The Texas Transportation Commission has added more than 100 miles of highway in southern and northeastern part of the Lone Star state to the Interstate 69 system.
A group of made up of Texas local governments and other groups, the Alliance for I-69 Texas, says the approval follows the Federal Highway Administration signing off on the plan.
Texas has renamed interstate-standard segments of U.S. 77 , U.S. 83 and U.S. 281. Interstate signs should being appearing in the next month or two.
The group says U.S. 77 through Cameron and Willacy Counties will be signed as I-69 East. This includes 53 miles of existing freeway starting at the Rio Grande in Brownsville and running north past Raymondville.
The 13.5 miles of U.S. 281 freeway in Pharr and Edinburg will be signed as I-69 Central, a designation that will eventually extend northward all the way to George West.
The east-west U.S. 83 freeway that connects more than a dozen Valley cities has been designated as I-2. It extends approximately 47 miles from Harlingen to west of Mission. U.S. 83 was not designated by Congress as part of I-69, but the Alliance for I-69 Texas and community leaders insisted over the years that it should be considered an interstate connector between the legs of I-69.
Interstate 69 in Texas is being developed as a series of incremental upgrades to existing highways following U.S. 59 from Texarkana to Houston and south to Victoria, according to the alliance. In South Texas there will be three branches of the I-69 System including U.S. 59 leading to Laredo (I-69W), US 281 south to McAllen (I-69C), and US 77 from Victoria to Corpus Christi and on to Brownsville (I-69E).
The first 6.2-mile section of I-69 is on the western edge of Corpus Christi and was signed in 2011. It was initially designated at I-69. To be consistent with the federal statute the route numbering for this section will be changed to I-69E.
A 35-mile section of the Eastex Freeway became I-69 in 2012 and a 28-mile section of Houston’s Southwest Freeway became I-69 earlier this year.
“This is a landmark day in the 20-year effort to make I-69 a reality in Texas,” said John Thompson, Alliance for I-69 Texas board chairman. “It is the result of a sustained local, state and federal cooperative effort.
The 11-mile section of US 59 through downtown Houston is under engineering review by the Texas Department of Transportation and the Federal Highway Administration. It is anticipated it will be added to I-69 within the coming year.
I-69 still largely needs completion with the biggest section running form Indiana to the Canadian border. The goal is to have a route running from the U.S. border with Mexico to Canada, to facilitate trade between the U.S. and its neighbors, but a date for completing the project is far from certain.