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Interstate 69 (I-69) is an Interstate Highway in the United Statesmarker. It exists in two parts: a completed highway from Indianapolis, Indianamarker, northeast to the Canadian border in Port Huron, Michiganmarker, and a mostly-proposed extension southwest to the Mexican border in Texasmarker. Of this extension – nicknamed the NAFTA Superhighway because it would help trade with Canadamarker and Mexicomarker spurred by the North American Free Trade Agreement – only two short piececes—one in northwestern Mississippimarker and in the Memphis, Tennesseemarker area and a 1.8-mile segment near Evansville, Indianamarker--have been built and signed as I-69 (see Interstate 69 in Mississippi). A third segment of I-69 through Kentucky was established by federal legislation in 2008. The 145-mile (232 km) section utilizes existing freeways and a section of Interstate 24.

The southern terminus of the original portion is at Interstate 465, the beltway around Indianapolis, on the northeast side of that city. I-69 heads northeast, past Andersonmarker, Munciemarker, Marionmarker, and Fort Wayne, Indianamarker; the latter city is served by Interstate 469, I-69's only current signed auxiliary route. After crossing the Indiana Toll Road (I-80/I-90) near Angolamarker, I-69 enters Michigan, crossing I-94 east of Battle Creekmarker and joining with I-96 for an overlap west of Lansingmarker. Where it splits from I-96, I-69 turns east, both in compass direction and in signed direction, and heads north of Lansing and through Flintmarker (where it crosses I-75) to a junction with I-94 in Port Huron. The last bit of I-69 overlaps I-94 to the Blue Water Bridgemarker across the St. Clair Rivermarker, where traffic continues on Highway 402 in the Canadian province of Ontariomarker.

In addition to the main line of I-69, the overall project – known as Corridors 18 and 20 of the National Highway System – also includes Interstate 94 between Chicagomarker and Port Huron, and several spurs from I-69. Among these proposed spurs are an extension of Interstate 530 from Pine Bluff, Arkansasmarker, an upgrade of U.S. Route 59 from Texarkana, Texasmarker, and a split in southern Texas to serve three border crossings at Laredomarker, Pharrmarker, and Brownsvillemarker. In August 2007, I-69 was selected by the USDOT as one of six Corridors of the Future, making it eligible for additional federal funding and streamlined planning and review.

Route description

Interstate 69 currently exists in three distinct sections: the original route from Indianapolis, Indianamarker to the Blue Water Bridgemarker at Port Huron, Michiganmarker, a 1.8-mile (2.9 km) section from I-64/I-164 to Indiana 68 in southwest Indiana, and a 42-mile (70 km) section from Tunica Resortsmarker to the I-40/I-69/TN-300 interchange in Memphis, Tennesseemarker.

Interstate 69 in Indiana starts at an interchange with Interstate 465 in northeastern Indianapolismarker, running roughly northeast to near Anderson, Indianamarker, where it turns more easterly to provide indirect access to Munciemarker before turning more northerly towards Fort Waynemarker. In Fort Wayne, I-69 roughly runs along the western edge of the city while an auxiliary route, Interstate 469, loops east of the city. I-69 continues northerly to the Indiana Toll Road near Fremontmarker, then crosses the border into Michigan just south of Kinderhookmarker.

I-69 in Michigan runs north passing through Coldwatermarker and Marshallmarker. Near Olivetmarker, I-69 begins to turn in a northeasterly direction passing through the Lansing metropolitan area. Here I-69 is cosigned on with I-96, the only such palindromic pairing in the Interstate Highway System. I-69 is signed east-west from Lansing through Flint to Port Huron. At its eastern terminus, I-69 joins I-94 to cross the Blue Water Bridges at the Canadian border over the St. Clair River.

