Local officials from Harrison County and other Texas communities up and down the proposed Interstate 69 corridor met with federal officials recently to promote the highway project and lobby for funding.
Virtual meetings were held with the Washington offices of Texas senators and representatives, the Alliance for I-69 said in a press release. It was the second time the group’s annual “DC Fly-In” was held virtually because of COVID-19.
During the meetings, Texas officials pressed for “increased overall federal investment in highway construction, particularly additional funding for development of projects under the National Highway Freight Program and ensuring that I-69 is eligible for that funding,” the Alliance for I-69 said.
Interstate 69 will travel from the Texas-Mexico border north to Michigan, and is being developed through incremental upgrades to existing highways currently. In East Texas, the I-69 corridor uses U.S. 59 going through both Carthage and Marshall up to Texarkana.
“I-69 is important to us locally here in Harrison County because it will relieve some congestion through Marshall and also open up more opportunities for development along the new route,” Harrison County Judge Chad Sims said. “Many leaders from South Texas up through Northeast Texas have been working to get this done but its impact and importance stretches much further.”
Local leaders applauded provisions in a U.S. House bill that would reauthorize federal highway and transportation programs to make all of the I-69 corridor in Texas eligible for funding.
“We want to thank the members of the House who were successful in getting these important changes into the House bill,” Polk County Judge Sydney Murphy, chairman of the Alliance for I-69 Texas, said. “Our senators have signaled their support and we have asked them to make a strong push to get the same language in the Senate version of the highway reauthorization bill.”
The alliance said it also wants federal officials to make it easier for the Texas Department of Transportation to add completed highway segments to the Interstate Highway System and to put up interstate signs — something they say will spur economic growth and opportunity.
“The Alliance will continue to work with our representatives in Washington to speed up the process of building I-69. At the same time we are grateful for the commitment the Texas Transportation Commission has made to funding dozens of individual I-69 projects over the coming years,” Judge Murphy said.