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Featured: Rep. Terry Canales, D-Edinburg, helped welcome Valley residents on Thursday, August 16, 2018 to the Rio Grande Valley Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Legislative Report Card Luncheon at the Cimarron Country Club in Mission.

Featured: Rep. Terry Canales, D-Edinburg, helped welcome Valley residents on Thursday, August 16, 2018 to the Rio Grande Valley Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Legislative Report Card Luncheon at the Cimarron Country Club in Mission.

Photograph By ISMAEL GARCÍA

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Texas Transportation Commission set to move forward on $320 million I-2/I-69C Interchange Project, and will also consider $2.6 million funding request for South Texas International Airport at Edinburg, announces Rep. Canales

By DAVID A. DÍAZ
Legislativemedia@aol.com

The Texas Transportation Commission on August 30, 2108 is set to move forward on the I-2/I-69C Interchange Project in Hidalgo County, which is projected to cost $320 million, and will also consider a $2.6 million funding request for the South Texas International Airport at Edinburg, Rep. Terry Canales, D-Edinburg, has announced.

The five-member commission and its executive director are responsible for helping lead the Texas Department of Transportation in the construction and maintenance of Texas’ state highway system and overseeing aviation, rail and public transportation systems in the state.

The public meeting of the Texas Transportation Commission, whose members are appointed by the governor with the consent of the Texas Senate, will be held at 125 East 11th Street in Austin, beginning at 9 a.m. The gathering takes place in the Ric Williamson Hearing Room on the first floor of the TxDOT office complex.

“State leaders will consider authorizing the Texas Department of Transportation to issue a request for proposals for the design, development, construction, and potential maintenance of the I-2/I-69C Interchange Project as a non-tolled project, which provides for improvements to the I-2/I-69C interchange and operational improvements to I-2 and I-69C in McAllen, Pharr, and San Juan (the I-2/I-69C Interchange Project),” Canales said.

The public is able to view the meeting live on the Internet by logging on to the Texas Transportation Commission website at:

https://www.txdot.gov/inside-txdot/administration/commission/2018-meetings.html

The I-2/I-69C Interchange Project is more commonly known as the Pharr Interchange Project.

“The Pharr Interchange is the heart of Hidalgo County’s transportation network,” Canales noted. “It is imperative that we keep up with the huge growth across our region by expanding the capacity of this important transportation junction.”

Plans call for construction to begin in 2019, with 2023 being the estimated time of completion for the I-2/I-69C Interchange Project.

“The Texas Transportation Commission says that once completed, the I-2/I-69C Interchange Project would decrease congestion, enhance system connectivity, optimize ramp and interchange operations, reduce travel time, and improve mobility,” Canales added.

Also according to the Texas Transportation Commission:

• The I-2/I-69C Interchange Project will provide approximately 7.8 miles of non-tolled improvements along US 83 from just west of 2nd Street to just east of FM 2557 (S. Stewart Road) and US 281 from Nolana Loop to I-2 in McAllen, Pharr, and San Juan;

• The planned improvements include the full reconstruction of the I-2/I-69C Interchange Project to include two-lane direct connectors in all four directions;

• The US 83 general purpose lanes will be reconstructed and/or widened from six to eight non-tolled general purpose lanes (four in each direction) from 2nd Street to the US 83/US 281 interchange, while operational improvements include the reconfiguration of main lane ramps and improvements to the approaches and departures to and from the direct connectors.

On Thursday, May 24, 2018, the Texas Transportation Commission approved an agenda item authorizing the first step in the procurement process for the full reconstruction of the I-2/I-69C Interchange Project.

By authorizing a Request for Qualifications (RFQ), TxDOT began accepting proposals from entities to enter into a design-build contract to reconstruct the I-2/I-69C Interchange Project.

TxDOT had previously approved $150 million for this project.

Sen. Hinojosa: “This is a significant step forward.”

“This is a significant step forward for the reconstruction of the Pharr Interchange that will benefit the entire Rio Grande Valley region. I appreciate the Texas Transportation Commission, TxDOT leadership, and our local public officials for their tireless efforts in advocating for this project, which will now be a reality,” said Sen. Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa, D-McAllen.

