Designation Signals Promising Future for Valley
By William Keltner
The official designation of Interstate Highway I-69 in the Rio Grande Valley last month made history as South Texas’ first interstate corridor. The event marks more evidence of the Rio Grande Valley’s tremendous growth and promising future for international trade, business development, and tourism. The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) officially unveiled new highway signs designating more than 100 miles of regional roadway as part of Texas’ new Interstate I-69 highway system.
What this means is that drivers will now be seeing sections of existing US 77 and US 281 displaying the new red and blue signs. These new signs inform motorists that they are driving on a branch of Interstate Highway I-69 as they head north. Drivers on US 281 will see I-69C signs as they leave McAllen. Motorists on US 77 going north from Brownsville will be seeing I-69E interstate highway signs. The stretch between Harlingen and Mission on US 83 will display a single-digit sign I-2.
The purpose of the expanded highway system is to enhance mobility and attract international commerce to the border area according to Jeff Austin, Texas Transportation Commissioner.
In a press release, he said, “This marks a milestone for Texas, especially South Texas. These signs unveiled during the ceremony, symbolize the growth, connectivity, and economic development for a critical region of our great state.” He added, “The Rio Grande Valley has experienced tremendous growth over the past three decades, and we’re pleased to take this important step toward nurturing the economic prosperity of this hub of international trade.”
The records show that over 1 million people live in the five-county Rio Grande Valley, with probably 3 million people in adjacent Mexico. The ultimate goal of the ambitious Interstate Highway I-69 system is to become a 1,600-mile-long highway connecting Michigan to Texas, or put another way: It connects the Canadian border to the Mexican border.
He added that the deep-water port of Brownsville, combined with the international airports, and the multiple inland ports of entry, make the Rio Grande Valley a unique, natural hub for business development. These factors will make the region more competitive in the global market place.
The Rio Grande Valley Partnership was the primary host for the official Department of Transportation (TxDOT) unveiling ceremonies in Harlingen, Pharr, and Mercedes. The President and CEO of Rio Grande Valley Chamber of Commerce, Julian Alvarez, described the far-reaching benefits for Texas businesses beyond the Valley.
Alvarez said, “Additionally, this Interstate Highway will also make the trip to south Texas easier for vacationers and Winter Texans. The widening of the road will allow an increase in speed limits. Drivers won’t have to slow down and make stops in towns like Falfurrias, Riviera and Driscoll. They can bypass them on the new overpasses.”
“The new stretches and extensions of the highway will also open up business opportunities for more gasoline stations, motels, hotels and restaurants in new areas along the way,” he said, adding, “This new interstate corridor is a true ‘win-win’ situation for everybody.”
Interested persons with inquiries about the Interstate I-69 project can obtain information by contacting TxDOT Media Relations at [email protected] or calling the Austin, Texas headquarters at (512) 463-8700. TBB