On Friday, sign unveiling ceremonies in Cameron County and on the Kenedy-Willacy County line marked the designation of additional miles of freeway in South Texas.
The Kenedy-Willacy event north of Raymondville celebrated the addition of just over 5.5 new miles of I-69E, a $38 million project that entered Kenedy County about a mile , according to Texas Department of Transportation Pharr District Engineer Pete Alvarez. .
“We still have 47 miles to go to reach the Kleberg County line,” he said. “We expect these projects to be completed around 2030.”
But a mile north of Willacy County to Brownsville is now officially I-69E. For the Cameron County ceremony, held at the intersection of I-169 and Parades Line Road, officials unveiled a new I-169 sign designating an additional two miles, which cost $8 million to be built, of the road connecting the port of Brownsville with I -69E. That leaves a 1.5-mile gap, a $20 million project slated to begin construction next fall, Alvarez said. Once completed, it will be interstate from I-69E to the port, he said.
The Texas portion of I-69, which will eventually connect Canada to Mexico, includes several projects to make the entire stretch between Brownsville and Corpus Christi a quality interstate highway – that is, without stop lights and stop signs – with the designation I-69E. Alvarez said the biggest challenge to doing it quickly is funding, hence the 2030 estimate for completion.
“Our goal is to continue to develop projects and get them ready if funding becomes available,” he said. “Projects like these are built to interstate standards, which means they meet all of the safety requirements, all of the design standards, to be officially designated as an interstate highway.”
Cameron County Judge Eddie Trevino Jr. called it a “great day for Cameron County,” adding that “it’s been a long time coming.”
“It makes (the port) and our region obviously much more competitive and much more attractive in terms of the overall movement of goods, economic development and the investment of state and federal transportation dollars,” said he declared.
Trevino expressed his gratitude to County Commissioners Sofia Benavides and David Garza, as well as former County Commissioner and current Harbor Commissioner John Wood, for championing the interstate draft.
“We’re really excited about where we are today,” Trevino said.
Polk County Judge Sydney Murphy, president of the Alliance for I-69 Texas, was on hand for Friday’s ceremonies and said the large number of elected officials, TxDOT officials in attendance illustrated the partnerships who make such large-scale projects successful.
“You have cities, you have counties, you have port authorities, you have every possible agency and entity represented, and a tremendous partnership with the State of Texas, with TxDOT and its staff, with the (Federal Highway Administration ),” she said. .
The Alliance for I-69 Texas was formed in 1993.
Mark Williams, executive director of TxDOT, was also on hand for the unveilings and also touted the partnerships making the multiple I-69 projects possible.
“It was about 10 years ago when we were here celebrating the first-ever designation of Interstate 69,” he said. “There are well over 100 miles of highway now in the (Rio Grande) Valley and more to come.”