• Push on to Add SH 44 to I-69 Priority Corridor System
South Texas Congressman Blake Farenthold has introduced legislation has been that would add 73 more miles to the Interstate 69 system of routes in Texas and ultimately provide an interstate connection between Laredo and Corpus Christi.
Laredo is the busiest truck and rail crossing on the border between the U.S. and Mexico with more than 1.7 million trucks moving across the international bridges each year. Corpus Christi is a major seaport and manufacturing center.
Congressman Farenthold’s bill applies to the section of State Highway 44 between US 59 in Freer and the SH 358 Freeway in Corpus Christi.
If enacted the legislation would designate this section of SH 44 as a High Priority Corridor on the National Highway System and designate it as a Future Interstate. The Alliance for I-69 Texas and the statewide I-69 Advisory Committee have been instrumental in moving the legislation forward.
In 2008 the Texas Transportation Commission created five Segment Committees for I-69 made up of citizen representing communities, counties, port authorities, metropolitan planning organizations and local groups to provide recommendations on developing I-69 in their area. Segment Committees 4 and 5 in South Texas both strongly recommended that State Highway 44 be added to the Congressionally Designated I-69 High Priority Corridor and eventually upgraded as an interstate highway. TxDOT has been including this segment on its planning maps as a proposed potential I-69 route.
SH 44 is already at interstate highway standard in Corpus Christi and is a four-lane divided highway westward to the city of San Diego. The 23 miles from San Diego to Freer is a two-lane section passing through sparsely populated ranch land. Upgrades recommended by the committees include relief routes around Alice, San Diego and Freer plus a new link at Robstown.
The legislation, H.R. 4523, is being referred to as the “44 to 69 Act of 2014.”
Rep. Farenthold's office released the following Press Release on May 1st:
Rep. Farenthold Hosts I-69 Caucus Briefing with Region Leaders in DC,
Introduces Bill to Expand State Highway 44 into I-69
WASHINGTON, DC – Wednesday, U.S. Congressman Blake Farenthold (TX-27) hosted an I-69 Congressional Caucus briefing with Texas Transportation Commissioner Jeff Austin, local elected officials and community leaders of Corpus Christi, and representatives from each of the I-69 corridor regions before announcing his introduction of legislation that would expand Interstate 69 to include Texas State Highway 44. The I-69 corridor stretches from Port Huron, Michigan, through the heartland to Texas and covers portions of the 27th Congressional District, including Wharton, Victoria, San Patricio and Nueces Counties.
Participants in the I-69 Caucus briefing included Tom Tagliabue, Intergovernmental Relations Director for the City of Corpus Christi, Port of Corpus Christi Commission Chair Judy Hawley, and Texas Transportation Commissioner Jeff Austin. The purpose of the briefing was for state, community and business leaders to provide a national update on the status of Interstate 69 to congressional caucus members, who represent districts along the I-69 route, and to discuss issues important to the project’s advancement in Congress.
Congressman Farenthold, a co-chair of the I-69 Caucus, served as briefing “emcee” and was joined by Texas colleague and 34th District representative Filemon Vela, as well as fellow co-chairs of the caucus. Farenthold and five of his colleagues launched the I-69 Caucus earlier this year, with its stated mission to advance the development of I-69 and to enhance the regional mobility and safety of the traveling public.
Following the briefing, Congressman Farenthold officially introduced H.R. 4523, the “44 to 69 Act.” H.R. 4523 would designate State Highway 44 as a future segment of I-69. Under the Congressman’s legislation, both the city of Corpus Christi and Corpus Christi International Airport would be included in the 1-69 interstate highway system.
Congressman Farenthold offered the following statement on his introduction of the “44 to 69 Act” and Wednesday’s I-69 Congressional Caucus briefing:
“As Texas’ economy continues to grow, so does the need for surface transportation and modern infrastructure to move freight. In the district I represent, the goods moving through our ports and supporting the Eagle Ford shale boom need a more direct freight network. I-69 links major commercial centers in the southern most states to the rest of the U.S. and Canada, serving more than 23 million people, and crossing over 111 counties and hundreds of municipalities. By upgrading Highway 44 to the interstate highway system – and including Corpus Christi and its airport along I-69 – the “44 to 69 Act” will increase access for the businesses that drive Texas’ economy. Commonsense solutions – like the ones we’re calling for – will help ensure we meet the transportation and economic needs of our state and local community, and why we shouldn’t delay any longer.”