|San Jacinto News-Times - Local News
Stories Added - December 2010
Copyright 2010 - Polk County Publishing Company
I-69 plans urged forward
San Jacinto News- Times
AUSTIN – Regional leaders appeared before the Texas Transportation Commission to urge the state agency to move forward with development of I- 69 that would serve 34 counties along U.S. 59, 77 and 281. Public and private entities that believe the highway improvements are key to economic development along that corridor created the Alliance for I-69. Polk County Judge John Thompson serves as its chairman. The alliance includes cities, counties, port authorities, local economic development organizations, chambers of commerce and businesses along the area designated by Congress as the Interstate 69 corridor. “Our objective is to upgrade U.S. 59, U.S. 77 and U.S. 281 to an interstate highway running from Texarkana through East Texas to Houston and on south through Victoria and Corpus Christi to Laredo and the Rio Grande Valley,” Thompson said. “The State of Texas, through TxDOT, has been making incremental progress on I-69,” Thompson said. “To date more than 160 miles of this route have been completed to interstate highway standards.” Thompson said the group will work at the federal level to get approved to change signage in those sections where upgrades are complete to the new I-69 designation. “The Texas economy has been growing at a rate 30 percent faster than the U.S> economy as a whole,” Thompson said. “The (state) Commission knows well the challenges we have ahead of us as we try to provide needed capacity for the effi cient movement of goods and people that is essential to our growing Texas commissioners and businesses.” The Alliance also is urging completion of the master development plan for I-69, based on the work being done by the fi ve I-69 Segment Committees and the I-69 Corridor Advisory Committee in conjunction with TxDOT. Three sections that could be eligible for the blue and red Interstate shield include a 75-mile section of U.S. 59 from Splendora to Rosenburg and a 38 mile long continuous section of U.S. 77 stretching from Brownsville to Sebastian and an eight-mile section of U.S. 77 from I-37 to Robstown. Step two is to get the rest of I-69 built as effi ciently and expeditiou7sly as possible, Thompson says. “Dozens of local leaders and organizations along the I-69 Corridor have requested that TxDOT’s Statewide Long- Range Plan included building out the entire Interstate 69 Corridor in Texas,” Thompson said. “In the years ahead, Texas must continue to improve the connecting links that are vital to a thriving economy. As our friends at HEB says, ‘we still have to get the milk fresh from the farm to the processor and then to the store’,” Thompson told the commission. The commission should incorporate the work of the five segment committees created along the I-69 Corridor into a connected plan, Thompson said. They should also use existing rights-of-way to the greatest extent possible. They should also specify the minimum upgrades and support committees with technical input from district engineers. Nine district engineers work along the corridor.