A 1.5-mile stretch of cornfields in Waukee drew a lot of prominent Iowa politicians recently, but they weren’t celebrating Iowa agriculture. Instead, Gov. Terry Branstad, Sens. Charles Grassley and Tom Harkin, and Rep. Tom Latham were turning dirt to mark the start of construction on Alice’s Road from University Avenue to Ashworth Road, a segment of paving that has been several years in the making, and one that is expected to lead to a development boom.

The project will open up 1,300 acres to a projected $2.5 billion in private investment, create roughly 25,000 new jobs and add 17,000 residents to Waukee. Eventually, Alice’s Road will tie into 105th Street in West Des Moines, where the City Council recently talked about its vision for the southern stretch of the Alice’s/105th corridor.

In Waukee alone, the current phase of construction includes four travel lanes and turning lanes at a cost of $13 million. Construction is expected to be completed in late 2014. Also next year, construction is expected to begin on a $28 million interchange at Interstate 80, which should be completed by late 2015.

That project will establish a link to West Des Moines, where the development numbers are equally impressive.

West Des Moines planners estimate that the development of 105th Street will open about 860 acres to an investment in commercial projects of $1.78 billion and the creation of 18,000 jobs. The area would generate $7.25 million in residential development and draw 9,300 new residents, they project.