• Committees Recommend I-69 Routes at Nacogdoches and Lufkin
Following a bottom-up planning template established by TxDOT over the past five years, two committees made up completely of local community representatives have developed a recommended plan for the route of Interstate 69 in the Lufkin-Nacogdoches region of East Texas.
The route recommendations will be used as a guide by TxDOT as it moves forward with planning of specific projects to upgrade the US 59 corridor through Angelina and Nacogdoches Counties in the years ahead. From north to south the area covered by the recommendations is approximately 47 miles long and will eventually involve numerous individual projects as funding is available.
The committees have been at work since December and have held numerous public meetings and open houses to encourage community consensus. Each committee looked at and attempted to refine two options, one that was primarily routed on a new location right of way and one that attempted to upgrade existing US 59 to interstate highway standard. TxDOT and the Alliance for I-69 have been committed in recent years to upgrading the existing footprints of US 59, US 77 and US 281 to the greatest extent practical in building sections of Interstate 69.
NACOGDOCHES PICKS WESTERN ROUTE
The Nacogdoches County Committee recommended a route that combines both upgrades of existing sections of US 59 and development of part of the route on new location right of way. They evaluated a route involving all new right of way but selected an option that would utilize the existing US 59 footprint in the less developed areas north and south of the city of Nacogdoches. The new route would run for approximately 9 miles around the west side of the city starting at Industrial Boulevard on the north and running adjacent to the Nacogdoches airport before rejoining about 1.5 miles south of Loop 224.
The committee stressed that improving existing rural sections of US 59 would provide immediate safety and mobility benefits. The route near the airport is expected to enhance economic development opportunities while minimizing the impact on existing businesses at the US 59/Loop 224 interchange.
Nacogdoches City Manager Jim Jeffers, chairman of the Nacogdoches committee, noted that the committee worked to stay on the US 59 footprint to minimize disruption. He said that while that was their focus there were area where it was not practical to do so. “We think our recommendations mitigated those concerns. We had adequate public input and we think we are in a good position to move forward,” he told the Lufkin Daily News.
DIBOLL RELIEF ROUTE A TOP PRIORITY
Angelina County Judge Wes Suiter, chairman for the Angelina County Committee, noted that the group went to significant lengths to gather public input and build those ideas into a route best suited for the community.
Starting at the Angelina River on the north the Angelina committee’s recommended upgrade route follows the existing US 59 footprint south into the city of Lufkin. It runs through the new Loop 287 interchange being constructed at the north edge of the city then follows the loop to a point just south of Lufkin High School. South of US 69 the committee recommends a route running on a new right of way, skirting the eastern edge of the Lufkin and rejoining US 59 north of Burke and the Angelina County Airport.
TxDOT completed environmental studies and schematic design of the Diboll relief route in 1999. That route is incorporated in the recommendation. New environmental studies and design work will be required all along the recommended routes in both counties.
The committees recommended the following priority projects:
1. Improvements at the south interchange of US 59 and Loop 224 is the top priority regardless of which route option is carried forward in the environmental process.
2. From SH 21 to just north of the US 259/US 59interchange.
3. From the Angelina County line to SH 7
4. From SH 7 to SH 21
5. From north of US 259 to Appleby
1. Diboll relief route
2. Upgrade US 59/Loop 287 from US 69 to north of SH 103
3. Section from Burke to near Lufkin High School
4. Sections of US 59 north of Loop 287 to the Angelina River
Committee members include Judge Wes Suiter; James Montoya, American Federation of Teachers; Kenneth Timmons, Angelina County; Dr. Sid Roberts, Arthur Temple Sr. Regional Cancer Center; John McClain, City of Diboll; Dennis McDuffie, City of Diboll; Bob Brown, City of Lufkin; Paul Parker, City of Lufkin; Keith Wright, City of Lufkin; Lynn Powell Torres, Lufkin City council and Lufkin ISD; Joe Deason, Lufkin ISD; Greg Shrader, Lufkin Daily News; Roy Bolden, City of Nacogdoches; Jim Jeffers, City of Nacogdoches; Mary Uresti, City of Nacogdoches; County Judge Joe English, Nacogdoches County; David Alders, Nacogdoches EDC; John Holloway, Pilgrim’s Pride Corp.; Richard Berry, Stephen F. Austin University; Wes Chandler and Leonard Sweat.