TxDOT chooses design firm for portion of new I-69

| Friday, June 27, 2008

The Texas Transportation Commission has awarded a $5 million to an American and Spanish firm to develop a portion of the proposed Interstate 69.

Texas-based Zachry American Infrastructure partnered with ACS Infrastructure Development of Spain and several other firms and secured the winning bid for the design project.

The project includes upgrading U.S. Highway 77 to interstate quality from Brownsville to Corpus Christi. If all the pieces fall into place, it could become part of the proposed I-69 as part of the TTC-69 phase of the Trans-Texas Corridor.

Texas Department of Transportation Director Amadeo Saentz said Thursday, June 26, reiterating a previous announcement, that construction of the TTC-69 phase will involve upgrades to existing highways wherever possible to cut down on the amount of right-of-way acquisition from landowners.

“The preliminary basis for this decision centers on the review of nearly 28,000 public comments made on the Tier One (Draft Environmental Impact Statement),” Saentz stated in a letter to the Federal Highway Administration. “The overwhelming sentiment of these comments focused on the need to improve the existing transportation network.” Click here to read Saentz’s letter.

TxDOT officials announced that Zachry-ACS has been working with local toll authorities on seven proposed toll projects that would fund Highway 77 and keep the Highway 77 portion of the future I-69 toll free.

Under current Texas law, private companies are prohibited from building toll roads without consent or partnerships with local or regional authorities. If they have consent, private companies can proceed under the law.

Terri Hall, founder of a group called Texans United for Reform and Freedom, or TURF, says the moratorium that was passed last year and signed by Gov. Rick Perry should have sent a message to TxDOT.

“We don’t want our public infrastructure being handed over to foreign companies for our lifetime, and this moratorium bill was supposed to send a message to TxDOT that, no, we don’t want any more of this,” Hall told “Land Line Now’s” Reed Black on XM Satellite Radio.

If Zachry-ACS wins regional approval from local authorities, the following toll projects would be constructed:

  • West Loop and State Highway 550;
  • Five Mile Spur highway projects in Cameron County;
  • State Highway 358 high-occupancy vehicle lanes or high-occupancy toll lanes;
  • State Highway 286 HOV or HOT lanes;
  • Southside Mobility Corridor projects in Corpus Christi; and
  • Tolled reliever routes on U.S. 77 in the communities of Riviera and Driscoll.

 

“Zachry/ACS proposes to develop these seven projects and use the toll revenues to help finance the sections of U.S. 77 that would be upgraded to interstate standards without the need for additional tolls on that highway,” TxDOT officials stated.

TxDOT officials also announced they will continue planning upgrades to U.S. Highway 281 to eventually become part of the proposed I-69.

The Federal Highway Administration has defined the proposed I-69 as a high-priority “Corridor of the Future” to become a key trade route linking the U.S., Mexico and Canada.

Texas Gov. Perry unveiled the Trans-Texas Corridor concept in 2002 to initiate work on the trade corridor.

– By David Tanner, staff writer
david_tanner@landlinemag.com

Staff Writer Reed Black contributed to this report.

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