Update on I-69 given to panel - Brownsville Herald: Local News

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Update on I-69 given to panel

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Posted: Friday, February 23, 2001 12:00 am

By RICKEY DAILEY

The Brownsville Herald

AUSTIN The Texas Transportation Commission was updated Thursday on the work

under way to turn the proposed I-69 into a reality.

The Texas Alliance for I-69 Texas told the three-member commission that

studies are being carried out that will define the interstate highways route

in the state and also be used to make the case for possible federal funding.

I-69 is envisioned as a new trade route from Port Huron, Mich., on the

Canadian border to Mexico that will travel through 34 counties in East and

South Texas. In the Rio Grande Valley, U.S. Highways 281 and 77 have been

designated as part of the route as has Interstate 35 to Laredo.

Much of the discussion revolved around money, including what has been spent,

and the need for additional funds.

Since 1999, Texas has received $25 million for the project with the state

throwing in another $19.2 million for environmental studies, according to

Victoria County Judge Helen Walker, the alliances chairman.

Polk County Judge John Thompson, the alliances treasurer, said there are

currently 122 projects, covering 1,100 miles, that are in the planning and

development process at the Texas Department of Transportation. The estimated

cost of the work associated with those projects is $2.2 billion.

We recognize we must increase funding just to complete the environmental and

route studies, Thompson said, adding work is continuing at the state and

federal level.

The three transportation commissioners pointed out the need both for I-69 and

money.

The department is very supportive of that corridor, commission member Robert

L. Nichols said, explaining the environmental studies will determine the

interstates ultimate route.

Nichols pointed out there is presently no federal money for interstate highway

construction but funds could become available in about three years after

congress reauthorizes transportation legislation.

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