• US 77 Upgrade Environmental Assessment Nearly Final

January 28, 2012

The Draft Environmental Assessment (EA) of upgrading US 77 from Corpus Christi to Harlingen is complete and five public hearings were scheduled for early February.

The Preferred Alternative recommended in the document is to upgrade the existing highway, adding to the right-of-way width where necessary. Two short highway sections would be relocated to create relief routes around Driscoll in Nueces County and Riviera in Kleberg County.

The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) recommends implementation of this alternative based on the detailed study and information presented in the environmental assessment.

The assessment process began in 2008. The EA document concludes that engineering, social, economic and environmental investigations conducted thus far on the proposed project indicate that it will not result in significant impacts on the quality of the human environment.

After the review of public comments is complete later this year the Federal Highway Administration is expected to issue a finding of no significant impact (FONSI) which will allow individual upgrade projects on the route to move forward once they are designed and funded.

Anticipating a favorable outcome, TxDOT has been at work in recent months creating a project development plan to complete the US 77 upgrade program that has already been underway for two decades. The new plan will identify likely construction phasing, project costs, and reasonably anticipated funding for the next 25 years.

The US 77 Upgrade Project will provide additional capacity and significantly improve safety along the 122 miles of highway covered by the assessment. Currently there are dozens of at-grade crossings and cross-overs along the route.

The EA found that the estimated cost of completing Interstate 69 from Corpus Christi to Harlingen is approximately $1 billion. Several upgrade projects are in various stages of completion and are already being advanced under separate environmental documents. The intent of the EA is to cover the remaining sections of US 77 that will need to be upgraded.

Currently a total of approximately $179 million has been obligated to advance US 77 upgrade projects.

Public hearings on the Draft EA were scheduled for the following locations:

Franks Tourist Center, Raymondville - Feb. 2; Sarita School Cafeteria - Feb. 6; Riviera School Cafeteria - Feb. 7; Kingsville Holiday Inn Express - Feb. 8; and Driscoll Elementary School Cafeteria - Feb. 9. Each day an open house will begin at 4:30 p.m. and a presentation will be made at 5:30 p.m.

The deadline for submitting written comments is February 21st. Send comments to:

US 77 Upgrade, PO Box 3706, Corpus Christi, TX 78463.