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The Texas Department of Transportation is seeking public input on hundreds of proposed projects in the draft 2024 Unified Transportation Plan (UTP), TxDOT’s statewide 10-year transportation plan.
Included in the draft plan are hundreds of millions of dollars worth of proposed projects for Cameron and Hidalgo counties. The complete draft 2024 UTP totals about $100 billion — $15 billion more in projects than the 2023 UTP. The increase is the result of Proposition 1 passed during the 2015 legislative session, which dedicated more oil-and-gas severance fees to highway improvements, according to TxDOT.
A virtual public hearing is scheduled for July 25. The 2024 UTP public comment period ends Aug. 7.
Projects included in the current draft UTP fall into the categories of safety, congestion mitigation and connectivity, roadway preservation, public transportation, maritime, rail, freight and international trade, and bicycle and pedestrian connectivity. In all, the document contains 36 proposed projects in Cameron and Hidalgo counties.
The biggest ticket item in Cameron County involves Brownsville’s East Loop Project, a project decades in the making that will connect the Port of Brownsville with Veterans International Bridge via the South Port Connector at SH 4 and what is now East University Boulevard at I-69E just north of Veterans Bridge. TxDOT expects the project to go out for bid sometime between fiscal year (FY) 2023 and FY 2026, while the construction cost is estimated at approximately $113.4 billion, according to the draft UTP.
Other projects proposed for Brownsville include widening SH 48 from SH 4 to FM 511 at an estimated cost of $31.4 million, widening FM 1732 from US 281 to I-69E ($25.2 million), widening FM 3248 from US 281 to FM 1847 ($18 million), and widening US 281 from near FM 1577 to FM 1421 ($14 million). The projects are expected to go out for bid in the FY 2027-2032 range except for the US 281 widening project, expected to go out for bid FY 2023-2026.
Harlingen projects in the draft UTP include relocating FM 509 from FM 508 to FM 1599 at an estimated cost of $7.3 million. Other projects proposed for Harlingen involve I-69E ramps, safety and pedestrian projects, and widening South 77 Sunshine Strip from Commerce Street to the Arroyo Colorado bridge, with a total estimated cost of approximately $6.2 million. All are expected to go out for bid FY 2023-2026 except for the South 77 project, which TxDOT said should go out of bid FY 2027-2032.
For Santa Rosa, widening of SH 107 from the Hidalgo-Cameron county line to Louisiana Road has been proposed at an estimated cost of $15.4 million, going to bid FY 2027-2032. San Benito may be in line for new I-69E frontage roads, estimated to cost approximately $19.9 million and go out to bid FY 2027-2032, as well as widening of US 281 from FM 732 to a half-mile west of FM 1577. That project is estimated at $13.4 million and would go to bid FY 2023-2026, according to TxDOT.
Hidalgo County’s 24 proposed projects include the relocation of SH 68 in Donna from US 83 to FM 1825, estimated to cost $209.7 million and go to bid FY 2023-2026, and the widening of FM 1013 in Edcouch from Mile 12 Road to SH 107. The project would go out to bid FY 2027-2032 and cost roughly $36 million.
Two separate proposed projects to widen FM 1925 in Edinburg would total an estimated $60.5 million, the first going out to bid FY 2023-2026 and the second FY 2027-2032. US 281 in Edinburg may be upgraded at an estimated cost of $146 million, going to bid FY 2023-2026, while four separate projects to upgrade US 281 in Hidalgo County would go to bid in FY 2023-2026 or FY 2027-2032 and together cost an estimated to $277 million.
A $137.6 million project involves the International Bridge Trade Corridor and would go out for bid FY 2023-2026, according to the draft UTP. Included for McAllen are two separate projects to widen FM 2220 with a combined estimated cost of $41.1 million, one going to bid FY 2023-2026 and the other FY 2027-2032.
Proposed for Pharr itself is a project to widen FM 3362 from Business 83 south to SH 495. The project has an estimated cost of $10.3 million and would go out to bid FY 2027-2032.
For more details on projects contained in TxDOT’s draft 2024 UTP, public hearings and the process of submitting comments in English or Spanish, go to www.txdot.gov/projects/planning/utp/utp-public-involvement.html.
TxDOT Executive Director Marc Williams called the UTP “TxDOT’s road map to developing projects across the state” and made a plea for members of the public to take part in the process, noting that public comments and feedback are an important part of developing the plan.
“It’s important to work with our transportation partners and hear from the public to guide transportation improvements that address congestion and enhance safety,” he said.