• Celebration Marks I-69 Signs Now Up in Corpus Christi & Robstown
There were smiles all around as the friends of Interstate 69 in Texas gathered under a Robstown highway overpass on a cold windy day to celebrate the designation of the first new interstate highway in Texas since 1992.
State and federal transportation officials along with community leaders and volunteers from all along the I-69 route unveiled a 10 foot by 10 foot highway sign that was later raised into place above the busy freeway lanes. TxDOT is nearing completion of installation of 10 overhead freeway guide signs on I-37 and I-69 plus dozens of route markers at intersections leading to the newly designated interstate.
Following the necessary approvals of the Federal Highway Administration and American Association of State Highway Transportation Officials, the Texas Transportation Commission gave final approval to designate the first segment of I-69 in Texas on October 27. The first segment is concurrently designated with US 77 for 6.2 miles from State Highway 44 in Robstown to I-37 in Corpus Christi.
"Believe me, starting today you'll never look at this intersection and this segment of highway the same way again," said John A. Casey, district engineer for the TxDOT Corpus Christi District.
"Here in Robstown, Interstate 69 begins a journey that will ultimately link the Rio Grande Valley, the Coastal Bend, the Golden Crescent, the greater Houston metropolitan area, Southeast Texas, and the Piney Woods to six states, three countries, and a growing trade corridor. Here in the Coastal Bend, Interstate 69 connects ports, waterways, trains, airports, and highways to create opportunities for jobs and increased commerce between the U.S. and countries on every continent across the globe. It’s that big of a deal," he said.
"Today the efforts of hundreds of local and state leaders who understand how critical interstate access is for freight movement and community economic vitality are bearing fruit - I-69 is now a reality in Texas!" said Judy Hawley, chair of the I-69 Advisory Committee and a member of the Corpus Christi Port Commission. "The timing for South Texas couldn't be better with the pending Panama Canal expansion, development of the Port of Corpus Christi's La Quinta Trade Terminal underway and the burgeoning population growth in the Rio Grande Valley."
John Thompson, Polk County Judge and Alliance board chairman, said, "Official designation of the first segment of I-69 in Texas is a huge milestone in the project's development and is a visible sign of the progress being made on I-69. We will continue to work with our partners to complete additional segments of I-69 and to ensure the ultimate completion of this seamless interstate which will provide tremendous opportunity for economic development and job growth, as well as enhanced safety and freight movement." He took time to honor the leadership provided over the years by former Lufkin Mayor Louis Bronaugh, an organizer and initial chairman of the Alliance.
Fred Underwood, member of the Texas Transportation Commission, said, "The support of federal, state and local officials and partners like the Alliance for I-69 is instrumental in bringing I-69 to Texas. This is a proud first step in bringing expanded economic opportunity to the Coastal Bend and South Texas regions, and I expect we’ll bring these same economic opportunities to other parts of the state once the citizen-led planning efforts of the I-69 Advisory and Segment Committees are complete."
"I am excited that we continue to move forward to connect South Texas to the national interstate system. This designation is a huge step towards growing the local economy and creating jobs in South Texas. Surface transportation is crucial to our state, especially in light of the soon to be finished expansion of the Panama Canal. My work will not be done until all of South Texas is serviced by I-69," noted Congressman Blake Farenthold.
"This long-awaited event marks the beginning of even greater things to come," Nueces County Judge Loyd Neal, Jr. said. "We are pleased that Nueces County is home to the locations of the first signs identifying Interstate 69. This is truly a great day in the interests of economic development, interstate commerce, transportation excellence and prosperity for our region."
State Senator Juan "Chuy" Hinojosa said, "Transportation is the lifeblood of our economy. This is another step in ensuring that South Texas is connected to the Interstate system. With the completion of I-69, our transportation network is one step further to moving goods faster, which ultimately creates jobs for our region."
"Leaders from the Coastal Bend community, including the City of Corpus Christi, have worked long and hard for the realization of the day when the I-69 corridor became Interstate 69," Corpus Christi Mayor Joe Adame said. "This milestone of actual signage right here in our own community is a testament to the commitment of our community working with the Alliance for I-69 and communities across the state and nation, to make this day a reality. I applaud all those who have supported this effort and look forward to the day when the entire corridor is constructed to completion in the state of Texas to create the economic development connection to our neighbors to the north and south."
"I-69 now has an official footprint in South Texas - a footprint that will continue to expand. I will continue to work at the state level to ensure we do everything necessary to guarantee its completion," added State Senator Eddie Lucio, Jr. of Cameron County.
TxDOT is also in the process of requesting that the Federal Highway Administration approve adding completed sections of US 59 in the Houston metropolitan area to the Interstate Highway System as I-69. The sections from near Cleveland to Rosenberg are expected to gain approval in time for signs to be up by next summer.