July 24, 2012
Citizen-driven reports support I-69, providing recommendations and priorities for development
AUSTIN - A citizen-driven effort led by Interstate 69 Segment Committee members recommends designating existing freeway sections along the study route as interstate.
The I-69 Segment Committees completed final reports for I-69 development in Texas, with a recommendation to advance development of the interstate for increased economic development opportunities and improved safety and mobility along the route.
"I am honored to be a part of this innovative, grassroots planning process. The recent funding to study I-69 improvements in my area will provide continued momentum to a project that will be a game changer for all of East Texas and bring unimaginable economic development opportunities to the region when constructed," said Jim Wehmeier, Chair of the I-69 Segment Two Committee and President/CEO of the Lufkin/Angelina County Economic Development Partnership.
With the direction and support of citizen planners, TxDOT is currently reviewing over 200 miles of highway along US 59, US 77, US 83 and US 281 as the first step in designating these highways as Interstate 69. To date, 6 miles of US 77 have been officially designated as I-69 between I-37 and SH 44 in Robstown, and pending Texas Transportation Commission approval Thursday, July 26th, an additional 35 miles of US 59 will be dually designated as I-69/US 59 between Interstate 610 North in Houston and the Liberty County line.
In addition to this common recommendation, each segment committee established priority recommendations for developing I-69 in their area. The committees did not rank these priorities. But each carries equal importance. In creating their recommendations, the I-69 Segment Committees researched local transportation needs and proposed solutions to address their communities' needs. The committees also conducted an extensive public involvement effort, reaching more than 5,000 citizens through community presentations, open houses, and traditional and social media.
To help address these priorities, the Texas Transportation Commission recently approved an additional $140 million for various project activities along the I-69 Texas route, bringing related funding to date at more than $600 million.
These funded priorities, include: study of relief options in the Nacogdoches/Lufkin/Corrigan area; right of way acquisition for US 59 improvements in Liberty County; environmental and engineering studies in the Fort Bend/Wharton county areas; upgrading a section of US 59 in Victoria to interstate standards; construction of a relief route in Premont; the US 77/I-69 interstate-upgrade project from Driscoll to Kingsville; and construction of an overpass in Laredo.
"The citizen planners volunteering on the Segment Committees have been vital to this community-driven planning process. These citizen-driven reports and project priorities give direction to TxDOT on how we should continue moving forward on developing I-69 Texas," said Texas Transportation Commission Jeff Austin, III. "This report validates the need for I-69 and provides a helpful outline to make it a reality within our near future."
These reports detail local-level support for further development of I-69 within each committee's region. The reports also include citizen comments and questions and committee responses.
Using these local recommendations, the I-69 Advisory Committee will compile a blueprint for continued development of the newly-established interstate.
The I-69 Segment Committee reports and I-69 Public Involvement Report can be found at http://txdot.gov/drivenbytexans/publications.htm