Draft 10-year highway plan sees $900 million for Lower Valley

Many highway/expressway upgrades and construction have also been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic which has caused a lack of funding for such projects. (Maricela Rodriguez/Valley Morning Star)

HARLINGEN — The 2021 draft proposal for TxDOT highway projects earmarks some $900 million for roadway construction over the next 10 years, Cameron County officials announced Tuesday.

The Unified Transportation Plan is a 10-year guide to highways which covers construction, development and project selection.

County officials and the Cameron County Regional Mobility Authority announced the following projects are included in the UTP draft for 2021:

– East Loop Project ($96.6 million): This project will create a corridor for trucks traveling from Mexico and Veterans International Bridge at Los Tomates to the Port of Brownsville and will reduce congestion on I-69E and State Highway 48, as well as reduce the time of travel on all roadways in the corridor.

– U.S. 77 projects ($540 million): This major construction effort will include Cameron, Willacy, Kenedy and Kleberg counties, including the Riviera Relief Route.

– I-37/U.S. 77 Improvement Project ($127 million).

– FM 1732/I-69E to Military Highway ($22.5 million). This is a four-lane expansion project.

– FM 509 extension to Outer Parkway Project ($7.5 million).

“ Thanks to Chairman (J. Bruce) Bugg, the Texas Transportation Commission, administration and our district office, the total funding for Cameron County, including the U.S. 77 projects in TxDOT’s 2021 UTP draft, is approximately $920 million,” County Judge Eddie Treviño, Jr. said in a statement.

“ Last year, the leadership of the Rio Grande Valley came together and agreed to regionalize the three MPOs in the Rio Grande Valley into one regional MPO,” he added. “The funding for these much-needed projects are the fruits of having one regional MPO.”

Treviño added that the projects will ease traffic congestion, shorten commute times and promote public safety.

rkelley@valleystar.com