• Texas Leadership Celebrates I-69 Progress
Governor Perry Applauds I-69 Supporters
As part of the I-69 Day in Austin celebration, Gov. Rick Perry stepped forward to thank members of the Alliance for I-69 Texas, members of the Legislature and others for their persistence in 20 years of pursing an interstate highway from Texarkana to the Rio Grande.
"To all who fought this good fight, some of whom are not here, we say thanks to all of them for their vision, for their stick-to-itiveness, for their love of Texas," he said in welcoming I-69 supporters for a day of activities at the State Capitol on Feb. 6th.
"We need to continue to invest in transportation projects like I-69," Perry said. "This session we are taking a very pro-active approach to dealing with the infrastructure needs of our state."
He said investments will enable Texas to maintain the prosperity that we've seen for generations to come. He noted that I-69 is contributing to that prosperity as existing highways are upgraded into new area including the Rio Grande Valley which has never been served by the Interstate Highway System.
VISITS WITH LAWMAKERS
As part of the day's activities commemorative I-69 signs were presented to members of the Legislature who serve districts that include portions of the I-69 route. Alliance volunteers delivered the wall plaques and I-69 lapel pins to members throughout the day. That included visits to deliver signs to Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst and Speaker Joe Straus.
The Texas House adopted a resolution extending the state's appreciation to the Transportation Commission, TxDOT, local elected officials, community leaders and others who have worked tirelessly on the I-69 Advisory Committee and Segment Committees and members of the Alliance for I-69 Texas for having improved the safety and efficiency of the Texas highway system.
Also as part of the celebration, the Alliance hosted a well-attended reception that included lawmakers and staff members from the Capitol.
The Alliance held a joint I-69 progress briefing in the House Press Conference Room. Speakers included Sen. Robert Nichols, chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee; Rep. John Otto of represents Liberty and San Jacinto Counties on the I-69 route; Jeff Austin III, member of the Transportation Commission; Phil Wilson, TxDOT executive director; Judy Hawley, chairman of TxDOT’s I-69 Advisory Committee; and Judge John Thompson, chairman of the Alliance for I-69 Texas.
Commissioner Austin took the opportunity to announce new federal designation of more than 28 miles of existing highway around Houston as part of I-69.
He noted that total population in the counties along the I-69 route increased by 28% from 2000 to 2010 and that the I-69 route provides critical connectivity to these Texans and the businesses in these area.
“Economic development, commerce, safety and quality of life are all tangible benefits Texans will experience with the development of I-69,” said Wilson.
“The I-69 expansion can mean growth for communities in Texas and attract businesses that want to move products in all directions throughout Texas and the nation,” he said. Additionally, due to its proximity to our seaports, I-69 will serve as a vital artery for exporting Texas products.
TxDOT reported that significant progress has been made on I-69 since the Legislature last convened in 2011. The first sections of I-69 (now totaling 70 miles) have been designated as part of the national Interstate Highway System with approximately 130 additional miles of existing highway currently under consideration for designation. Additionally, more than $600 million dollars have been dedicated to studies and project development for I-69 Texas. The success in developing I-69 projects was attributed to the partnership between federal, state and local leaders, the I-69 Advisory and Segment Committees, the Alliance for I-69 Texas and TxDOT. [MORE PHOTOS]
Gov. Perry speaks to a packed house in the Capitol.
Lawmakers and community leaders from the Lower Rio Grande Valley enjoy a moment of celebration during I-69 Day in Austin.