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Author Topic: I-69 in TX  (Read 524806 times)

Grzrd

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Re: I-69 in TX
« Reply #150 on: June 30, 2012, 11:33:43 AM »

Farenthold has filed his bill, and the two US Senators from Texas are apparently filing a companion bill in the Senate:
http://www.brownsvilleherald.com/news/immigration-126797-country-portion.html
Quote
... U.S. Rep. Blake Farenthold, R-Corpus Christi, whose district also includes a portion of Cameron County, introduced H.R. 1535, Interstate Designation for Portions of the I-69 Route, with the full support of the entire Texas delegation.
H.R. 1535 would allow portions of I-69 (US 59, 77, and 281) to be desig-nated as an interstate once segments are constructed to interstate standard, Farenthold said. If enacted, the bill would facilitate interstate signage on the multi-state I-69 corridor stretching from Port Huron, Mich., to the U.S.-Mexico border in Texas.

Rep. Farenthold's office has issued a press release in which he expresses his pleasure that more I-69 signage can soon take place now that the bill has been passed (and will become law as soon as Obama signs it):

Quote
Today, the House of Representatives voted on a two year agreement to fund our transportation systems. Included in the H.R. 4348 Conference Report, is language, proposed by Congressman Blake Farenthold (TX-27), allowing highways that meet interstate standards and approved by the Secretary of Transportation, to be signed as an interstate. Many South Texas communities along US 59, 77 and 281 will soon have access to an interstate ....
A link to H.R. 4348 can be found here.
The language referenced in this release is on page 23 - (b) Inclusion of Certain Route Segments on Interstate system(1)(B) [in the second sentence, by striking ‘‘that the segment’ and all that follows through the period and inserting ‘‘that the segment meets the Interstate System design standards approved by the Secretary under section 109(b) of title 23, United States Code, and is planned to connect to an existing Interstate System segment…]

The Alliance For I-69 Texas has worked closely with the Texas delegation on the two bills.  I recently emailed
Quote
Thanks for your inquiry.  The priority for the Alliance and the communities along the corridor is to get the interstate designation and shield ... As for US 83, we are attempting to add that to the I-69 Corridor designation as it serves as a vital connector between US 281 and US 77 and it is currently at interstate standards. 
Jennifer Shepard
Executive Director
Alliance for I-69 Texas

As far as I can tell, it looks like the  "US 83 as part of I-69 Corridor" provision did not survive the final bill.  However, I think that, because US 83 is currently at interstate standards, the following provision from the bill (page 21/599 of pdf) may allow designation of US 83 as an interstate in the near future:

Quote
‘‘(4) INTERSTATE SYSTEM DESIGNATIONS.—
‘‘(A) ADDITIONS.—If the Secretary determines that a highway on the National Highway System meets all standards of a highway on the Interstate System and that the highway is a logical addition or connection to the Interstate System, the Secretary may, upon the affirmative recommendation of the State or States in which the highway is located, designate the highway as a route on the Interstate System.

TxDOT would have to convince FHWA that US 83 would be a "logical addition or connection" to the interstate system, but that should be relatively easy to do once the border sections of US 77 and/or US 281 are signed as interstates.
« Last Edit: June 30, 2012, 05:35:49 PM by Grzrd »
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Grzrd

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Re: I-69 in TX
« Reply #151 on: June 30, 2012, 08:09:08 PM »

I recently received an email response from FHWA's National Systems and Economic Team to a question about I-69 signage in Texas.  If I read the response correctly, it looks like, in the absence of an amendment to current I-69 legislation, in the future not only will the current US 77/I-69 corridor have to be re-signed, but also the US 77 and US 281 corridors will have some interesting shields indeed:
Quote
... regarding the recent addition of US 77 as I-69.  Section 1105(e)(5)(C)(i) of ISTEA amended, designates future Interstate routes along High Priority Corridor (HPC) #20 as “I-69”, HPC # (c)(18)(D)(i) as “I-69 East”, and HPC # (c)(18)(D)(ii) as “I-69 Central”.  These three future I-69 corridors correspond to US 59, US 77, and US 281 respectively. Since there are no other approved additions along the “I-69” or “I-69 Central” Texas corridors, the US 77 segment was added as I-69 to avoid To avoid driver confusion.  Once segments are added along the other two corridors the State will need to sign the routes accordingly.
It is conceivable that the "I-69 terminus at the Mexican border" provision could be included in the extension.  Doing so would raise two immediate related questions: (1) what interstate designation do you give the US 281 border segment (will FHWA really mandate "I-69 Central"?), and (2) would the current US 77/I-69 segment have to be re-signed as "I-69 East" because of the interstate signage of the US 281 section?
A third question would be whether the Texas delegation would have the foresight to include language that would do away with the mandatory designations.
Rep. Farenthold's office has issued a press release in which he expresses his pleasure that more I-69 signage can soon take place now that the bill has been passed (and will become law as soon as Obama signs it):
Quote
Many South Texas communities along US 59, 77 and 281 will soon have access to an interstate ....

