With a turn of the shovel, state and local officials kicked off the Grand Parkway Segment E project. It's a 15-mile toll road connecting Highway 290 and the Katy Freeway. The new freeway is expected to open in late 2013.
TxDot Interim Director John Barton says Houston has a good radial system when it comes to roads headed into downtown, but things bog down for commuters when they have to travel between those two freeways.
"With this direct access between Interstate 10 and US 290, traffic that's trying to travel from Cy-Fair to let's say, over to the Katy or Brookshire area, will now have a direct route that they'll be able to use that's congestion-free."
The project has a price tag of about 320 million dollars. Barton says the bulk of the funding comes from the state.
"And that money was made available through the Texas Mobility Fund, which is a program that was put together several years ago in the 2003 legislative session. And the funding that is used to develop that program comes from our drivers license fees and others drivers pay."
Along with making things easier for commuters, officials hope the new freeway will spur retail and residential development on the northwest side. But the project hasn't come without controversy. Last month the Sierra Club filed suit to block the project citing potential environmental damage to area wetlands.