Wednesday, June 11, 2008

I-69 to Follow Existing Roads per Public Input

As a follow-up to the CTRA & WilcoRA Sponsored Transportation Summit and to show that TxDOT is responding to input received from the public, TxDOT's Coby Chase provided CTRA with the following press release which was embargoed until 10:00 AM this morning.

Texas Department of Transportation news

125 E. 11th Street
Austin, Texas 78701-2483
(512) 463-8588 FAX (512) 463-9896

TxDOT’s five goals: reduce congestion ▪ enhance safety ▪ expand economic opportunity
▪ improve air quality ▪ increase the value of transportation assets.

TxDOT Recommends Narrowing Study Area for Texas Portion of I-69 Citing Public Recommendation, Project Would Follow Existing Roads

AUSTIN – The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) announced today that it will recommend that the I-69/Trans-Texas Corridor (TTC) Project be developed using existing highway facilities wherever possible. If additional travel lanes are added to existing highways, only the new lanes would have tolls.

"After a dozen town hall meetings, nearly 50 public hearings, and countless one-on-one conversations, it is clear to us that Texans want us to use existing roadways to start building the Texas portion of Interstate 69," said Texas Transportation Commissioner Ted Houghton.

"TxDOT's recommendation would effectively shrink our environmental study down to roads such as U.S. Highways 77 and 281 in South Texas, State Highway 44 and U.S. Highway 59 along the Coastal Bend and U.S. Highways 84 and 59 in East Texas. We are dropping consideration
of new corridors that would run west of Houston in addition to other proposals for new highway footprint in other parts of the state."

TxDOT Executive Director Amadeo Saenz, in a letter to the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), wrote "The preliminary basis for this decision centers on the review of nearly 28,000 public comments made on the Tier One DEIS (Draft Environmental Impact statement). The overwhelming sentiment of these comments focused on the need to improve the existing transportation network" rather than building a new corridor for the project.

TxDOT's stated intention has been to focus on making needed improvements to existing and planned transportation facilities within the I-69/TTC study area. Such upgrades may fully satisfy the project's need to improve the international, interstate, and intrastate movement of people and goods for many decades.

In May, the Texas Transportation Commission adopted guiding principles and policies that will govern the development, construction and operation of toll road projects on the state highway system and the Trans-Texas Corridor. In addition to reaffirming that only new lanes added to an existing highway will be tolled and that there will be no reduction in the number of non-tolled lanes, the Commission stated that wherever possible, existing right-of-way would be considered for the development of new projects.

TxDOT Recommends Narrowing Study Area for Texas Portion of I-69

"The Commission made it clear that they wanted their newly-adopted principles applied to the development of important projects like I-69 and a parallel corridor to I-35," said Saenz. "We are closer than ever to realizing the promise and the potential of I-69, and we will move forward with this important Transportation Commission policy in the front of our minds."

Saenz said that TxDOT would continue to talk to the public about I-69/TTC, and he encouraged Texans to ask questions and share their ideas at the department's "Keep Texas Moving" website ( He noted that the recently-named I-69 Corridor Advisory Committee will help guide TxDOT's work on the project. Saenz said he looked forward to the appointment of Segment Advisory Committees comprised of local leaders who will help further develop I-69/TTC.

"We also want to keep working with our Congressional delegation and the Texas Legislature," added Transportation Commissioner Houghton. "Legislative leadership, public involvement and local commitment will all be essential if we are going build this long-awaited highway."

TxDOT is preparing its report for FHWA following completion of the public involvement process for the environmental review of I-69/TTC. If today's recommendation is approved by FHWA, plans for a separate new corridor would be dropped from future environmental reviews, and the existing infrastructure would serve as the study area for future environmental review.

TxDOT is expected to submit its Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) for public review prior to federal approval late in 2008 or early in 2009. FHWA approval of the FEIS does not authorize property acquisition or construction.

In the future, the northern and southern portions of I-69/TTC could be linked in the Houston area. Houston's connection to I-69/TTC, including access to the Port of Houston, will be determined in coordination with elected leaders and transportation planners in the area.

A copy of Saenz's letter to FHWA and a new map reflecting TxDOT's recommendation are available on the Internet at

The Texas Department of Transportation - The Texas Department of Transportation is responsible for maintaining nearly 80,000 miles of road and for supporting aviation, rail and public transportation across the state. TxDOT and its 15,000 employees strive to empower local leaders to solve local transportation problems, and to use new financial tools, including tolling and public-private partnerships, to reduce congestion and pave the way for future economic growth while enhancing safety, improving air quality and increasing the value of the state's transportation assets. Find out more at

For more Information call TxDOT's Government & Public Affairs Division at (512) 463-8588.

End PR

Mr. Chase provided a map, which I could not uploaded but which will be available at at Below is a summary of TxDOT's I-69/TTC recommendations.

I-69/TTC Recommendation
Texas Department of Transportation
June 2008

TxDOT is recommending I-69/TTC use the existing highways in response to public input.

February - March 2008: 47 public hearings held along the study corridor from northeast Texas to the southern end of the state.

Some 12,000 Texans attended.

Approximately 28,000 comments were received.

Initial review of these comments has been completed.

The new location corridors proposed and presented during the public hearings earlier this year are no longer under consideration.

The existing highways along the study corridor include US 59, US 77, US 84, US 281 and SH 44.

TxDOT will now complete a detailed review of the comments, prepare the final environmental impact statement and seek Federal Highway Administration approval of this recommendation. Once approved, individual segments of the corridor could be upgraded.

As needs are identified, TxDOT will conduct more detailed studies and work with local officials to upgrade that segment to meet those needs.

I-69/TTC study area is approximately 650 miles stretching from far south Texas to northeast Texas. There is no authorization to purchase property or begin construction on this corridor.

“We asked Texans to become more involved in the decision-making process, and they did not let us down. We listened as they voiced their concerns and issues about I-69/TTC. And, we also agree that along this corridor, improvements can be made to the existing facilities to keep Texas moving.” - Amadeo Saenz, Executive Director, Texas Department of Transportation


Anonymous said...

Does this mean that TXDoT will promote converting some existing highways to tollways?

Freedom Ain't Free said...

That is not the right question to ask. The question is will TxDOT convert existing highway capacity to tolled capacity? The answer is no. The number of "free" lanes will not be reduced. Added capacity along various existing alignments of, say the TTC, will be tolled but existing capacity (the number of "free" lanes) will not be reduced.

Source of this idea is this quote:

"Only new lanes added to an existing highway will be tolled, and there will be no reduction in the number of non-tolled lanes that exist today." -Texas Transportation Commission (see Travis Monitor Post on Thursday, May 29, 2008, titled "Toll Road Guiding Principles - A Positive Step for TxDOT")