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Public meeting to focus on Interstate 69 future

By DAVID TEWES
May 16, 2010 at 12:16 a.m.


IF YOU GO

WHAT: Interstate 69 Corridor Segment Committee Three meeting.

WHERE: Room 204 at the 700 Main Center.

WHEN: 1-4 p.m. Monday.

The future of Interstate 69 through the Crossroads will be discussed in a meeting open to the public Monday.

But a Texas Department of Transportation engineer said he doesn't expect U.S. Highways 59 or 77 will be developed into an interstate anytime soon.

That decision will be based on such factors as congestion and funding.

"Right now, there is no method to actually fund an I-69, especially through areas like ours where U.S. 59 is serving the purpose," said Randy Bena, area engineer for the state. "We don't have congestion here."

But he said officials need to make plans for the entire route now so they are prepared to make the upgrades when they are needed. The Houston area would be a more likely candidate for U.S. 59 to be developed into an interstate before Victoria because of the congestion.

"So many things would have to drastically change for us to see that," he said. "I'm not sure they would change that quickly."

State officials from Austin will make a presentation on the proposed interstate and seek input from local officials on such things as access points and routes. That might involve everything from the port of Victoria to retail centers.

While U.S. Highways 59 and 77 are four-lane, divided highways, that's not the same as having an interstate.

"An interstate is completely access-controlled," Bena said. "We do not have a controlled-access facility."

The two highways currently offer access to county roads and even driveways. One of the topics of discussion might be how to provide access to those points if an interstate is built.

There is no proposed route yet, although the interstate could roughly follow U.S. Highway 59 from St. Louis, Mo., to Victoria. South of Victoria it could include U.S. Highway 77 to the Rio Grande Valley, U.S. Highway 59 to Laredo or both.

"Although this meeting is for the members of the corridor segment committee, the public is still welcome to come and observe the meeting, hear comments and ask questions," Bena said. "But really, the intent is to get local officials together who know more about their local areas."

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