Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Opposition to Moratorium Bill cost I-69 Alliance - Harris County pulls out

NAFTA Super Highway proponent lose support. Twenty-four hours after the I-69 Alliance issued a memo calling for Governor Perry to veto the Toll Moratorium Bill, Harris County Commmissioners voted unaniously to pull out of the Alliance.
"The alliance's interests have changed since Harris County joined it," Emmett said. "The original intent was to upgrade U.S. 59 to an interstate."

In December 2005 Governor Perry instructed TxDOT to
Recast I-69 as Trans Texas Corridor-69, using tools of the private marketplace to advance the project.

Perry's instructions said:
This should include: Improvements to U.S. Highways 59, 77 and 281

•Adding truck lanes beside existing lanes

•Adding freight rail capacity•Use a mix of toll lanes and non-tolled lanes

•Immediately begin work to build an interstate-quality highway to connect the Lower Rio Grande Valley to I-37

•Begin soliciting TTC-69 proposals from the private sector and invest state equity as needed•Balance transportation needs with the preservation of open space and the private property rights of Texans. Source

Now I-69 it has become one of the major legs of the proposed TTC/NAFTA Super Highway.
-69 today connects Indianapolis with the Canadian border at Port Huron, Michigan/Sarnia, Ontario. While it only passes through two states now, it is an important link between the lower Midwest and the most populous provinces of Canada. However, current plans will extend Interstate 69 much further.

The proposed I-69 extension will connect three different border crossings in Texas (Laredo, McAllen, and Brownsville) to I-465 in Indianapolis; from there, traffic will continue over the existing I-69 and other freeways (such as U.S. 127 [possible future I-73] and U.S. 24) to border crossings in Detroit, Port Huron or Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan. Approximately 1600 miles of freeway (including the 3 Texas branches) will be added to existing I-69 when it is complete.

In some areas, particularly in Kentucky, Mississippi, and Texas, much of I-69 will probably be built as upgrades of existing four-lane highways to modern freeway standards, while in other areas construction on new alignment is likely. (This is similar to what happened when the original Interstates were built; particularly in the desert Southwest, the Interstates were simply upgrades of preexisting highways.)

Interstate 69 is often characterized as lots of little projects rolled into one big package.
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I-69 in Texas
Current Status
Segments being designed:

EIS for these segments is pending; FR Notice (15 January 2004).
The I-69 corridor starts on the Texas-Mexico border with crossings of the Rio Grande at Laredo, McAllen, and Brownsville. The corridors proceed north and east along U.S. 59, U.S. 281, and U.S. 77 to near Victoria, Texas, where they join and follow U.S. 59 northeast to the Houston area.

From the Houston area, Interstate 69 will continue to follow the U.S. 59 corridor north, bypassing Cleveland, Shepherd, Livingston, Lufkin, and Nacogdoches. From the Nacogdoches area, I-69 will continue to the northeast, passing near Carthage and crossing into Louisiana to the east, and then continuing eastward to I-49 around Stonewall.

There are some existing freeway sections, but most of the existing routes along the I-69 corridor through Texas are rural 4-lane expressways. The U.S. 59 bypass of Nacogdoches and Lufkin is being designed to be part of I-69; other local freeway bypasses may be built before the rural segments are upgraded.

Texas' route also includes a freeway spur between I-69 near Nacogdoches and the west side of Texarkana, which presumably would follow U.S. 59's general path. However, it seems unlikely that both this spur and I-49 (between Texarkana and Shreveport) will be built in the forseeable future, and the I-69 spur may eventually be discarded due to this duplication.

During 2002 and 2003, it was decided that Gov. Rick Perry's Trans Texas Corridor proposal would be the basis for developing Interstate 69 in Texas. Accordingly, the original division of the route into 15 SIUs is being treated as preliminary, and the entire corridor in the state (as well as the connection to national SIU 15 near Shreveport, La.) will be studied using a unified, two-tier Environmental Impact Statement process.
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