Well, as far as I can tell, the statutory designations for the I-69 Corridor in Texas were not amended by the new highway bill.  South Texas communities along US 59 and US 281 will "soon" have access to an interstate.  The FHWA National Systems and Economic Team has indicated that, once that happens, Texas will need to sign the routes accordingly.

Any predictions on the eventual signage designation outcome?
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Re: I-69 in TX
« Reply #152 on: June 30, 2012, 09:22:55 PM »

Wait, so does this mean that AASHTO is cut out of the loop on Interstate designations?
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Grzrd

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Re: I-69 in TX
« Reply #153 on: June 30, 2012, 10:18:27 PM »

^ ^ In the case of I-69 (and several other interstates, now including I-11), the interstate designations are required by federal statute.  In the case of a sole designation as an interstate for one of these "statutory interstates", AASHTO basically receives a courtesy copy.  However, AASHTO still has a role to play in the request for a dual designation: for example, TxDOT's recent request for I-69/US 59 dual designation northeast of Houston.

edit - Here's a prior thread on AASHTO and I-69
« Last Edit: June 30, 2012, 10:23:42 PM by Grzrd »
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Grzrd

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Re: I-69 in TX
« Reply #154 on: July 01, 2012, 11:27:16 AM »

Rep. Farenthold's office has issued a press release in which he expresses his pleasure that more I-69 signage can soon take place now that the bill has been passed (and will become law as soon as Obama signs it)

The Alliance for I-69 Texas also expresses pleasure in its I-69 Scores Victory in Passage of MAP-21 Highway Bill article on its website.  The article identifies approximately 100 miles of roadway that might be signed in the near future:

Quote
In a major victory for Texans, language sought by the Alliance for I-69 Texas is included as part of the two-year $140 million MAP-21 highway funding bill approved by Congress this week.
The language changes existing law by removing the requirement that completed highway segments must be connected to an existing interstate highway before they can be added to the Interstate Highway System.
Now the law allows sections of the I-69 routes that are at interstate standard but are not connected to an existing interstate to be designated as part of the Interstate Highway System and signed.
This change in federal law will facilitate the designation and signing of about 100 miles of I-69 routes that are already at or near interstate highway standard. Completed sections of US 59, US 77 and US 281 that could be considered are in Cameron, Hidalgo, Willacy, Kleberg, Brooks, San Patricio, Jackson, Wharton, Fort Bend, Liberty, San Jacinto, Polk, Angelina and Nacogdoches Counties.  The longest of these sections is more than 40 miles of existing US 77 freeway through Brownsville and Harlingen. There is a 16 mile long completed section of US 281 in the McAllen-Edinburg area.

FUTURE SIGNAGE


When other upgrade projects are completed in the future it will be possible under the new law to routinely add them to the Interstate System. This approach to signing disconnected completed sections was common when the original Interstate System was being built in the 1960 and 1970s ....
« Last Edit: July 01, 2012, 11:54:03 AM by Grzrd »
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Grzrd

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Re: I-69 in TX
« Reply #155 on: July 05, 2012, 08:05:16 AM »

Several I-69 projects are included in TxDOT's Projects Selected for $2 Billion Allocation list:
Quote
...
(US 281) Premont relief route - $41 million
...
It looks like the most immediate progress will be on the US 281 Premont relief route and the US 77 Driscoll-Kingsville design-build projects.

