Interstate 69 Expected to Revive ArkLaTex Economy
Interstate Will Connect Mexico to Canada
A project as big as Interstate 69 costs money, and lots of it and in todays economy, we all know that's hard to come by. In Texas alone, TxDOT has dedicated $637 Million to the I-69 project to further it's development. We spoke with officials in Austin Texas, at I69 day at the state capital about what they're doing to ensure the I69 dream becomes a reality for the ArkLaTex. Robert Nichols, Texas State Senator said, "If you draw a line for where truck traffic wants to carry goods to bring them through the state, it is the northeast and the midwest and the straightest most economical route is along the route of I-69." That's why Senator Nichols and other leaders in our area say i-69 is a project that must be completed... Soon.
Phil Wilson is the Executive Director for TxDOT, he said, "As this road has more and more miles added to interstate standard, it'll drive more and more jobs to East Texas and Northeast Texas. The value involved with that means more transportation coverage moving, means more products being sold and more people being employed." Not only will I-69 drive economic growth in East Texas and all throughout the ArkLaTex, the interstate will also address traffic issues in Texas.
Texans aren't the only ones excited about the new path to a brighter economic future... I-69 is also slated to cross the red river near the Port of Shreveport. Kent Rogers with NLCOG said, "Shreveport-Bossier becomes the smallest urban area in the country with 3 intersecting cross continental interstate highways. With the highways in place, with the work that Kansas City railroad is doing, with up railroad, with the growth of the port. We become the shipping mecca you could say." Since the interstate crosses the United States from the ArkLaTex, into Tennessee, Indiana and Michigan.. the project is going to have to be funded by the federal government. But with historic deficits and a weak economy, Interstate 69's progress has been dragged out for at least 10 years, and officials say it could take another 20 if they don't get the money they need soon. Ed Smith is the Mayor of Marshall, Texas. He said, "Washington's talking about infrastructure funding for a stimulus to the economy so if that's the case and they're going to allocate funds from that source, regardless of your political views, if they do that, then I think I-69 will be a high priority for them."
In the meantime, supporters of I-69 are looking for alternative ways to sustain the project and highway. They're considering using existing highways and upgrading them to interstate standards, dubbing the roadway Interstate 69. Another option is to support the highway with tolls. "Particularly if we limit certain lanes to truck traffic and toll the truck traffic and maybe don't toll the passenger lanes," Smith said. So they'll continue to flesh out ideas to make sure I-69 becomes a reality because officials say we need it.