PALMVIEW, Texas – In 2021, over 164 million tons of freight moved along US 83 between Laredo and the Rio Grande Valley.
That number is forecasted to increase nearly 400%, to well over 790 million tons by 2050.
That is according a video produced by the Texas Department of Transportation to promote a planning study of US 83 between Palmview, in the Valley, to the vicinity of Mangana-Hein Road in south Laredo. The study also takes in State Loop 20 to its intersection with US 59 in east Laredo.
The study was recommended in the 2021 Texas-Mexico Border Transportation Master Plan.
TxDOT is inviting local residents to review a Corridor Development Plan that recommends short-, mid, and long-term transportation improvements along the study corridor.
The short informational video provides an overview of the US 83 Regional Corridor Study and the transportation needs addressed in the study.
“The purpose of the study, which began in Spring 2022, is to better understand the study corridor’s transportation operational and safety characteristics and needs and determine what types of improvements would enhance corridor safety, mobility, rural connectivity, and hurricane evacuation,” TxDOT said.
“This corridor provides a vital connection between the Rio Grande Valley and Laredo in south Texas, serving many small rural communities and the Texas-Mexico border region.”
TxDOT added: “As TxDOT moves towards ‘Ending the Streak’ of deaths on Texas highways, this study plays an important role in addressing safety concerns for the Rio Grande Valley and the Laredo area.”
Commentary from video
Here is the commentary from the video:
Hello, welcome to the US 83 regional corridor study informational video. This video was created by the Texas Department of Transportation, or TxDOT, to provide an overview of the US 83 Regional Corridor Study and address the transportation needs that will enhance travel along this key highway corridor.
The video will also provide detailed recommendations for short-, mid-, and long-term transportation improvement projects.
As part of the 2021 Texas Mexico Border Transportation Master Plan, TxDOT is conducting a planning study on US 83 from Interstate 2, west of Palmview to Mangana Hein Road in south Laredo and from state Loop 20 to US 59 in east Laredo. The purpose of the study is to better understand the transportation system and determine what actions are needed to improve the system.
Additionally, Congress has authorized US 59 to be upgraded to interstate standards and will be re-designated as I-69 West upon completion.
Throughout this study, TxDOT evaluated the corridor in an effort to enhance safety, mobility, connectivity, border accessibility and emergency evacuation.
TxDOT has prepared a Corridor Development Plan that includes a list of recommendations and specific short-, mid-, and long-term transportation improvement projects.
Safety continues to be a top priority for TxDOT. According to TXDOT’s crash record information system data, more than 6,300 crashes occurred along the study corridor between 2015 and 2021. Of which 93% occurred inside urban areas in Starr and Webb counties.
However, crashes in rural areas are also a concern. Predominant crash types in these rural areas include fixed object and animal collisions on roadway segments, angles and rear end crashes at intersections, as well as high-speed chases.
According to the predictive safety analysis performed in accordance with the Texas A&M Transportation Institute’s roadway safety design workbook, a 24% increase in total crashes along this corridor is forecasted to occur by 2050.
Safety solutions were modeled by TxDOT to evaluate their effectiveness on reducing crash frequency and establish improvement priorities and assess future safety conditions.
Texas Highway Trunk System
A trustworthy and reliable roadway network is essential to all motorists and to the efficient movement of people goods and services. The Texas Highway Trunk System is intended to provide this network. The system consists of principal roadway connectors to be upgraded to four-lane divided highways for the purpose of enhancing mobility between Texas cities with populations greater than 20,000 and major points of entry, including Texas ports. The US 83 corridor between Palmview and Laredo is part of the Texas Highway Trunk System.
In addition, US 83 and State Loop 20 provide important interstate connectivity with I-2, I-69E, I-69C, I-69W, I-35 and the Ports to Plains corridor interstate system extending northwest from Laredo to New Mexico and Oklahoma.