Maybe it will take a while for the US 281 Premont project to come together. This article indicates that the route has yet to be decided:

Quote
Some of the Coastal Bend's highest priority transportation projects have been funded, including a controversial plan to reroute U.S. Highway 281 in Premont ....
The state also approved $41 million for ... Upgrading the stretch of U.S. Highway 281 that runs through the center of Premont.
The route has yet to be decided. The state has narrowed the options to two: One calls for an overpass over town with access roads on both sides that could displace highway restaurants and gas stations while the other calls for rerouting the highway around the town's eastern edge. City Council has approved a resolution supporting the eastern route.
Although some in town hoped the state wouldn't proceed with the project, doing nothing is not an option, especially now the project is funded, City Councilman Matthew Pérez said. He said the town now must come to terms with which is the best option, the eastern relief route or the through-town option.
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Grzrd

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Re: I-69 in TX
« Reply #156 on: July 06, 2012, 09:53:56 AM »

TxDOT recently posted the Segment 3 Committee's December 16, 2011 Notes on its website.  In the Notes, there is an interesting summary of how the designation of US 59 as I-69 will affect concrete companies in the greater Houston area (pages 2-3/11 of pdf; pages 2-3 of document):

Quote
A committee member reported that there is a large ready mix concrete plant in Rosenberg, Fort Bend County, which depends upon U.S. 59 for transportation. A representative from the plant notified the committee member that the plant’s transport fleet of vehicles is permitted to use U.S. routes but have restictions on interstates. It was further explained that the plant would need to modify its entire fleet in order to utilize the interstate with an advanced lead time of up to 18 to 24 months to complete the installation process. In response, Marc Williams indicated that the committee could call attention to this issue in their report. Another committee member suggested that TxDOT explore possible courses of actions that could be taken to potentially resolve this issue. This information could also be included in the report. The concrete plant representative further explained that an interstate restriction along the currently designated U.S. 59 route would affect several concrete companies in the Houston region. To utilize the interstate, the concrete companies would need to reduce their loads by 40 percent which would not be economical. Consequently, the only other options would be to find alternative routes or to modify their entire fleets by adding an extra axle. It would cost approximately $20,000 per vehicle to retrofit it with the extra axle. It was further emphasized that the concrete industry in the region would need enough lead time to either work with federal and state legislators to modify the current regulatory restrictions and/or to modify the their fleets.

I had not realized that there was such a large difference in weight restrictions on interstates as compared to US routes.
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blawp

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Re: I-69 in TX
« Reply #157 on: July 07, 2012, 09:02:50 PM »

Houston businesses notoriously whine about rules, especially those imposed by the Federal Government. I think it's a red herring.
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InterstateNG

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Re: I-69 in TX
« Reply #158 on: July 08, 2012, 02:31:07 AM »

So do California businesses.
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Re: I-69 in TX
« Reply #159 on: July 08, 2012, 12:08:14 PM »

It seems like all of the concrete and gravel trucks near interstate 210 in Irwindale have figured out the weight limit issue...
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Grzrd

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Re: I-69 in TX
« Reply #160 on: July 13, 2012, 09:20:22 PM »

This article indicates an interesting form of alternative financing for I-69, a dedicated freight fee:

Quote
James Carlow, who represents the Texarkana Chamber of Commerce for the I-69 project .... said he expects funding for the I-69 project to partially come from a dedicated 20 percent fee directed from freight revenue transferred from the Port of Houston to Texarkana.

I have spoken with Judge Carlow, and I believe that, in his comments from the above article, he was probably speaking about the Frieght Shuttle as indicated in this post from the "Texarkana; (Future I-49, I-69 Spur)" thread:

After sending out an email with some questions about the I-69 Spur, I eventually was referred to and had a very interesting conversation with an individual who serves on both the I-69 for Texas Alliance and the TxDOT I-69 Segment 1 Committee ... The thought is to pursue the notion of TexAmericas Center becoming an inland port ... The idea is to lease the air space over the I-69 Corridor from Texarkana to an as yet undetermined Texas Gulf port.  A private group of investors would then build an elevated Freight Shuttle track within the ground-level ROW of I-69 between Texarkana and the Gulf port.  The money from the air rights would be used to at least partially fund I-69 construction along the route of the track.  Also, the hope is that TexAmericas Center would also be the location of a manufacturing plant for the shuttle cars. The cost per mile for freight using the Shuttle is estimated to be 30 cents per mile and the cost per mile by truck is estimated to be $2.30 per mile. Apparently, this idea is being studied very seriously.
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dariusb

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Re: I-69 in TX
« Reply #161 on: July 14, 2012, 03:47:40 AM »

This article indicates an interesting form of alternative financing for I-69, a dedicated freight fee:

Quote
James Carlow, who represents the Texarkana Chamber of Commerce for the I-69 project .... said he expects funding for the I-69 project to partially come from a dedicated 20 percent fee directed from freight revenue transferred from the Port of Houston to Texarkana.

