• Chairman Mica Pledges to Help Expedite I-69 Texas Projects
U.S. Congressman John Mica, chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, said today it is time to bring an end to the 20-year wait for Interstate 69 in Texas.
“I pledge to you that I am going to do everything I can to shorten the time that you have been waiting to have I-69 become a reality. We are going to move the process forward,” he told a large audience at a Houston luncheon hosted by the Alliance for I-69 Texas.
Mica pointed to the I-35 bridge replacement in Minnesota that was completed in 437 days and still provided every currently required safety feature and environmental protection.
“We need to speed up the approval process – particularly when we are working within the existing highway footprint” which is the intent on almost all of I-69 in Texas. “There is no reason we can’t do that with full protection of the environment,” he said.
He said that the reason “shovel ready” has become a national joke is that you can’t go out and build projects without environmental clearance which typically takes five years - and sometimes much longer - to complete.
Chairman Mica, an 9-term Member of Congress from Central Florida, was introduced by U.S. Rep. Blake Farenthold who represents District 27 which includes Corpus Christi, Kingsville and Brownsville along with 151 miles of the I-69 route along US 77 in South Texas. Farenthold is the only Texas Republican member of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.
MEETING NEW CHALLENGES
Farenthold said it is critical that interstate highway upgrade projects on the I-69 Texas routes move to completion.
“This infrastructure aids in all the other transportation goals we are looking at in the new era of a wider, deeper Panama Canal. You’ve got the Port of Brownsville, Port of Corpus Christi, Port of Houston, Port of Beaumont and the other ports along the Texas Coast that all need access to the highways, all need access to railroads. It all comes together in a transportation system that is the key to the continued economic growth and development of Texas,” Farenthold said.
“I am so proud and so lucky to represent Texas because we are where the jobs are. We are where the economic growth is. Texas is so successful because of the planning that we do, the cooperation we have between the government and the private sector, and because of the innovative financing we have for projects like we are seeing on I-69.” He encouraged the Congress to follow the Texas model.
Farenthold has been joined by every member of the Texas congressional delegation including U.S. Senators Kay Bailey Hutchison and John Cornyn in sponsoring a bill that will speed up the addition of completed sections of the I-69 Texas route to the Interstate Highway System.
Joining the Alliance in sponsoring the luncheon were TexAmericas Center in Bowie County, Williams Brothers Construction, Cameron County Regional Mobility Authority, Port of Houston Authority, City of Nacogdoches, Fugro Consultants, Suddenlink Communications, Texas Farm Products Co. and the Greater Houston Partnership.