Interstate 69 in Mississippi and Tennessee starts at an at-grade intersection with the former route of Mississippi Highway 304 in Banksmarker, Tunica Countymarker. It continues roughly north-northeast, crossing into DeSoto Countymarker, to a partial interchange with the current route of MS 304, then runs easterly to an interchange with Interstate 55 in northern Hernandomarker. It then continues north, overlapping I-55 to the Tennessee state line, and continues northward multiplexed with I-55 to the south side of Memphis. It then follows I-240 northward through downtown before joining I-40. Presently, the northern end of this section of I-69 is at the I-40/I-69/TN-300 interchange on the north side of Memphis. This portion of the route is the first "section of independent utility" of the proposed extension to be signed as part of the national I-69 route, and the first portion designed as part of the extension.

Proposed extension

In 2000, Corridors 18 and 20 were split into 32 sections of independent utility (SIUs) as part of the I-69 (Corridor 18) Special Environmental Study. Some states use these SIU numbers to identify projects. I-94 between Chicago and Port Huron was SIU 27.

, SIU 1 (north of Indianapolis) and SIU 2 (which will use I-465 around Indianapolis) are open, as is the short SIU 10 in northwestern Mississippi, and part of SIU 9 in the Memphis, Tennesseemarker area. SIUs 5 and 6 in Kentucky are built as freeways, but not to Interstate standards. On June 6, 2008 , President George W. Bush signed HR-1195, designating these parkways as I-69. Kentucky officials planned to place I-69 signs on Breathitt, Western Kentucky, and Purchase Parkways in 2008, but the Federal highway Administration has not yet given Kentucky approval to do so.
Three SIUs in Indiana, Tennessee, and Arkansas (3, 9, and 28) are under construction; portions of SIUs 9 and 28 are open to traffic. Most of the remaining parts of the mainline are in the environmental impact statement (EIS) stages; the Federal Highway Administration has signed records of decision approving the final EIS for SIUs 7, 11, 12, and 13.

While federal legislation established a mandate to extend I-69 from Indiana to Texas, it did not provide funding for its construction. Therefore, it must compete against other projects for traditional funding. Despite approval of several segments, work has been completed on only one segment, due in part to increasing costs for construction materials and machinery. As a result, several states have indicated that construction of I-69 may not be possible without the use of tolls as the primary means to finance building the highway. Tennessee, Arkansas, and Mississippi passed legislation authorizing toll roads within each state. In Texas, a private firm will build, operate, then transfer the highway to the state after a specified period of time. Lawmakers in Kentucky are considering a bill that would authorize the re-tolling of three parkways slated to become I-69. Kentucky and Indiana plan to finance a new bridge across the Ohio River with tolls, and governor Mitch Daniels announced in 2006 that I-69 through Indiana will be toll-free; about half of I-69 extension through southwest Indiana will be built using $700 million from the 2006 Major Moves deal, although the Major Moves legislation gives Indiana the option to place tolls on I-69 if necessary.

In Texasmarker, I-69 planning has become part of the Trans-Texas Corridor (TTC) studies. This part of the TTC, called I-69/TTC, includes I-69 and all of its spurs authorized by Congress. It will extend from three border crossings, at Laredomarker, McAllenmarker, and Brownsvillemarker, along US 59, US 281, and US 77 towards Victoriamarker. After the three branches join, I-69 will continue along the general US 59 corridor past Houstonmarker to Carthagemarker, where it will turn easterly to Louisiana. Around Houston, I-69 may use the Grand Parkway (SH 99) around the west side or follow the US-59 freeway through downtown. A planned branch continues north on US 59 to Texarkanamarker. Most of the proposed I-69 route in Texas already exists as 4-lane highways, with a lengthy freeway section stretching north and south of Houston along U.S. 59 and shorter freeway sections of U.S. 77, U.S. 83, and U.S. 281 in the Rio Grande Valley.