I have spoken with Judge Carlow, and I believe that, in his comments from the above article, he was probably speaking about the Frieght Shuttle as indicated in this post from the "Texarkana; (Future I-49, I-69 Spur)" thread:

After sending out an email with some questions about the I-69 Spur, I eventually was referred to and had a very interesting conversation with an individual who serves on both the I-69 for Texas Alliance and the TxDOT I-69 Segment 1 Committee ... The thought is to pursue the notion of TexAmericas Center becoming an inland port ... The idea is to lease the air space over the I-69 Corridor from Texarkana to an as yet undetermined Texas Gulf port.  A private group of investors would then build an elevated Freight Shuttle track within the ground-level ROW of I-69 between Texarkana and the Gulf port.  The money from the air rights would be used to at least partially fund I-69 construction along the route of the track.  Also, the hope is that TexAmericas Center would also be the location of a manufacturing plant for the shuttle cars. The cost per mile for freight using the Shuttle is estimated to be 30 cents per mile and the cost per mile by truck is estimated to be $2.30 per mile. Apparently, this idea is being studied very seriously.

Wow! Very interesting.
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Grzrd

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FONSI Issued For US 77 to I-69 Upgrade in Texas
« Reply #162 on: July 14, 2012, 08:54:42 PM »

TxDOT also has a US 77 Upgrade page with pdfs of the Draft Environmental Assessment.

This article reports that the the FHWA, on July 10, issued a Finding of No Significant Impact for upgrades planned for US 77 between Corpus Christi and Harlingen:

Quote
Officials said they have received environmental clearance to upgrade a portion of U.S. 77 between Corpus Christi and Brownsville to interstate standards.
The Federal Highway Administration on July 10 issued a “Finding of No Significant Impact” for the improvements to the segment, officials said.
This is huge for South Texas,” said David E. Allex, chairman of the Cameron County Regional Mobility Authority ....
The environmental approvals just announced are for a list of upgrades to Expressway 77 from Corpus Christi to Brownsville, Allex said. Those projects include improvements to overpasses, underpasses and the frontage road to eventually turn Expressway 77 into a limited-access highway that will become part of I-69, which is planned to connect South Texas to the Midwest and Canada, he said.

I find it fascinating how they use off ramps to handle the many ranch "gate crossings" along the route, as well as the strategic cattle crossings they would have.

The Alliance for I-69 Texas also has an article about the issuance of the FONSI and it discusses the method of ranch access:

Quote
An interesting element of the schematic plans included in the EA is the way ranch access is to be accomplished in the 42-mile passage through Kenedy County where there are no public roads crossing US 77. This highway passes through sections of the King Ranch, the Kenedy Ranch and the Armstrong Ranch, all of which span the highway and the adjacent Union Pacific Railroad. Brief sections of access road will be built near ranch gates to allow traffic on and off the freeway lanes. Overpasses will be built at intervals of 5 to 10 miles to allow traffic to reverse direction. Below is a simplified drawing of a ranch gate access point. This arrangement will avoid the need to build long stretches of dual frontage roads that have little transportation value.



The Alliance article also estimates the total cost of the upgrades to be in the neighborhood of $1 billion:

Quote
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.
« Last Edit: May 31, 2013, 10:10:11 PM by Grzrd »
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Re: I-69 in TX
« Reply #163 on: July 14, 2012, 09:04:52 PM »

That ranch access is a very good idea on the designer's part. Do you know if those ranch access points would be signed as exits or not, since the diagram includes ramps?
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Re: I-69 in TX
« Reply #164 on: July 14, 2012, 09:09:08 PM »

With the U-turns it's a lot like the 'Jersey freeway' concept.

Or they could pull an I-10 in west Texas and keep the at-grades. Why were those allowed to be grandfathered there but not here?
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Grzrd

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Re: I-69 in TX
« Reply #165 on: July 17, 2012, 03:02:02 PM »

Is there a real need for US 77 to be a freeway?  Isn't it a 4 lane divided road from Victoria to Harlingen except for a few short stretches?  From the looks on the map, there are long stretches of nothing.  Isn't that good enough?  What is the speed limit (I'm guessing 70.)  If there are small towns it still goes through, then by all means bypass them but building a new interstate next to a perfectly good 4 lane highway seems wasteful to me.
I believe the road in between the small towns will be upgraded to interstate standards, but bypasses will be built around the towns.
(above quote from I-69 in TN thread)

