Grayson County leaders gave a nod of approval to a new roadway project that will connect the area to the future extension of the Dallas North Tollway. The two-lane county road, which will run from the Denton-Collin County Line to FM 121, will serve as the service road for the tollway once it is expanded north.

Members of the Grayson County Commissioners Court voiced their approval of the construction of Grayson Parkway via resolution Tuesday morning. The resolution clears the way for the Texas Department of Transportation to give the project an official number and effectively moving the project closer to construction.

“What this is — by us passing this resolution — is giving TxDOT the green light for the lack of a better term to give this project a number,” Grayson County Judge Bill Magers said. “All this up to this point has been real estate acquisition. This today gives them the right to kick off the project.”

The future extension of the toll road, and the work to prepare for its coming, has been a distant project for Grayson County leaders dating back nearly a decade. Through that time, the route of both the toll road and the roads servicing it were debated with both Collin and Denton counties wanting the majority of the route within their bounds. Now that a route is set, the southern portion of the service road is expected to reach Grayson County by 2022, Magers said.

“It will be the spur road that will become the ultimate free access road along the tollway,” Magers said. “This access road will be here many, many, many years before the toll road gets here, but its the first step in the process.”

The two-lane road has been fully funded through a combination of funds from TxDOT and the Sherman-Denison Metropolitan Planning Organization. The two groups will split the $8 million price for the service road with the MPO slated to spend $4 million.

Magers said the project will serve as another connector to the south well before the road is used as a service road for the larger toll road. While there are several feeder roads that travel south, Magers said many suffer from congestion.

“I think in the near future, it is access to another way to get down to Dallas,” Magers said. “We have Preston Road, but when you get south of the county line, Preston Road has a lot of lights on it.”

The road could also expedite the decision to move the toll road north, as the North Texas Tollway Authority will be monitoring the county road for traffic patterns. If the roadway is heavily used, especially with growth expected in Grayson County, it could be enough to convince tollway leaders to move the project up in priority.

“Now they can see what traffic is coming south,” Magers said. “Those numbers are going to increase rapidly as we continue to grow and could expedite the process.”

SDMPO Executive Director Clay Barnett, who also serves as a Grayson County engineer, said there are four projects, including the extension of the tollway, being considered by the NTTA.

The funds for Grayson Parkway are expected to be set some time in the 2021-2022 fiscal year, Barnett said. From there, the construction phase will likely be short as the route primarily goes through pasture land and there will be no interruptions due to existing traffic.