RIO GRANDE CITY — City and county officials here celebrated the completion of a road realignment project that is expected to usher in economic growth in the area.

A 2.5-mile section of roadway opened in Rio Grande City stretching from U.S. Highway 83 to Farm-to-Market Road 755.

“We know that this is going to be the most congested intersection next to 10th and Nolana in McAllen,” said Sam Vale, president and owner of the Starr-Camargo Bridge Company, “because it currently exists over on the other side of the bridge where it is now.”

With the expected increase in traffic because of the new route, the hope is new businesses will want to set up shop, including a pending commercial development project.

“This is an anchor,” Vale said. “It should anchor a shopping center over here that the (Starr County) Industrial Foundation, the city economic development corporation, (and) the city officials have all been working on.”

The realignment of FM 755 — an estimated $11 million project funded in part by TxDOT and federal funds — has been in the works since about 2013 and is just the first leg of relief route meant to eventually reach further.

“We’re actively working on a relief route project that’s going to construct the divided highway from where this project ends here at 755 all the way to Roma, Loma Blanca Road,” said Hector Gonzalez, deputy district engineer for TxDOT. “So it’s a little bit over 17 miles.”

The price tag for those pending sections of the project is about $160 million, Gonzalez said, the funding for which has not yet been secured.

The ultimate goal is mobility, he said, with the hope of providing easier access to people traveling from Rio Grande City-Camargo Bridge and those traveling from the Rio Grande Valley to Laredo.

“It’s a beginning of a new route; it’s a beginning of a safer route,” Gonzalez said, “but also it’s a beginning of new opportunities for economic development.”