Officials Say Highway Designation Will Boost Economic Development In South Texas

More Interstate 69 signs are going up in Texas. The latest highways to get the designation are in the fast-growing Rio Grande Valley. Local leaders say the new interstate route is crucial to the region's economic future.

The Valley is now home to about a million people, and there are a couple of big development projects in the works. 

Plans call for a commercial spaceport near Brownsville. Also the University of Texas is creating a new medical school. 

But when it comes to moving goods and people, local leaders were faced with a big problem. 

“We were one of the areas in the country that didn’t have a major interstate going through. We had no interstate. There was nothing south of I-10.”

That’s Julian Alvarez with the Rio Grande Valley Partnership. It’s an organization that promotes economic growth in the region. 

Alvarez is applauding the new I-69 designation on two existing highways in the Valley. 

Signs have gone up on a 53-mile stretch of US 77 near the U.S./Mexico border. There are also signs on a 14-mile section of U.S. 281 from ED-din-berg to Pharr. 

“You know when folks are looking at bringing in industry to south Texas, that’s one of the first things they ask, is there a major interstate that goes through our ports of entry.”

The long-term plan for I-69 is to create an interstate highway through the central part of the country that links the Canadian and Mexican borders. 

Here in the Houston area, drivers are seeing the I-69 shields along sections of U.S. 59. The newest signs are going up along a 28-mile segment from I-610 west to Rosenberg. 

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Gail Delaughter

Gail Delaughter

Transportation Reporter

From early-morning interviews with commuters to walks through muddy construction sites, Gail covers all aspects of getting around Houston. That includes walking, driving, cycling, taking the bus, and occasionally flying. Before she became transportation reporter in 2011, Gail hosted weekend programs for Houston Public Media. She's also covered courts in...

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