City officials discuss I-69 project, transportation plans

Jessica  Rodrigo By Jessica Rodrigo

July 8, 2014 at 2:08 a.m.

There's only one way to go down frontage roads from now on.

At the Metropolitan Planning Organization's policy advisory committee meeting Tuesday afternoon, city officials and members of the community met to discuss plans about the Interstate 69 construction project, which calls for one-way frontage roads in a 3.4-mile section of U.S. Highway 59 in Victoria that will be converted into the new interstate.

The construction of the frontage road in Victoria is estimated to cost $15.75 million, funded as part of the $2.9 billion in Proposition 14 bonds issued in 2008 to build the new interstate.

Many business owners in that area expressed their concern Tuesday about the plan for one-way frontage roads.

Ted Houghton, chairman of the Texas Transportation Commission, sent a letter in May to Victoria County Judge Don Pozzi and the policy advisory committee explaining the elimination of two-way frontage roads.

"At the end of the day, safety trumps everything," City Councilman Tom Halepaska said.

Other options suggested to the committee included the use of back roads, which may go through residential areas, to reach businesses that cannot be accessed on a one-way frontage road. Another suggestion is an additional interchange that would fit into the current right of way, said Paul Frerich, TxDOT Yoakum District engineer. He delivered the explanation of the one-way frontage roads at the meeting.

"We will be looking in the future to prioritize projects like this," he said.

The city is continuing to search for interim solutions to help the businesses that will be affected by the project.

Jeff Kyrish, general manager of Longhorn International Trucks, which is part of Gulf International, praised the committee for its search of other options during the public comment portion of the meeting.

He also presented the committee with a petition with 27 signatures from business owners who oppose the decision to turn the frontage roads into one-way traffic.

"It's tough to rebound from this right now," he said. "I don't know what we can do to make this work."

He said his business has outlets that give him access to back roads but is concerned with the safety of the children who play in the residential area nearby.

"There needs to be another option," Kyrish said to the committee.

Pozzi suggested the committee continue to explore solutions that won't stifle the businesses that operate off the U.S. 59 frontage roads.

However, he stood firmly by the decision to make all frontage roads one-way traffic.

"It is now the policy to eliminate all two-way frontage roads," Pozzi said.

Halepaska said he understands the businesses have money on the line as the project waits for funding but said the most they can do is write to the Legislature and lobby.

"They can try to turn it around, and they can ask if they can loosen some of the funding for these projects," he said. "We only do what they give us money to do."



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