By David Tanner, Land Line associate editor
It’s only six miles so far, but Texas has added another interstate highway on its roster. Federal approval has allowed Texas to designate a portion of the existing U.S. Route 77 as Interstate 69 in Nueces County near Corpus Christi. Texas plans to add more I-69 designations in the future and eventually connect the southern border with other parts of I-69 in the Midwest.
If the plan sounds familiar, it is. Texas has been attempting to get I-69 designated and parts of it built for some time. In the 1990s, Congress put four highways on the fast track to becoming part of the interstate, but it has taken until now to obtain federal approval.
Just a few years back, Gov. Rick Perry tossed a concept into the mix that garnered national attention and put Texas landowners and highway users on their heels. Perry proposed a network of tolled superhighways dubbed the Trans-Texas Corridor, which would take I-69 from the southern border with Mexico to Texarkana, AR, and would rebuild the I-35 corridor in a separate phase. Early estimates put truck tolls at 50 cents a mile.
Following public meetings and outcry from residents and truckers, TxDOT eventually scrapped the Trans-Texas Corridor on paper and went back to a piecemeal approach to build I-69 using existing highway right of ways whenever possible.
TxDOT announced that the first section of I-69 Robstown has not cost the state any extra money because U.S. Route 77 already receives federal funding and already meets interstate specs.
In addition to Route 77, TxDOT could eventually fold parts of U.S. Routes 59, 84, and 281 into the mix for I-69 designation.
Each section will require approval from the Federal Highway Administration.
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