Community leaders provide input on I-69

CORRIGAN, TX (KTRE) - By Morgan Thomas- email

CORRIGAN, TX (KTRE) - A complete makeover for the Interstate 69 project.

The I-69 project has come a long way since the failed Trans-Texas corridor. Before, it was a toll road running parallel to U.S. 59. The revised plan would upgrade U.S. 59 to an interstate. In part, thanks to residents' input.

"Each county that might be touched or impacted by the interstate is represented along with municipalities," said Edward Pensock, director of the corridor development at TxDOT.

Meetings put TxDOT officials face-to-face with folks directly affected by the corridor. This gives them the opportunity to voice what works and what doesn't work for their towns.

"They're getting input from the communities on what they would like to see and they're using that input. Later, they'll compile all the input for the final decisions," said Lloyd Kerkham, a retired judge in Liberty County. "Now they're going to follow the 59 corridor that's much more desirable for the public and farmers and ranchers."

It's cities like Corrigan where the meetings being held that really show the impact that the I-69 corridor project will have on the communities in its path. With the new plan, cities won't lose economically. Farmers and ranchers won't lose their land. Lufkin Economic Development Director Jim Wehemier is a project committee chair.

"Transportation is key to economic development always has been and always will be," said Wehmeier.

But upgrading U.S. 59 to an interstate won't be easy.

"We have to control the access. We can't have driveways or intersections directly on the main travel lines," said Pensock.

Compared to the old plan, the new one is more in line with the vision of East Texans.

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