The Texas Department of Transportation has designated a 35-mile portion of existing U.S. 59 north of Houston as Interstate 69. If everything goes according to plan, I-69 will eventually extend from the southern border to existing portions of I-69 in the Midwest.
TxDOT announced the designation on Thursday, July 26, for the portion between I-610 in Houston and the Liberty County line.
This is the second stretch of existing roadway in Texas to become part of I-69. The first was a six-mile segment of U.S. 77 west of Corpus Christi.
In announcing the designation, TxDOT also announced $150 million in improvements for several upgrade projects that will become part of I-69, notably a $60 million redesign of U.S. 77 southwest of Corpus Christi between Kingsville and Driscoll.
The Federal Highway Administration granted authority to Texas in October 2011 to begin designating I-69 using existing rights-of-way whenever possible. TxDOT could soon fold parts of U.S. 48 and 281 into the mix in addition to portions of U.S. 59 and 77.
Building and redesigning roadways as I-69 is a plan B of sorts in Texas. Prior to the piecemeal approach for completing I-69, the state was working on a plan to build wide swaths of multilane interstates complete with tolls, wide medians, railway lines and utilities. Sound familiar? It was known as the Trans-Texas Corridor.
Public outcry killed the Trans-Texas Corridor, forcing TxDOT to go back to the drawing board to improve the I-35 corridor and establish I-69.