This July 17 article reports that it will cost approximately $175 million to bring the approximate 130 miles from Corpus Christi to Harlingen up to interstate-grade, and the desire for interstate signage comes from the hope that the interstate signage will improve marketing efforts aimed at getting businesses to locate/relocate along the US 77 corridor:

Quote
Pete Sepulveda, county administrator and coordinator for the Cameron County Regional Mobility Authority, said the roughly 130 miles between Corpus Christi and Harlingen is some $175 million away from being ready for the I-69 moniker.
That cost breaks down to around $10 million for engineering and design, $15 million for right-of-way acquisition and $150 million for construction, he said.
The remaining construction projects, mostly concentrated in a 30-mile stretch of U.S. 77, include bypasses at Driscoll and Riviera and overpasses at Kingsville and Sarita, Sepulveda said ....
Also, the Texas Transportation Commission recently approved ... $60 million ... for designing and building interstate-quality freeway on U.S. 77 between Driscoll and the north side of Kingsville.
As for obtaining permission from the government to erect I-69 signs sooner than would have been possible otherwise and why it’s important, county officials say it’s largely about marketing.
“A lot of times when you’re trying to lure a business or industry to your community one of the first questions that’s asked is what is the interstate that goes into your community,” Sepulveda said.
“Well, we don’t have one. That’s a major turn-off for companies that require good access to deliver their products. It’s huge ....

$175 million for 130 miles of interstate seems like a pretty good deal.  They also seem to be aiming to have the US 77 corridor's conversion to interstate-grade facility to be funded and completed within three to five years:

Quote
“Having an interstate that goes directly into our international bridges will be a major accomplishment. It’s a priority for us and we’re going to try to have all the improvements funded and completed within the next three to five years,”

Pretty good timetable for 130 miles of interstate, too.

EDIT

This article also indicates that the Corpus Christi to Brownsville stretch of US 77 is only $160 million away from being completely upgraded to interstate quality:
http://www.brownsvilleherald.com/news/interstate-129742-closer-push.html
Quote
Sepulveda said the Corpus Christi-to-Brownsville stretch is about $160 million away from being completely upgraded to interstate quality.
The Alliance article also estimates the total cost of the upgrades to be in the neighborhood of $1 billion:
Quote
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.

I have not seen a copy of the FONSI posted on the internet yet.  I will be interested to see how the $1 billion was calculated and see why it differs from the county administrator's cited figure of $175 million.  Since the August, 2011 article reports a $160 million figure, I'm guessing $175 million is probably the more accurate construction cost estimate.

SECOND EDIT

TxDOT also has a US 77 Upgrade page with pdfs of the Draft Environmental Assessment.

I think I guessed wrong; the Environmental Assessment Volume 1 does provide a figure of $1.06 billion (pages 9-10/271 of pdf):

Quote
The estimated cost for the US 77 Upgrade Project proposed improvements is $1.06 Billion,
which includes:
• construction including: excavation, embankment, pavement, retaining walls, structures, drainage
• construction engineering
• miscellaneous costs (including supplemental work, cost escalation, bond options, contingencies)
• signing, striping, barricades, signs, and traffic handling
• environmental mitigation
• environmental analysis
• ROW acquisition
• mitigation of hazardous materials sites
• design including preliminary engineering
• utility relocations.
....
TxDOT is in the process of developing a project development plan to complete the US 77 upgrade program. This plan will identify the construction phasing, project costs, and reasonably anticipated funding for the next 25 years (2037).

I wonder how Mr. Sepulveda calculated his estimate; at any rate, it is not the bargain that I initially thought and it looks like they are planning on a 25 year construction horizon.
« Last Edit: May 31, 2013, 11:57:26 PM by Grzrd »
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Grzrd

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I-69 Comes to NE Houston
« Reply #166 on: July 26, 2012, 09:37:32 PM »

AASHTO SCOH's Special Committee on US Route Numbering (USRN) has posted its agenda for its Spring Meeting next week online at: http://www.transportation.org/sites/route/docs/Agenda%20USRN%20SM2012%20May%2018.pdf Page 14 includes an application from TxDOT for signing I-69 along 35 miles of US 59 from I-610 north to just north of the Liberty County line.
I recently received an email update from TxDOT regarding their efforts to receive FHWA approval for adding the section northeast of Houston to the interstate system; TxDOT hopes for FHWA approval later this summer and approval from the Texas Transportation Commission will still be necessary after FHWA approval in order for the dual I-69/ US 59 signage to occur
Don't forget Houston. I-69 will turn it from a cow town into an oil town.
(above quote from Texarkana; (Future I-49, I-69 Spur) thread)

