VOL. 115 | NO. 181 | Thursday, October 25, 2001
I-69 crawling toward completion
plans drive slowly toward completion
69, often dubbed the North American trade route, will be an interstate
eventually extending from the Canadian border to the Mexican border, and is
in itself a long road trip.
road initiative began in 1991 when it was approved by Congress as a high
priority corridor extending from Indianapolis to Memphis in legislation called
ISTEA or the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act of 1991.
the 10 years since, other mandates have been amended to the legislation. In
1993, Congress decided to extend the road from Memphis to Houston. In 1995, the
National Highway System Designation Act further extended the corridor to
include the lower Rio Grande Valley of Texas.
mandates have followed. The Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA
21), signed into law June 9, 1998, again redefined the path extension as
Corridor 18 and officially designated it as Interstate 69.
of the road legislation is the result of the North American Free Trade
Agreement, which passed in 1992 making commerce easier across neighboring
borders, but also increased traffic demands.
entire route length will be 1,650 miles and sections are currently open. The
road exists from the Michigan/Canada border to the northeast side of
Indianapolis. The extension of I-69 to the Texas/Mexico border would cover a
distance of 1,250 miles. The extension, Corridor 18, when finished will cross
10 east-west routes and 6 north-south routes.
Mid-Southerners, the routes local placement is still uncertain.
Department of Transportation officials are in the information collection state.
in the early phase of this environmental documentation process, said Jerry
Moorhead, TDOT transportation manager.
meetings were held earlier this month and more are planned for November. The
meetings are designed to describe the potential routes footprint and give a
time to gain information from residents and officials who might be affected by
the new route.
meetings are from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Nov. 13 at Whitehaven High School, 4851
Elvis Presley Blvd. and Frayser High School, 1530 Dellwood Ave.; and 5 p.m. to
7 p.m. Nov. 15 at Arlington Middle School, 5470 Lamb Road and Byhalia High
School, 300 State Highway 309S, Byhalia, Miss.
said TDOT is still looking at the roads impact in many areas including
environmental, traffic and residential.
said the department is probably 20 percent into the process.
are two main alternatives to I-69 when it reaches the Memphis area.
road could either run through Memphis hooking up with Interstate 240 along six
miles or bypass Downtown, running east of it along Nonconnah Parkway.
the road runs through Memphis, Moorhead said the areas of debate are new
sections of the route that could fall either on the west side of U.S. Highway
51 or the east side of 51 near Millington.
I-69 takes the eastern alignment it would run along State Road 385, a section
of which is in the works north of Collierville connecting to Paul Barrett
Parkway on the north. If the road falls on the 385 route, there are three
different directions it could take when it ties into the Mississippi state
many city officials want I-69 to go through Memphis because that route is more
suited to serve the goals of the road.
Gray, Metropolitan Planning Organization coordinator and administrator of
regional service with the department of planning and development, said the
Downtown route would fulfill the congressional goals of promoting multi-modal
transportation and addressing closed military bases.
you go through town what do you get the Millington air station, Charles Baker
Airport, the Port of Memphis, Memphis airport it certainly hits multi-modal,
said it was too early to guess which way the route will go and even ventured to
say it might take on both route alternatives.
been talk of having it go both around town and through town, Gray said.
MPO is responsible for long range and short-range transportation planning and
making sure local projects are in accordance with federal requirements.
I-69 plans have not yet fallen into the Memphis MPO jurisdiction yet, he said.
stage is the identification of sensitive areas, Gray said.
Boyd, Tennessee for the Federal Highway Administration division administrator,
confirmed the road might take both directions.
said the route east of the city would give an alternative to travelers wanting
to bypass Downtown.
state and federal highway administrations continue to make plans, many people
are anxious to see I-69 become a reality.
Starnes, chairman and chief executive officer of trucking company M.S.
Carriers, said he is glad to see plans underway because if more roads arent
built, there will be traffic jams down the road.
we dont start building more highway systems and capacity, our interstate
system will be gridlocked in 10 years, Starnes said.
need to be building more interstates and I-69 certainly is critical especially
with the trade going on with us and Mexico. It is absolutely critical it gets
there are organizations thinking the interstate, along future building of other
systems, will ultimately devastate the environment.
Lundberg, Alliance for a Paving Moratorium founder, calls the interstate a
real tragic and wasteful enterprise.
is totally in opposition to efficiency in transportation and conserving oil,
he said, underlining that rail is eight times more energy efficient than truck
roads are already very unsafe with a lot of truck travel on them.
the kind of development taking place (along the interstate) would not be
healthy, local development but sprawl development with corporate chain outlets