in Texas' Rio Grande valley are asking the state to pony up money
for interstate highways in the region, The Dallas Morning News reported recently, but a state official said recently that the region's
best bet for highway improvements is to build toll roads.
Commissioner Ric Williamson's suggestion to build toll roads has
some fans, but isn't finding an entirely friendly audience with
area leaders. Harlingen Mayor Connie de la Garza told The News the valley is the only region with a population of 1 million people
and no basic interstate system. She suggested the state build its
first interstate highway in the area, and then talk toll roads.
concern is money to build the long-awaited I-69 project. Congress
had said the South Texas portion of the highway - called the "NAFTA
Superhighway" because it will link Mexico and Canada - should
be the first part of that highway built, Former Harlingen Mayor
Bill Card told the newspaper. However, Williamson said federal aid
for the project was not likely.
the only place where the I-69 project is running into holdups. Little
has been done to construct the new interstate, which is designed
to ease truck congestion and speed the flow of goods, according
to media reports.
In 1997, Congress
authorized the construction of I-69, expected to cost at least $8.5
billion. Little pavement has been laid since because of state-level
disputes about where to locate sections of the highway, The Washington
Times reported. The highway, which already exists from Canada,
through Michigan, to Indianapolis, would eventually go through Michigan,
Indiana, Kentucky, Tennessee, Arkansas, Mississippi, Louisiana and
The new route
is expected to cut four hours in travel time between Indianapolis
and the Mexican border and help ease an increase in truck flow caused
by the 1993 North American Free Trade Agreement.
of the route in southern Indiana has been a point of recent contention.
In November, the Environmental Protection Agency proposed an alternative
route for the southward extension of I-69 from Indianapolis, according
to a report from The Associated Press, in part because of
concern over the road's effect on wetlands in the southern part
of the state. Another federal agency - The Interior Department -
weighed in a short time later, backing the use of current highway
routes for I-69 south of Indianapolis.