BROWNSVILLE, Texas – A top transportation official in the Rio Grande Valley has asked state lawmakers to help get I-69 East upgraded to full interstate standard all the way from Brownsville to Corpus Christi.
Pete Sepulveda, executive director of Cameron County Regional Mobility Authority, was asked what his wish list would be from the state legislature during a webinar hosted by state Rep. Terry Canales, chair of the Texas House Committee on Transportation.
“As it pertains to the trade landscape in Brownsville, if you could request one thing from the Texas Legislature, what would it be? What could we do to help you?” Canales asked Sepulveda.
Sepulveda responded: “I believe that the Rio Grande Valley is the largest metropolitan area without an interstate system. Even though you have heard all the good things from Eddie that is happening at the port, all the good things that are happening at the city of Brownsville, with LNG, with SpaceX, in spite of the fact that we do not have an interstate system to Cameron County, to the city of Brownsville, we have gotten all that,” Sepulveda said.
The “Eddie” Sepulveda referring to is Eduardo “Eddie” Campirano, port director for Brownsville Navigation District. Campirano gave a presentation about the Port of Brownsville on the Canales webinar before Sepulveda spoke. Also on the show were three state lawmakers from Cameron County: Sen. Eddie Lucio, Jr., and Reps. Eddie Lucio, III, and Alex Dominguez.
Sepulveda said he had two requests of the state legislature.
“Here is the request: one: we have got Interstate I69 going from the Rancho Viejo area to the entrance of the Port of Brownsville. We have got one gap remaining. I have got it fully funded from the RGV MPO. All we need is assistance from TXDOT to accelerate the project.”
The “RGV MPO” Sepulveda referred to is the Rio Grande Valley Metropolitan Planning Organization.
Sepulveda then explained his second request.
“The second one, there is one project between Corpus and Brownsville that is not part of the TxDOT 2021 UTP plan. The UTP plan is a ten year funding plan that Texas utilizes to fund projects. We are one project away in the King Ranch area from having an interstate highway coming in to Cameron County and Brownsville,” Sepulveda said.
“We will have the entire 125 miles from Corpus to Brownsville, if we get that one project funded, $140 million. Chairman, if you can work with our delegation to get that project in the 2022 UTP we will be done as far as funding the project and we will have an interstate highway system into the Rio Grande Valley. That would make a huge difference. And we need 281 to get all of their projects funded.”
UTP stands for the Unified Transportation Plan.
Sepulveda has worked on transportation issues in Cameron County for 23 years. Before that he worked in Hidalgo County, including a stint at the City of Pharr. He pointed out that he worked on getting State Highway 281 upgraded to interstate standards for many years, working alongside consultant Randy DeLay.
Parts of 281 have been turned into I-69 Central but the entire stretch from Edinburg to George West has not been fully upgraded to interstate standard. Likewise with State Highway 77 between Brownsville and Corpus Christi. Parts of it are of interstate standard under the I-69 East signage. But, as Sepulveda pointed out, one stretch in the King Ranch area has not been upgraded.
Sepulveda compared I-69 East and I-69 Central to I-35 as it approaches the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex.
“They are similar to what you have in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, where you have I-35 going to Dallas and I-35 going to Fort Worth. We need 281 to be the interstate highway going into Hidalgo County and we need US 77 to be an interstate corridor coming into Cameron County. That is the ask. I know you can do it,” Sepulveda told Canales.
Editor’s Note: The main image accompanying the above news story shows Pete Sepulveda, executive director of Cameron County Regional Mobility Authority.
Editor’s Note: The above news story is the first in a four-part series based on a webinar on transportation policy hosted by state Rep. Terry Canales, chair of the House Committee on Transportation. Part Two, featuring Canales, will be posted later this week.
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