Between Laredo and the Rio Grande Valley, this corridor on Interstate 2 serves 12 international border crossings between Texas and Mexico. These facilitate the movement of privately owned vehicles, freight and pedestrians. Four-lane divided highway upgrades and access-controlled relief routes to become a part of the Texas Highway Trunk System, along with improvements that meet interstate standards, were modeled and evaluated to assess their effectiveness in enhancing safety and mobility in and between the Rio Grande Valley and Laredo.
In addition to TXDOT’s focus on safety, local and regional mobility is also a priority. Currently, mobility along the corridor is impeded by numerous traffic bottlenecks in urban areas along the corridor due to reduced speed limits, signalized and non-signalized intersections, and school zones. These bottlenecks negatively impact the quality of life, increase travel time and interfere with mobility for local residents.
Additionally, bottlenecks hinder first responders, freight movement, border crossing connectivity and emergency evacuation. The Corridor Study will seek to improve the mobility between the Rio Grande Valley and Laredo.
Freight movement is also an important consideration for the study. The state’s Freight Mobility Plan, Texas Delivers 2050, identifies US 83 as a higher tonnage, critical corridor serving freight transportation needs and facilitating the seamless delivery of commodities and products on the Texas Multimodal Freight Network.
In 2021, over 164 million tons of freight moved along the study corridor. And that number is forecasted to increase nearly 400%, to well over 790 million tons by 2050.
This study intends to identify improvements to enhance corridor-wide, highway system freight mobility and travel time reliability. These two key factors are used to assess the effectiveness of the improvements being studied to ensure that the system provides efficient movement of freight throughout South Texas and between Texas and Mexico.
World Trade Bridge
In Laredo, the World Trade Bridge connecting to I-35 has considerable freight traffic as the No. 1 inland port in the United States. To relieve congestion at the World Trade Bridge, a new border crossing, Laredo Bridge 5, is being planned by a private company to connect with the future Laredo Outer Loop. The Laredo Outer Loop would be a multi-lane, high speed freeway providing connectivity between south Laredo, I-35, and points north. The trunk system improvements along with connectivity to the planned Laredo Bridge 5 have been evaluated to assess improvements to freight travel time reliability.
Hurricane Evacuation Route
Additionally, US 83 is currently a designated hurricane evacuation route and facilitates travel away from the Gulf of Mexico during tropical storms. US 83 is the only major US highway in the border region that is a hurricane evacuation route and does not have a Border Patrol inspection station where motorists would be required to stop by law enforcement. If the recommended improvements to US 83 resulting from this study are ultimately implemented, US 83 would serve as a critical, free-flow hurricane evacuation route for over 1.3 million people in the Rio Grande Valley.
Addressing the needs
So, how do we address all of these needs? This Regional Corridor Study has identified short-, mid- and long-term transportation improvements.
Short-term improvements are considered improvements that can be implemented within the next five years. Examples of short-term improvements can be low-cost safety solutions, such as improved pavement striping, intersection signage, and extending left turn lanes within the median.
Moreover, mid-term improvements can be implemented within the next five to ten years and include conversion of existing two-lane roadways to four-lane divided highways as part of the Texas Highway Trunk System.
And lastly, long-term improvements are improvements that may require over ten years to complete. Examples of long-term improvements include access controlled relief routes. Relief routes are recommended to serve Sullivan City, Rio Grande City, Roma, Zapata and San Ignacio. Ultimately, these long-term improvements will benefit both travelers and freight flow.
For a full list of recommended solutions, please see the Corridor Development Plan on the project website.
The US 83 Regional Corridor Study analyzed various transportation needs and recommends transportation improvements to enhance safety and mobility and support economic development in the region.
For additional project information, please visit www.txdot.gov, keyword US 83 Regional Corridor Study. If you have questions about the study, please reach out to Steve Linhart, TXDOT project development manager. We appreciate your interest in the US 83 Regional Corridor Study and improving transportation in this key region of Texas.
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