EDINBURG, TEXAS – The City of Edinburg is set to give its backing to a major regional highway project which would see a new east-west corridor connecting I-69 East to I-69 Central.
The project is a joint collaboration between the Texas Department of Transportation, Hidalgo County Regional Mobility Authority and Cameron County Regional Mobility Authority.
“This project is regional significance. It will be great for Edinburg and great for the Rio Grande Valley,” said Edinburg Mayor Richard Molina.
The new 27-mile east-west expressway could be built by widening FM 1925 but nothing has been finalized, said Edinburg City Manager Ron Garza.
“The I-69 Connector is projected to cost $500 million. It was first referred to as FM 1925. But by late spring they (TXDOT) will know the top two or three recommended alignments,” Garza said, at a recent Edinburg City Council meeting.
“It basically connects from I-69 C to I-69 E. They do not know the alignment but by late spring they will start doing public hearings on the various recommendations.”
The city council meeting was called to discuss Edinburg’s priorities for the 87th Legislative Session. These priorities will be ratified at the council’s next meeting. The I-69 Connector project is all but certain to be included, although the city is not pushing for a specific dollar amount from state lawmakers.
“I think this is of the highest regional significance,” Garza said.
Discussing the possible alignment of the route, Garza said: “Monte Cristo has been talked about. Even 107. Even as far south as Trenton. The benefit to the city of Edinburg would be great. We do know if this is completely unfunded at this point but it is something we should support.”
An I-69 Connector would be great for Edinburg for many reasons, Garza said. One of these would be its close to South Texas International Airport. Garza noted that HHRMA’s International Bridge Trade Corridor will connect the bridges of Pharr and Donna will be part of a project that heads north from Donna at I-2 to I-69 Central near the airport. He also referenced HHRMA’s West Loop will start at Madero Bridge in Mission and swing around to FM 490 north of Edinburg.
“They are all very important projects,” Garza said.
In a powerpoint presentation shown to Edinburg city council members, TxDOT described the I-69 Corridor project as a “key parallel corridor to I-2 with importance to mobility projects by TxDOT, CCRMA and HCRMA.”
The slide said TxDOT has “committed supplemental development authority funds for the entire 27-mile corridor as an expressway facility.” It also stated that TxDOT has “committed to funding the development of the schematic design and environmental documents.”
Interviewed after the city council meeting had ended, Mayor Molina said: “We all benefit from this project, the whole Valley. We have an advantage in having Ron as our city manager. He is somebody who has always thought regionally. He can pick up the phone and call any mayor from any of the cities throughout the Valley. He has already worked for most of them through his time at the COG.”
The COG is the Lower Rio Valley Development Council, otherwise known as the Council of Government for Hidalgo, Cameron and Willacy counties.
Molina said the City of Edinburg has airport infrastructure as one of its top priorities for the legislative session.
“All of these mayors become partners to us. We definitely want them bringing their cargo over to our airport. When you look at the Pharr-Reynosa Bridge, the Donna Bridge, the Progreso Bridge, we have talked about the highway that is going to run from Donna all the way directly to 490. That has been in the talks for some time. That is already earmarked as eventually getting funded,” Molina said.
“This plays back into the airport and the infrastructure. We already have DPS out there, we already have Border Patrol, it is an international airport so we are thinking about the future.”
Another reason to back the I-69 Connector project, Molina said, is that it will eventually extend eastwards to the Laguna Madre and connect with South Padre Island’s Second Causeway. He noted that most Valley visitors to SPI come from Hidalgo County.
“The Second Causeway could connect to an east-west corridor all the way to Monte Cristo. That is right close to our airport,” Molina said.
“There are already subdivisions popping up like crazy next to I-69 Central and Monte Cristo. There are a bunch of homes going up. It is only a matter of time before, as more rooftops go up, that we have more commercial development.”
It is as if the developers of these subdivisions know an east-west corridor is on the way, a reporter opined.
“All of these big regional projects benefit the city of Edinburg,” Molina responded.
In his interview with the Rio Grande Guardian, city manager Garza said: “If you look at the structure of the Valley with 83/I-2 being our main east-west corridor, we are growing so much we need that other east-west corridor. The great thing about this corridor, whenever it does come to fruition, is that it is truly a regional project. It is the entire Valley. It is going to influence commerce, trade, it will lead to the second causeway, further east from there. From a regional perspective this is probably at the top of the Valley’s list.”
Editor’s Note: The main image accompanying the above news story shows Edinburg Mayor Richard Molina pointing to a map produced by the Texas Department of Transportation showing the I-69 Corridor project.
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