The I-69/TTC project has been split into 15 SIUs, which match the original ones but do not share numbers. SIUs 1 to 8 (original 16 to 23) cover the main line along the "I-69 East" branch to Brownsville. The "I-69 Central" branch to McAllen is SIUs 9, 11, and 12 (original 24 to 26). The branches to Texarkana and Laredo are SIUs 13 and 14 (original 29 and 30), and two connections near Brownsville are SIUs 10 and 15 (original 31 and 32). The I-69/TTC study also includes SIU L-CC, a connection between Laredo and Corpus Christimarker that was not in the 2000 study. The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) originally considered building the I-69/TTC over new terrain paralleling US-59, US-77, and US-281. Responding to widespread opposition from environmental groups and property rights activists, TxDOT announced in June 2008 that it will complete I-69 by upgrading the existing US-59, US-77, and US-281 roadways to Interstate standards through rural areas, with bypasses around urban centers along the route. Instead of building the Trans-Texas Corridor as originally planned, TxDOT now plans to finance upgrading the existing highways to I-69 through private sector investment. Under the proposed arrangement, I-69 would remain toll-free where it overlaps pre-existing highways, while bypasses of cities may be tolled. The private firms awarded contracts for I-69 would also build and operate toll roads throughout the state; some of those revenues would then be applied to I-69 construction.

As well as covering the part in Texas northeast of Nacogdochesmarker, SIU 16 also extends into Louisianamarker, ending at US 171 near Stonewallmarker. SIU 15 continues around the south and east sides of the Shreveportmarker area, crossing I-49 and ending at I-20 near Haughtonmarker.Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development, I-69, SIU 15 Project Site, accessed August 2007 SIU 14 extends northeast from I-20 to US 82 near El Dorado, Arkansasmarker,Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department and Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development, Interstate 69 Shreveport to El Dorado, accessed August 2007 and SIU 13 continues northeast to US 65 near McGeheemarker, mainly paralleling US 278.Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department, Interstate 69 El Dorado to McGehee, accessed August 2007 Also included in Corridor 18, as SIU 28, is an extension of I-530 from Pine Bluffmarker south along the US 425 corridor to I-69 west of Monticellomarker; a short piece at the south end opened in mid-2006 as Highway 530. The Charles W.marker Dean Bridgemarker, SIU 12, will cross the Mississippi River between McGehee, Arkansas and Benoit, Mississippimarker, while SIU 11 will parallel US 61 to Tunica Resortsmarker.Mississippi Department of Transportation, I-69 Robinsonville to Benoit, accessed August 2007 SIU 10, the first completed portion of the I-69 extension, runs east from Robinsonville to I-55 near Hernandomarker, and opened in late 2006. With the record of decision signed in 2007, the FHWA authorized MDOT to add I-69 signs on I-55 from the I-55/I-69 interchange in Hernando to the Tennessee state line.

I-69 SIU 9 overlaps I-55 into Memphis, Tennesseemarker, switching there to I-240 and then I-40 before leaving onto the short State Route 300 connection and then paralleling US 51 to near Millingtonmarker. On January 18, 2008, the FHWA authorized TDOT to erect I-69 signs on I-55, I-240, and I-40 from the Mississippi state line to the I-40/TN300 interchange. The proposed Interstate 269 will bypass this part of I-69, beginning where I-69 joins I-55 in Mississippi and ending near Millington, and will include the northern part of State Route 385 near Millington. SIU 8 will continue beyond Millington, near US 51, to I-155 near Dyersburgmarker, while SIU 7 will use the existing US 51 freeway and new bypasses to the state line at Fulton, Kentuckymarker.Tennessee Department of Transportation, Interstate 69 Project, accessed August 2007 In Kentucky, I-69 mostly follows existing freeways once built as toll roads. SIU 6 follows the Purchase Parkway and I-24 from Fulton to Eddyvillemarker, while SIU 5 continues along the Western Kentucky Parkway and Pennyrile Parkway to Hendersonmarker. While these parkways received the I-69 designation by federal legislation signed in 2008, they will require upgrading to Interstate standards – but will not require as much work as in other states, where entirely new highways must be built. The preferred alternative for SIU 4 will leave the Pennyrile Parkway near its north end and cross the Ohio River to I-164 near Evansville, Indianamarker, and will then use I-164 to I-64. SIU 3, connecting I-64 to I-465 in southern Indianapolismarker, will roughly parallel State Road 57 and State Road 37 past Bloomingtonmarker.Indiana Department of Transportation, Official I-69 Evansville to Indianapolis Study Homepage, accessed August 2007 Finally, SIU 2 will follow I-465 around the city.

