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New 52.5-mile stretch of Grand Parkway opening to traffic after decades of planning and construction

The new section runs from the Eastex Freeway in New Caney to Highway 146 in Baytown.

HOUSTON — A ceremonial ribbon-cutting Wednesday morning helped mark the completion of the newest stretch of the Grand Parkway.

It's part of a third loop that will become the nation’s longest once it's fully finished.

"This is an awesome day, awesome project,” said a Texas Department of Transportation official.

This 52.5-mile piece of the pie, if you will, stretches through parts of Montgomery, Liberty, Harris and Chambers Counties.

The total price tag tops some $1.3 billion.

"It actually went through about two or three different generations of district engineers and project managers throughout this project,” said TxDOT Houston District Engineer Eliza Paul.

KHOU 11 got a chance to take a drive along the new route with local leaders and others.

"Nothing against Houston," said Chambers County Judge Jimmy Sylvia.  "But I hate going through Houston."  

"Now I can go around Houston to get to the north.”

Sylvia said new roads also mean new homes and businesses.

“I anticipate the same thing that happened south of I-10," said Sylvia.  "It’s going to grow these small cities and Liberty County and the rest of the counties it comes into contact with."

Critics might say the last thing we need is a new freeway.

But explosive growth in Greater Houston has no signs of slowing down.

"This will definitely help with the traffic that's gotten so bad around the city," said driver Yesica Roman.

TxDOT hasn’t said exactly what time the new stretch of the Grand Parkway will open on Thursday, but the opening is expected to be staggered.

Tolls will be waived until midnight Saturday.

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