Loop 49 grand opening ceremony planned for Saturday in Tyler
From Staff Reports

August 15, 2006 - TYLER — The Texas Department of Transportation is inviting the public to a grand opening ceremony for the first segment of Loop 49, East Texas' first toll road, from 9 a.m. to noon on Saturday, Aug. 19, on Loop 49.

The ceremony will feature a classic car parade, the Apache Belles and the Tyler Junior College drum corps, as well as a NASCAR simulator, food and giveaways. Guests should enter the ceremony from the Loop 49/US Highway 69 (South Broadway) intersection.

Admission is free, but donations of canned food to the East Texas Food Bank will be accepted.

The first segment of Loop 49 connects US 69 and SH 155 south of Tyler with five miles of brand new highway. But you can't drive on it just yet.

Even though the grand opening ceremony is Saturday, the road won't officially open to traffic until Tuesday, Aug. 22.

Loop 49 is designated as a toll road, but tolls won't be collected until November. Until then, motorists can drive the road for free.

Once tolling is in effect, there will be two ways to pay for traveling on Loop 49: With or without a TxTAG.

A TxTAG, which can be purchased by calling 1-888-go-txtag, or logging on to www.txtag.org., allows the bearer to travel any toll road in Texas, including Loop 49.

The $20 fee is used to open a toll debit account.

Without a TxTAG, motorists can drive on Loop 49 and be billed at a slightly higher rate — plus a small administrative fee — through their vehicle registration.

Either way, the revenue generated will help pay back bonds issued to complete Loop 49 between US 69 and Interstate 20 as early as the year 2012.

Segment 2 of Loop 49 is well under way between US 69 and FM 756 (Paluxy). Segment 3 will connect FM 756 and SH 110 in Whitehouse.

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