History

A route from Indianapolismarker northeast via Fort Waynemarker to I-80/I-90 near Angolamarker was added to the proposed "Interregional Highway System" by the early 1940s. Unlike most of the routes, it was not drawn along an existing U.S. Highway corridor, except north of Fort Wayne (where it used US 27); most of it ran along State Road 9.Public Roads Administration, Routes of the Recommended Interregional Highway System, ca. 1943 The extension beyond Angola to I-94 near Marshallmarker actually started out as part of what evolved into I-94. On early plans, the Chicago-Detroit route would have replaced US 112 (now US 12), splitting from I-80/I-90 at South Bendmarker. By 1947, the route had been shifted north to present I-94, along what was then US 12, but the connection to South Bend remained, splitting at Kalamazoo.

The Interstate 69 designation was assigned to the Indianapolis-Angola route in 1957, while the short South Bend-Kalamazoo route became Interstate 67. I-67 was shifted east to the US 27 corridor by early 1958, becoming an extension of I-69 to I-94 near Marshall. The Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1968 authorized an additional 1500 miles (2400 km) of Interstates, to be chosen by the Federal Highway Administration; among Michigan's proposals was a 156-mile (251 km) extension of I-69 northeast and east via US 27 to Lansingmarker, M-78 to Flintmarker, and M-21 to Port Huronmarker. However, the FHWA only approved the route to I-475 in Flint. The continuation to Port Huron was approved in late 1984. Michigan's 1241-mile (1997 km) portion of the Interstate system was completed in 1992, when the last piece of I-69 opened southwest of Lansingmarker.

The Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act of 1991 included two High Priority Corridors that would later become parts of a proposed extension of I-69: Corridor 18 was extended southwest to Houston, Texasmarker, where it connected to Corridor 20, by the Department of Transportation and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 1993; the new definition read "Corridor from Indianapolis, Indiana, through Evansville, Indiana, Memphis, Tennessee, Shreveportmarker/Bossier, Louisianamarker, and to Houston, Texas." The National Highway System Designation Act of 1995 made further amendments to the description of Corridor 18, specifying that it would serve Mississippimarker and Arkansasmarker, extending it south to the Mexican border in the Lower Rio Grande Valley, and adding a short connection at Brownsville, Texasmarker. This act also specified that Corridors 18 and 20 were "future parts of the Interstate System", to become actual Interstates when built to Interstate standards and connected to other Interstates. Although the act designated Corridor 9 as Interstate 99, no number was assigned to Corridors 18 and 20 yet.

The Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21), enacted in 1998, greatly expanded the definition of Corridor 18 to include the existing I-69, as well as Interstate 94 between Port Huron and Chicagomarker. A connection to Pine Bluff, Arkansasmarker was added, and the extension to the Lower Rio Grande Valley was detailed as splitting into two routes at Victoriamarker, one following US 77 and the other following US 59 and US 281 to the Rio Grande. This act also assigned the Interstate 69 designation to Corridors 18 and 20, with the branches on US 77 and US 281 to the Rio Grande being "I-69 East" and "I-69 Central". With TEA-21, the I-69 extension took shape, and remains today as those segments.

Opposition and controversy

Opponents believe that I-69, by subsidizing trade between Canadamarker, the U.S.marker, Mexicomarker, and Latin America, will further undercut jobs in the United States in favor of cheaper labor in Mexico and Latin America.

The construction of I-69 has also angered environmentalists. In particular, the portion of the route in Indiana would run through wetlands, existing farmland, and forested areas, and cut through geologically sensitive "karst" terrain, which environmentalists argue threatens to pollute underground water systems and harm the rare species that live there.

Opposition comes also from urban planners who (in addition to the concerns above) believe the highway will require subsidies of up to $2 billion a year and will greatly increase the spread of suburban sprawl and automobile dependency at a time when oil prices continue to rise to unprecedented levels.

More specifically, the extension of Interstate 69 has seen organized opposition in a number of states along the route, most notably Indianamarker, Tennesseemarker, and Texasmarker.

Auxiliary routes



References

External links




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