Tuesday, November 21, 2006

TxDOT "clears up the facts" about TTC 69

TxDOT addresses I-69 concerns


By: TRACY DANG, Managing Editor
The Sealy News
Copyright 2006

Residents of Austin County and the surrounding area have expressed concerns lately about the proposed Interstate 69/Trans-Texas Corridor, and the Texas Department of Transportation (Tx-DOT) is addressing some of the concerns to "clear up the facts."

Interstate 69 is a planned 1,600-mile national highway stretching through eight states connecting Mexico, the United States and Canada. The initial study area is approximately 650 miles long, extending from Texarkana/Shreveport to Mexico.

"We're in the middle of our Tier 1 environmental study that is looking at several different options," said Paul Frerich, Director of Transportation Planning and Development from the TxDOT Yoakum District office.

"Our first option is expanding the existing U.S. 59 because I-69 will go in the same direction as U.S. 59. Our second option is trying to find another location where a roadway can be built.

"Right now, the study area is 45-50 miles wide. The more we study the area, the more we narrow it down. At the end of the Tier 1 environmental study, we will be able to narrow it down to a four-mile area."

A series of public hearings to review and comment on results of the initial study phase is tentatively planned for the spring.

Frerich explained if TxDOT determines that expanding U.S. 59 is not practical and that a new roadway is needed, TxDOT would need to do a Tier 2 environmental study to narrow down the four-mile area to an actual location.

"That study would probably take about the same amount of time as the Tier 1 study, in the neighborhood of a year to two years," he said.

Frerich explained even after the Tier 2 environmental study is completed, TxDOT would need to find some way to fund the project.

"Right now, a funding mechanism hasn't been identified," he said. "There is no money available, so this project is several years down the road."

TxDOT encourages people to keep up with the status of the project at www.keeptexasmoving.com and pay attention to any notices regarding the upcoming public meetings.

You may contact Tracy at editor@sealynews.com or (979) 885-3562.

© 2006 Sealy Publications, Inc. : www.sealynews.com