This article reports that, today, the Texas Transportation Commission authorized the signing of a 35 mile stretch of I-69 northeast of Houston:

Quote
... In December, I-69 signs went up on a 6.2-mile section of U.S. 77 in Robstown.
"It's not an accident that the first sign was put up there," Texas Transportation Commissioner Jeff Austin said, saying South Texans are ahead of other areas of the state in terms of local leaders working together with state and federal officials to agree on project specifics and move them forward.
Thursday, the commission, holding a rare meeting outside Austin in Corpus Christi, authorized naming a 35-mile section of U.S. Highway 59 north of Houston as I-69. A key provision of the I-69 plan is to minimize new construction through the use of existing highways, many of which already are close to interstate highway standards. The roads may have interchanges and overpasses but lack on/off ramps, or vice versa.
It's now possible to start on I-69 in Robstown, pick it up again outside Houston, drive all the way to Mississippi without seeing it again, pick it up briefly there, briefly again in Kentucky, and then hit it again in Indianapolis, where it continues on to Canada.

Does Houston now officially qualify as a tri-interstate city?

EDIT

The Alliance for I-69 Texas also has a map and an article about the addition:



Quote
The Texas Transportation Commission has checked the final box to add 35 more miles of I-69 to the Interstate Highway System.
The new interstate segment starts at Interstate 610 North in Houston and extends north past Bush Intercontinental Airport and through Humble, Kingwood, Porter, New Caney and Splendora. The north end is just beyond the Montgomery-Liberty County Line ....
Designation of this new section as Interstate 69 was previously approved by the Houston-Galveston Area Council, the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, and the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA). The highway will be known concurrently as I-69 and US 59. ....
Two additional sections of US 59 in the Houston area that have long been at interstate highway standard are currently under review. The next to be added to the Interstate System is likely to be the Southwest Freeway from the I-610 Loop South down through Sugar Land and on to Rosenberg. The final Houston section is expected to be the part of US 59 inside Loop 610. Each designation requires an extensive submittal by the TxDOT and an exhaustive review by the federal FHWA to see that standards are being met.
« Last Edit: July 26, 2012, 11:27:08 PM by Grzrd »
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bassoon1986

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Re: I-69 in TX
« Reply #167 on: July 27, 2012, 01:37:25 PM »

I've lost my camera but I will be in Kingwood TX next weekend, which is along US59/new I-69 NE of Houston. I'll check out and take a picture somehow if there are new signs posted or space ready for signs
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Grzrd

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Re: I-69 in TX
« Reply #168 on: July 27, 2012, 09:21:40 PM »

As far as I can tell, it looks like the  "US 83 as part of I-69 Corridor" provision did not survive the final bill.  However, I think that, because US 83 is currently at interstate standards, the following provision from the bill ... may allow designation of US 83 as an interstate in the near future:
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‘‘(4) INTERSTATE SYSTEM DESIGNATIONS.—
‘‘(A) ADDITIONS.—If the Secretary determines that a highway on the National Highway System meets all standards of a highway on the Interstate System and that the highway is a logical addition or connection to the Interstate System, the Secretary may, upon the affirmative recommendation of the State or States in which the highway is located, designate the highway as a route on the Interstate System.
TxDOT would have to convince FHWA that US 83 would be a "logical addition or connection" to the interstate system, but that should be relatively easy to do once the border sections of US 77 and/or US 281 are signed as interstates.

TxDOT has announced that the five I-69 Committees have released their respective final reports. The combined Segments Four and Five report has interesting recommendations for immediate interstate designations along the Mexican border, including an interstate designation for US 83, which includes a section of US 83 west of US 281 (page 44/165 of pdf; page 38 of document):

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Dually Designate US 83 as Interstate in Hidalgo and Cameron Counties – The committee members advocated the need to seek interstate designation for US 83 in the Rio Grande Valley noting its role in serving major metropolitan population centers and border traffic. It was recommended that designating US 83 as an interstate would include consideration of US 83 from its interchange with US 77 in Cameron County to west of Mission in Hidalgo County.

A map showing the proposed border designations is below (page 45/165 of pdf; page 39 of document):

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O Tamandua

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Re: I-69 in TX
« Reply #169 on: July 27, 2012, 11:43:13 PM »

Question, Grzrd.

