Tuesday, November 28, 2006

TxDOT pushes TTC-69 in Corpus Christi

TxDOT calls for added infrastructure to meet new demands on port

Nov 28, 2006

Bart Bedsole
Channel 6 KRIS-TV (Corpus Christi, TX)
Copyright 2006

CORPUS CHRISTI - The Texas Department of Transportation is calling for more infrastructure around Texas seaports to handle more traffic from the Panama Canal. A study released Tuesday indicates the expansion of the canal will have a major impact up and down the Texas coast, creating the need for more roads and more railroads.

Just a few weeks ago, the citizens of Panama voted in favor of a $5.25 billion project to widen the canal, allowing all cargo ships to pass through - not just the ones small enough to fit.

That means lots more cargo coming into the Gulf of Mexico and more jobs for ports like the one here in Corpus Christi. And now, TxDOT is evaluating the needs beyond the coastline to ensure we can handle the traffic when it arrives.

Right about the time larger cargo ships are coming through Panama around 20:15, La Quinta Container Terminal near Portland should be up and running. Officials at the Port of Corpus Christi said a deep channel and quick access to the Gulf will help to attract a large amount of new business.

TxDOT is already preparing for the rush. A study released this week found that Corpus Christi, Houston and Texas City will all see more congestion on highways also. The study recommends that the Trans-Texas Corridor system be constructed to address those needs, and that officials also look closely at how the highway system connects to the ports.

Port chairman Ruben Bonilla said traffic on local roads and rails is currently not an issue in Corpus Christi but that improvements could enhance transportation elsewhere. For example, Laredo will be an important link for truck traffic, but Highways 44 and 59 are not as efficient as they could be.

Highway 281 to the Rio Grande Valley will also be an important route, but it's currently not up to interstate standards.

Within a few years, 80 percent of the world's cargo will be shipped in containers, and state officials are working to make sure the shipments are able to reach their destinatons on time so that ports like Corpus Christi can meet the growing demand.

Online Reporter: Bart Bedsole

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