J.D. Abrams L.P. and Kiewit Infrastructure South Company, a joint venture, were chosen for the $800-million completion of Loop 375 by the Texas Transportation Commission on Thursday, officials said.


Abrams, a construction company that began in El Paso in 1966, is now headquartered in Austin, according to the company website.


Sandra Sierra, a spokeswoman for the Texas Department of Transportation said the Abrams-Kiewit Joint Venture, is expected to break ground on the project in 2015 officials.


The project will close the gap on the Loop 375 that exists from Santa Fee Street Downtown to U.S. 85 on the West Side.


"We're excited about being recommended by the commission," said Alfonso Fernandez, area manager for Abrams. "We're ingrained in this community and this is one of the biggest transportation contracts that has ever been put out in the El Paso area and what better than to have a local hometown contractor perform it."


Fernandez said that after being selected there is a formal process that the commission must go through before officially hiring the joint venture.


Abrams-Kiewit will develop, design, construct and maintain the portion of the Loop 375, which also is known as the Border Highway West Extension.


Officials with the TxDOT said the project is expected to be completed by 2017.


Once the connection is finished, the project will extend the Loop 375 from Racetrack Drive, near Doniphan Road to just west of Downtown and then to U.S. 54 — making a full circle around the city by connecting to the portion that links U.S. 54 to Zaragaoza Road in East El Paso.


"Last fall, EL Paso placed number 53 on Forbes' coveted list of The Best Places for Business and Careers, a national ranking that clearly exhibits the tremendous growth and value of this area," said Commission Chairman Ted Houghton in written statement. "We must do everything we can to accommodate this growth and help enhance commerce, and I can't think of a better project do that than the extension of Loop 375 Border Highway West."


Estela Ramirez said the completion of the highway will provide drivers like herself a way to travel to the West Side without taking Interstate 10. Currently, the Border Highway ends at Santa Fe Street.


"I travel down the Border Highway every day and there's not that much traffic," Ramirez said. "But it is hard to go down it (Loop 375) when you are coming from the West Side. To avoid the traffic, we would go all the way to Hunter and Yarbrough and that's kind of overshooting it. So when they are done with this, it will be nice to see this project come into fruition and it will be nice to take it all the way to the West Side."


The construction of this segment of Loop 375, or the Border Highway West Extension, will be broken up into three sections with construction starting at Racetrack Drive to Executive Center, then moving onto to Santa Fe Street and Santa Fe Street to U.S. 54.


The highway will be four lanes that will extend for nine miles, seven miles of which will be toll lanes, officials said on Thursday. Existing lanes will remain untolled.


The project is expected to provide "improved access to the University of Texas at El Paso, Fort Bliss, Downtown and medical centers," officials with TxDOT said.


Alex Hinojosa may be reached at 546-6137.