Trans-Texas Corridor planners eye existing roads

| 11/16/2007

Planners in Texas are considering whether to incorporate existing roadways into the proposed Trans-Texas Corridor – a major link in a futuristic trade corridor from the southern border with Mexico all the way to Canada.

Texas Department of Transportation officials announced this week that they have narrowed down a proposed swath in which to construct the TTC-69 portion of the Trans-Texas Corridor, viewed as a key link toward the completion of the proposed Interstate 69 from Texas to Michigan. I-69 does not currently exist in Texas.

The Federal Highway Administration has already signed off on a proposal for I-69 to be completed from Texas to Michigan as one of the “Corridors of the Future.”

TXDOT’s Draft Environmental Impact Statement released this week states that the TTC-69 corridor will utilize rights of way established by U.S. 59 from Texarkana to Victoria, TX, and that the corridor will require additional land in the outskirts of Houston.

The proposed 650-mile TTC-69 corridor will split at Houston and send spurs to Laredo, TX, and the Rio Grande Valley using routes established by U.S. 77, U.S. 281 and Texas Route 44, according to the report.

Some people have been worried that the Trans-Texas Corridor would swallow up mass quantities of land, particularly farmland. The proposal for the TTC-69 to be built using existing rights of way whenever possible is TXDOT’s answer to those concerns.

TXDOT’s environmental report shows a narrowing of the proposed pathway from 20 miles wide to less than four miles wide. The eventual TTC-69 will be about a quarter-of-a-mile wide according to the report. Click here to view the proposal.

The Trans-Texas Corridor is a proposed network of toll lanes, truck lanes, railway lines and utilities, brought forward in 2002 by Gov. Rick Perry. The scope is to put Texas at least 50 years into the future in terms of lane capacity and the movement of freight.

TTC-69 is the second proposed phase of the Trans-Texas Corridor and the bidding process for this phase has yet to occur.

In 2003, officials set in motion the first phase of the TTC-35 that will roughly follow Interstate 35. It is being developed by the firm Cintra-Zachry, consisting of Cintra Concessiones de Infraestructuras de Transporte of Madrid, Spain, and Texas-based Zachry Construction Corp.

The TTC-69 phase is sure to draw its share of national attention since the Federal Highway Administration named the I-69 corridor from Texas to Michigan as one of its preferred “Corridors of the Future” in September.

Preferred corridors are receiving federal funds and top prioritization to add capacity and reduce congestion on the Interstate Highway System. Tolling is to be the preferred method of constructing the corridors.

TXDOT received $800,000 from FHWA to pay for a study to develop congestion-reducing strategies for its portion of the proposed I-69.

TXDOT will also receive a portion of an $8.6-million FHWA grant to develop the Interstate 10 corridor from California to Florida.

– By David Tanner, staff writer