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Exhibit ties into interstate project

The Denton County Office of History and Culture is preparing to open a new exhibit on transportation, and the timing couldn’t be better.

The exhibit traces the evolution of transportation in the county — a process that’s scheduled to begin a major new chapter today when officials gather to break ground for the much-anticipated Interstate 35E expansion.

Yes, construction is finally set to begin on the project that’s designed to relieve congestion on one of the most heavily traveled corridors in the North Texas region.

We hope you don’t get stuck in traffic on your way to the groundbreaking, which is scheduled for 10 a.m. at Copperas Branch Park in Highland Village, but if you do, remember that help is on the way.

The I-35E project will extend approximately 30 miles, through eight cities and two counties, from U.S. Highway 380 in Denton County on the north, to Interstate 635 in Dallas County.

Sure, it will take some time, but Denton County transportation consultant John Polster told us that he feels the project will meet its 2016 completion goal.

Hey, considering how long we’ve been waiting for this moment to arrive, another three years doesn’t seem unreasonable.

To help put it all in perspective, why not plan to pay a visit to that new exhibit we mentioned?

It will officially open at 9 a.m. Tuesday at the Courthouse-on-the-Square Museum, 110 Hickory St., with a ribbon cutting by the Denton County Commissioners Court and the Museums Committee.

But you can get an early look at the exhibit by attending a sneak preview from 6 to 8 p.m. Friday at the museum. The preview is free and open to the public, and barbecue and sweet tea will be served.

Transportation has played a key role in Denton County’s growth — from the earliest settlements to today — and the exhibit traces that colorful history.

Hey, if you think modern commuters have a tough time, consider the hardships experienced by early settlers who arrived by wagon or stagecoach or the plight of early motorists who braved roads that were literally cow paths to get where they needed to go.

The exhibit features items owned by the county and others here on loan and should provide a unique look at the county’s development.

“This exhibit will feature a variety of modes of transportation — horseback, horse and buggy, railroads, vehicular roadways, the former inter-urban system here in Denton — and it will be expanding to include an exhibit on DCTA [Denton County Transportation Authority] and our aviation history,” Commissioner Andy Eads said.

Of particular note, Eads said, is a painted mural recreated from photographs showing the mural that appeared in the train depot in Denton.

Peggy Riddle, director of the Denton County Office of History and Culture, said this will be the county museum’s first bilingual exhibit, with labels printed in both English and Spanish, and it will incorporate QR codes if people want to learn more about particular features on their electronic devices.

The museum will also debut its media room that will be showing various films on transportation in Denton County.

Someday, perhaps, the museum will feature an exhibit about the I-35E expansion, a project that we fully expect will bring many economic benefits to the county.

Today, the task is scheduled to begin, and we join all of those in Denton County who will be anxiously following the progress and awaiting eventual completion of this historic project.

A new era in our county’s transportation history is dawning.