From what you see, will routes 281 (from McAllen area) and 77 (from Brownsville) be dual parts of I-69, functioning like I-35W and I-35E in the Dallas/Fort Worth area?  It's understood that the lower Rio Grande valley is quite populous now, but I'm kind of confused at what the TxDOT is trying to do.

Thanks in advance.
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Grzrd

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Re: I-69 in TX
« Reply #170 on: July 28, 2012, 09:57:03 AM »

will routes 281 (from McAllen area) and 77 (from Brownsville) be dual parts of I-69, functioning like I-35W and I-35E in the Dallas/Fort Worth area?  It's understood that the lower Rio Grande valley is quite populous now, but I'm kind of confused at what the TxDOT is trying to do.

You are not alone.  Throughout this thread, many people question the need for the parallel US 77 and US 281 corridors:

Seeing that US 77 and US 281 are pretty close together, they'd be better off upgrading one to Interstate standards and leaving the other as is.
Why are they building 2 parallel interstates in south Texas?  They're just a few miles apart.  Wouldn't a 4 lane expressway with bypasses be enough for one of the two roads?
why does either need to be freeway in the first place? Are there problems with the occasional at-grade that currently exists?

There is even a My Take on the I-69 Southern Extension thread in Fictional Highways.
Above said, the I-69 Corridor has been statutorily designated by Congress, and the US 59, US 77, and US 281 corridors are all part of the "I-69 Corridor" (currently, US 83 is not part of the statutory I-69 Corridor).  TxDOT is simply trying to build and sign as much of its I-69 Corridor as it can.  Regarding signage (and your I-35E/ I-35W analogy), I am very interested in how TxDOT will sign the different corridors, particularly in light of recent communications from FHWA:

I recently received an email response from FHWA's National Systems and Economic Team to a question about I-69 signage in Texas.  If I read the response correctly, it looks like, in the absence of an amendment to current I-69 legislation, in the future not only will the current US 77/I-69 corridor have to be re-signed, but also the US 77 and US 281 corridors will have some interesting shields indeed:
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... regarding the recent addition of US 77 as I-69.  Section 1105(e)(5)(C)(i) of ISTEA amended, designates future Interstate routes along High Priority Corridor (HPC) #20 as “I-69”, HPC # (c)(18)(D)(i) as “I-69 East”, and HPC # (c)(18)(D)(ii) as “I-69 Central”.  These three future I-69 corridors correspond to US 59, US 77, and US 281 respectively.  Since there are no other approved additions along the “I-69” or “I-69 Central” Texas corridors, the US 77 segment was added as I-69 to avoid To avoid driver confusion.  Once segments are added along the other two corridors the State will need to sign the routes accordingly.

The primary reason MAP-21 now allows signage of disconnected segments of I-69 is that the lower Rio Grande valley wants interstate signage along both the US 77 and US 281 corridors sooner rather than later. Can TxDOT avoid a federal statute? Stay tuned.
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Re: I-69 in TX
« Reply #171 on: July 29, 2012, 11:49:58 AM »

My guess is that they all will get temporary I-69 shields for themselves, and will figure out the details later.

I still don't think it's appropriate, since the original I-69 is supposed to use the US 59 corridor from Laredo to Houston..and that is nowhere near even 4-lane, never mind Interstate compatible. It's going to be quite interesting when they will be asked to pull those shields for more appropriate numbers.

I've said my peace on what the numbers should be, so I won't repeat it here.
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Grzrd

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Re: I-69 in TX
« Reply #172 on: July 29, 2012, 02:33:08 PM »

the original I-69 is supposed to use the US 59 corridor from Laredo to Houston..and that is nowhere near even 4-lane, never mind Interstate compatible.

Speaking of Laredo, it is interesting (and practical) that, in the combined Segments Four and Five report, the Segment 5 Committee recommends that (among their top five priorities), because of ROW and congestion problems along US 59 in Laredo, instead of having I-69 end at the current southern terminus of US 59, perhaps I-69 could be routed along Loop 20 from the Mexican border to the current Loop 20/ US 59 interchange (page 46/165 of pdf; page 40 of document):

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US 59 from Mexico Border to East of Laredo – Due to limited right-of-way and congestion along existing US 59 in Laredo, committee members recommended that future I-69 planning in Laredo consider an eastern relief route that could potentially utilize existing Loop 20, provide an interchange with I-35 and connect to the World Trade Bridge border crossing with Mexico.

