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The Texas Department Transportation’s 10-year Unified Transportation Program, the state’s roadmap for building current and future projects, has surpassed $100 billion for the first time in history.

This impressive amount is reflective of the booming Texas economy and rapid population growth. Clearly, more people are moving to Texas to live and do business. Because of that, my Texas Transportation Commission colleagues and I made history last month with the approval of the record amount.

The commission, under the direction of Gov. Greg Abbott, continues to dedicate an unprecedented level of funding that will continue to improve transportation safety, address congestion and rural connectivity, and maintain roadways for Texas drivers.

As a Mission resident, I am grateful to Gov. Abbott for his investment in the border region and for my appointment to represent this area on the Texas Transportation Commission. We have not had a representative from the Rio Grande Valley on the commission since 1995.

This appointment is one that I take very seriously. I have challenged myself to visit all 25 TxDOT districts in my first 12 months on the commission to meet with employees and learn what challenges they face, and what solutions they’ve created that may be helpful statewide. I’ve also been meeting with community leaders at all levels to listen to their priorities.

I believe that transportation is key to economic development, and the commission is committed to attracting and supporting businesses with investments in infrastructure throughout Texas.

Just one year ago, TxDOT set a previous record with the approval of an $85 billion UTP. And a decade ago, the UTP value stood at about $34.3 billion. These are more than just dollar amounts. These figures represent real improvements to the quality of life for all Texans.

In the TxDOT Pharr District alone $3.6 billion in projects are planned in the next 10 years. That’s a significant increase from the $2.5 billion in the 2023 UTP.

In this region, as the population continues to boom so does the need for regional projects that provide alternatives for travel on Interstate 2 (U.S. Highway 83) to alleviate congestion.

Just this past June, Gov. Abbott called upon the Texas Transportation Commission to allocate $150 million in the Unified Transportation Program to support the construction of the International Bridge Trade Corridor project in the Rio Grande Valley. The IBTC is a proposed non-tolled, four-lane divided roadway that would provide direct interstate access for several international ports of entry and expedite the movement of goods and freight.

East bound lane rises above on the I-69C and I-2 interchange on Friday, May 26, 2023, in Pharr. (Joel Martinez | [email protected])

Among some of the additional priority projects for the TxDOT Pharr district are the proposed State Hwy. 32 East Loop in Cameron County, interstate upgrades to I-69E (U.S. 77) in Kenedy County, interstate upgrades to I-69C (U.S. 281) in Hidalgo County, and the construction of State Hwy. 68 in Hidalgo County and State Loop 195 in Starr County.

The proposed SH 32 East Loop project would connect the Port of Brownsville to the Veterans International Bridge. This project would take overweight and oversize trucks out of downtown Brownsville and away from schools and businesses, improving mobility for commercial vehicle operators and enhancing safety for the local community.

For the I-69E (U.S. 77) upgrades, TxDOT started building the interstate upgrade process from south to north and this is a continuation of those efforts. TxDOT also recently completed an I-69E (U.S. 77) upgrade just north of Raymondville to the Kenedy/Willacy County line and this is a continuation of that work.

Interstate upgrades to I-69C (U.S. 281) in Hidalgo County are also being developed from just north of State Hwy. 186 to the Hidalgo-Brooks county line.

The development of SH 68 would provide a new north and south alternative to I-69C and I-69E and an alternate hurricane evacuation route.

And, in Starr County, State Loop 195 will serve as a U.S. 83 relief route from Roma to Rio Grande City. The project would be built out in three segments. The first segment, from FM 755 to FM 3167, was approved in last year’s UTP.

The time to act and plan for the future is now. TxDOT and the Texas Transportation Commission take seriously our mission of “Connecting You With Texas.”

Alejandro “Alex” Meade is a Mission resident and member of the Texas Transportation Commission.

Alejandro “Alex” Meade