Hinojosa added, “For too long, we have known that the initial design of the Pharr Interchange was not made for the growth we have experienced in the RGV, and created a big congestion problem in Hidalgo County. The Pharr Interchange is a key intersection that helps keep people and goods moving, and this project will not only address current congestion but will better prepare us for future growth. The reconstruction of this interchange will help the Texas economy and improve the quality of life for our RGV residents.”

Pharr Mayor Hernández: “We are in the epicenter of a bustling economy.”

Pharr Mayor Ambrosio “Amos” Hernández serves as Chair of the Transportation Policy Committee for the Hidalgo County Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO).

The Transportation Policy Committee (TPC) is the decision-making body of the Hidalgo County MPO. The TPC serve as spokespersons for citizens of the county as well as each city in the metro area. The TPC is responsible for creating policies regarding transportation planning issues. The board includes local officials (elected) and county representatives, transit agencies, and transportation agencies.

In published comments on Tuesday, June 12, 2018, Hernández also emphasized the importance of the I-2/I-69C Interchange Project.

“The Rio Grande Valley continues to grow at an astronomical rate. We have especially felt this growth in Hidalgo County, where we expect to hit a population of over 1 million before the 2020 census – and in all likelihood, we already have,” Hernández said.  “Along with the need for more housing and community services, among others, is the dire need for improved roadways and transportation. Not only are our roadways used by our citizens to get from home to school to work, but with a booming trade industry and international corridors, we are in the epicenter of a bustling economy that relies on transportation around the clock.”

Edinburg airport needs funding for holding pond expansion

Meanwhile, the city-owned South Texas International Airport at Edinburg could secure more than $2.5 million for a key improvement if they receive approval for federal funds from the Texas Transportation Commission.

On Thursday, August 9, 2018, the Edinburg City Council “approved a resolution authorizing the city manager to submit a Letter of Interest (LOI) to the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) Aviation Division expressing the (city leadership’s) desire to compete for the Fiscal Year 2018- 2020 Supplemental Discretionary Funding as provided in the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2018, and to be considered for recommendation to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for funding request, in the amount of $2,572,479.25, for the proposed Holding Pond Expansion Project at South Texas International Airport at Edinburg.

The Holding Pond Expansion Project “is needed to improve the airport’s drainage system and would complete an expansion of the existing retention facility in order to mitigate and substantially minimize the current drainage/flooding issues. A preliminary modeling and analysis completed in April 2018, by Cortran Engineering, PLLC, recommends the excavation of an additional holding cell at an estimated cost of $2,572,479.25,” Assistant City Manager Carla Rodríguez said.

“As the population of Hidalgo County continues to growth north, the South Texas International Airport at Edinburg will continue to grow in prominence as an important transportation hub for our region,” Canales said. I appreciate the Transportation Commission for their vision for investing in the Edinburg Community”

According to the municipal airport’s website:

• The South Texas International Airport at Edinburg has one northwest-southeast (14-32) oriented runway with one full-length parallel taxiway, a helipad, a large General Aviation Apron, and twenty-one (21) tie downs. Runway 14-32 is 5,000 feet long by 75 feet wide;The weight bearing capacity is 30,000 pounds per wheel load;

• Navigational aids consist of Precision Approach Path Indicators (PAPI) lights, Medium Intensity Runway Edge Lights (MIRL), lighted wind cone, beacon light tower, and Automated Weather Observation System (AWOS);

• There are twelve (12) small (40’ X 40’) hangar spaces, three (3) (50’ X 60’) box hangars, and one (1) (100’ X 100’) Main Hanger;

• The Terminal Building constructed in 2001 consists of a large lobby, pilot’s lounge, meeting room, office spaces and restroom facilities; and

• A 50,000 square foot air cargo building was completed in 2007 to be a full service facility that support third party logistic services, storage, handling and distribution of goods.

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Roxanne De la Garza contributed to this article. Rep. Terry Canales, D-Edinburg, represents House District 40 in Hidalgo County. HD 4o includes portions or all of Edinburg, Elsa, Faysville, La Blanca, Linn, Lópezville, McAllen, Pharr, San Carlos and Weslaco. He may be reached at his House District Office in Edinburg at (956) 383-0860 or at the Capitol at (512) 463-0426. 

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