LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - County Judge Wes Suiter and the Angelina County Commissioners were in agreement Tuesday morning to make the future of Interstate 69 a priority.
"The transportation committee will be meeting later this month," Suiter said. "They have prop 7 funding and federal funding so they are going to prioritize projects across the state. We want to make sure that projects we have here in Angelina, Nacogdoches and Polk Counties are put at the forefront."
In their resolution, Suiter and the commissioners pointed out several reason why the relief route that will head east of Diboll is needed. The main two concerns they have is for day to day traffic as well as emergency traffic in case of a hurricane evacuation route.
Suiter said it is obvious that a relief route is needed if you monitor Highway 59 on any given evening.
"You see in town that sometimes the first street light is backed up all the way past the Crown Colony entrance," Suiter said. "Corrigan has one red light. Diboll has three. That's a tremendous traffic back up especially on Thursday, Friday and Saturday evening when the majority of heavy truck traffic comes through."
In 2014, after several meetings, the committee that is researching the topic determine a relief route to the east of Diboll.
"We have appraisers that are on the ground now looking at right of way," Suiter said. "We have acquired a lot of it right now. We are hoping to get the rest by 2019. We are hoping the committee will get us the funding so we can have the project going by 2019. It has already been environmentally cleared."
Suiter said the project could be at least two years but could go as long as four years. The relief of traffic would not just be for daily traffic but could also help in relief efforts.
"The highway has been designated an evacuation zone, it will expedite the evacuation of those from the Texas coast through Angelina County and further north," Suiter said.
Suiter could not give any time frame for when the county would be made aware of any funding.