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Texas growth on the highway: I-69 designation as an interstate means more jobs, economic development
Photo courtesy of the state of Texas - Gov. Rick Perry speaks on behalf of the economic growth to come from I-69.
As Texas continues to lead the nation in job creation, ensuring the state's infrastructure can withstand the boom in business is critical now more than ever.
Monday, the Texas Department of Transportation updated lawmakers on the progress of the Interstate 69 corridor and announced new federal designation of more than 28 miles of existing highway around Houston. Being developed on existing roadways as a critical artery for moving freight, I-69 will ultimately become a 1,600-mile-long highway stretching from Michigan to Texas.
"I-69 represents a vital component in our thriving and growing economy, not just in eastern Texas or in South Texas but across the entire state," Gov. Rick Perry said. "The quality of our transportation system plays a decisive role when employers consider expanding or relocating here. That's why we need to continue investing in infrastructure projects like I-69."
The interstate links three major east- and west-Texas interstates: I-10, I-20 and I-30. U.S. 80 feeds into I-30 after traveling along the southern border of Sunnyvale.
Commissioners on the Texas Transportation Commission said the new interstate provides a critical national connection as well.
"Interstate 69 is important in providing safety, mobility and connectivity between rural and urban Texas," said Jeff Austin, Texas Transportation Commission.
From North to South Texas, communities will see the economic benefits of I-69. The interstate is expected to be a critical artery for moving agricultural, energy and industrial exports through the nation and beyond. It is also expected to attract more businesses to the Lone Star State.
"Economic development, commerce, safety and quality of life are all tangible benefits Texans will experience with the development of I-69," said Phil Wilson, TxDOT executive director. "The I-69 expansion can mean growth for communities in Texas and attract businesses that want to move products in all directions throughout Texas and the nation."
Additionally, due to its proximity to the state's sea ports, I-69 will serve as a vital artery for exporting Texas products.
"Texas' ports are perfectly positioned to make Texas a global gateway that will keep our economy booming for years to come, and the connectivity I-69 provides is critical in making that a reality," said Harris County Judge Ed Emmett, chair of the Panama Canal Stakeholder Working Group and member of the I-69 Segment Committee.
Significant progress has been made on I-69 since the Legislature last convened in 2011. The first sections of I-69 (now totaling 70 miles) have been designated as part of the national Interstate Highway System with approximately 130 additional miles of existing highway currently under consideration for designation. Additionally, more than $600 million dollars have been dedicated to studies and project development for I-69 Texas.
The success in developing I-69 is attributed to the partnership between federal, state and local leaders, the I-69 Advisory and Segment Committees, the Alliance for I-69 Texas and TxDOT.