It would also be similar to the southern terminus of I-49 (I-10 interchange in New Orleans) in that one would need to make a significant drive south in order to drive north.  :-P

Loop 20 is not part of the statutorily defined I-69 Corridor.  however, SH 44 is part of the statutorily defined I-69 CorridorNeither is SH 44; nevertheless, SH 44 interchanges with US 59 and US 281 are two of the other top five priorities from the Segment 5 Committee (page 46/165 of pdf; page 40 of document):
(edited to correct status of SH 44)

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US 59/SH 44 Relief Route at FreerAn interchange with US 59 and SH 44 and a relief route for Freer was recommended by the committee members to be incorporated into future planning. The members noted that limited right-of way along existing US 59 through Freer required consideration of a relief route around the community.   
SH 44 Relief Route at AliceA relief route for SH 44 at Alice that includes an interchange with US 281 was identified as a priority section by the committee due to limited right-of-way and congestion along SH 44 in Alice. As noted above, the planning for the relief routes of Alice and San Diego should be a coordinated effort.

Below is a map showing the Segment 5 Committee priorities (page 47/165 of pdf; page 41 of document):

« Last Edit: July 31, 2012, 12:08:22 PM by Grzrd »
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Re: I-69 in TX
« Reply #173 on: July 30, 2012, 10:32:52 AM »

Will there be enough 'I-x69' numbers available in Texas to give all of those 'I-69' routes numbers?  The US 281 part for example, IMHO, would do better as an 'I-x37'.

Mike
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Re: I-69 in TX
« Reply #174 on: July 30, 2012, 10:36:12 AM »

TxDOT has updated its I-69 Segment Committees page by adding notes from November, 2011 meetings of the five committees .... Regarding Houston relief options ... Committee 3 discussed that an Early Implementation Opportunity would be to study relief options and not just potential relief routes [page 4/30 of pdf]:
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• Perform a study U.S. 59 relief options for Houston. It was noted that the U.S. 59 relief options for Houston might not be just a relief route and could include improvements such as widenings and interchanges.
Committee 2 also views the study of relief options for Houston as a Recommended Priority [page 4/32 of pdf].
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The Texas Transportation Commission has checked the final box to add 35 more miles of I-69 to the Interstate Highway System.
The new interstate segment starts at Interstate 610 North in Houston and extends north past Bush Intercontinental Airport and through Humble, Kingwood, Porter, New Caney and Splendora. The north end is just beyond the Montgomery-Liberty County Line .... The highway will be known concurrently as I-69 and US 59.

As regards relief options in Houston, in both the I-69 Segment Two Committee Report and Recommendations (pages 37-38/157; pages 31-32 of document) and the I-69 Segment Three Committee Report and Recommendations (page 36/157; page 30 of document), the Segment Two and Segment Three Committees discussed three things: (1) highways they recommend serving as I-69, (2) highways to be part of  the I-69 program and (3) important connections to the I-69 system.  Three observations: (1) US 59 will definitely serve as I-69 through Houston, (2) the Committees did not tip their hand as far as recommending a specific relief route, and (3) at the risk of parsing the language too closely, by not limiting "important connections to the I-69 system" to highways, the Committees probably intend for studies to include non-highway options for freight, including the Freight Shuttle along the I-69 corridor (discussed in this thread).

The language regarding Houston relief options in the two Committee reports is identical:

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Relief Options in Houston – In the first few months of meeting, the committee discussed highways they recommend serving as I-69, highways to be part of the I-69 program and important connections to the I-69 system. In developing recommendations for the Houston area, committee members from that area met to discuss their recommended highway to serve as I-69 and also discussed the importance of providing connectivity to the Port of Houston and other ports along the Texas gulf coast. This discussion concluded with the committee recommending that US 59 through Houston serve as I-69 and that relief options within and around the Houston area be studied and considered to provide convenient, vital access to the sea ports along the coast, as well as additional options for through travelers to bypass Houston instead of having to use US 59 or other routes to travel through Houston. Such a study should include financial and technical participation from TxDOT.

However, it is clear that the two Committees want the relief options to provide access to Texas gulf coast ports.  I'm sure the immediate focus is on I-69 signage for the two segments through Houston and southwest of Houston before there will be much movement on studying relief options.
« Last Edit: July 30, 2012, 11:03:58 AM by Grzrd »
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