials gathered on the newly paved Main Street bridge for a ribbon cutting ceremony on Monday to mark the halfway point to finishing the $1.02 billion DFW Connector project.
Plans for the DFW Connector project include building new bridges and paving roads aimed at improving access to the Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport and easing traffic congestion along state highways 121 and 114. Officials ticked off construction on Main Street bridge as one of several projects that completed construction, setting them on track to finish by 2014.
Drivers have dealt with traffic jams and orange-and-white cones while driving through Grapevine since construction began in fEbruary 2010. Grapevine Mayor William D. Tate said he had been concerned about possible negative impacts to businesses in the area in teh beginning, adding that some businesses even relocated away from the project before work began. Monday's message, though, was one of encouragement.
"The first was the worst. The second half will be better, because we start opening part of the improvements in the second half," he said. "This bridge will open very shortly, the bridge in Tate will be open this summer and the bridge on Texan Trail will start out the first of the year. And each month that passes, some of the improvements will start to open and hopefully reduce the impact."
Tate thanked business owners, residents an drivers for their patience with the construction.
"So for all of those people who have been inconvenienced and who have maintained a good attitude, we're very thankful for them," Tate said. "And so we're looking forward to the days ahead as this project continues to unfold."
Among the funding for this project is $250 million from the federal economic stimulus. Victor Mendez with the Federal Highway Administration called the project the nation's "single largest investment" through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, and praised it for its ability to put people to work.
"Close to 750 people are working on the project each and every day, and that is significant," he said. "And I'm sure if you ask each and every worker why is that important to them, they'll tell you exactly why it is important to them."
While the project may be more than 50 percent complete, Southlake Mayor John Terrell looked toward the future and the project's completion in early 2014.
"I am very much looking forward to, as I know all of you are, to the next celebration at the 100 percent completion," Terrell said. "I am anticipating champagne and great festivities."