The Alliance for I-69 Texas was formed in the early 1990's to be the advocate for upgrading existing highways US-59, US-77 and US-281 to interstate standard and having it designated and signed as I-69. During 2011, a tremendous milestone was cleared with the official interstate designation and signing of the first section of I-69 in Texas. Posting of these signs is tangible evidence of the real progress that is being made to complete I-69. As Commissioner Underwood said at the unveiling, "The interstate we are recognizing today may be short in length but it looms large in significance." In other words, you don't start an interstate unless you are going to find a way to complete it.
Due to the support from public and private sector leaders along the 1,000 milie route in Texas, the Alliance has been effective in garnering support from the wider community and increasing the momentum required to build this critical interstate highway. During 2011, the Alliance was heavily involved in numerous initiatives that impact the development of I-69.
- Working closely with Senator Nichols and Chairman Pickett, HB-563 was passed which allows counties and municipalities to create Transportation Reinvestment Zones (TRZs) to capture the incremental growth in both local ad valorem taxes and local sales taxes to fund locally approved transportation projects.
- Approval of CDA authority for eleven specific highway projects, including three on the I-69 route. In addition, enactment of language that provides defense base redevelopment authorities the ability to develop a transportation project on the base property and outside the base property to provide access to the base property. This will facilitate development of I-69 to Bowie County.
- Enactment of HB-630 granting authority to TxDOT, counties and regional tollway authorities to enter into funding agreements to expedite environmental reviews on transportation projects such as I-69.
- Passage of Proposition 12 to provide $3 Billion in general obligation bonds for highway improvements. Subsequently, TxDOT has allocated $89.9 Million in Prop 12 funds for I-69 projects.
- In Washington, every member of the Texas congressional delegation sponsored legislation introduced by Congressmen Farenthold and Hinojosa that would allow segments of I-69 that are at interstate standard, but not yet connected to an existing interstate, to be signed as an interstate. This is the same strategy that was utilized to build the interstate system originally and a strategy that will enable communities with interstate-standard segments to begin reaping the economic development benefits associated with connections to the interstate system. Senators Hutchison and Cornyn introduced companion legislation.
During 2012, the Alliance will actively participate in the ongoing development of the surface transportation authorization bill which will provide the framework for federal policy and investment in transportation. Furthermore, work will continue with congressional leaders to include the I-69 signage legislation into the multi-year surface transportation authorization bill.
Visit the Alliance for I-69 Texas website for more information and a map of the proposed highway route.