16 Aug 2011, 11:47am

Comments Off on First I-69 signs to go up in Robstown

First I-69 signs to go up in Robstown

I-69 mapThe Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) has given approval to sign the first segment of Interstate 69 in Texas. The 6-mile section of US 77 stretching from I-37 to Robstown just west of Corpus Christi will likely get the signs later this year. That section of road was upgraded to interstate standards by TxDOT back in 2006 and is part of the larger I-69 corridor plan for Texas. That plan also includes US 59 through East and South Texas and US 281 south of I-37. Lower Rio Grande Valley officials are also hoping to get US 83 through the Valley added to the corridor designation. The Valley is the largest urban area in the US not connected to the Interstate system.

Signing the segments that are at Interstate-standards is an important first step in the overall I-69 project. Besides the public awareness it brings, it also allows the route to receive special federal Interstate maintenance funding and makes obtaining funding to extend it south a bit easier.

Other sections of US 77 near Harlingen and Brownsville are also already at Interstate standards, but existing federal law does not allow them to be signed as I-69 yet because they don’t connect to an existing Interstate highway. The Texas congressional delegation is sponsoring a bill that would change that and allow for those sections to be officially designated and signed as I-69. In the meantime, TxDOT is preparing to submit a request to FHWA to approve US 59 through Houston as the next designated section of I-69 in Texas. That approval is expected to come next spring.

Technically, before the signs can go up in Robstown, there are a couple of approvals remaining. First, the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) must approve the use of the I-69 number (FHWA only approves adding a segment to the Interstate system; AASHTO assigns the actual route number.)  Then the Texas Transportation Commission must approve adding the route number to the state inventory. Both of those actions are expected before Thanksgiving, allowing signs to go up before the end of the year.



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