Thursday, February 16, 2012

Interstate 69

Interstate 69 (I-69) is an Interstate Highway in the United States consisting of disjoint parts with an original continuous segment from Indianapolis, Indiana, northeast to the Canadian border in Port Huron, Michigan. The remaining separated parts are variously completed and posted or unposted parts of a long-distance extension southwest to the Mexican border in Texas. Of this extension – nicknamed the NAFTA Superhighway because it would help trade with Canada and Mexico spurred by the North American Free Trade Agreement – three short pieces—a 6.2 mile (10.0 km) section near Corpus Christi, Texas, one in northwestern Mississippi and in the Memphis, Tennessee area and a 1.73-mile segment near Evansville, Indiana--have been newly built and/or upgrade and signed as I-69 (see Interstate 69 in Texas, in Mississippi, and in Indiana). A fourth segment of I-69 through Kentucky, 145 miles (232 km) long utilizing that state's existing parkway system and a section of Interstate 24, was established by federal legislation in 2008, but the Federal Highway Administration did not authorize the parkways to be signed as I-69 until upgrades of certain sections are complete. A 55-mile (88.5 km) section of the previously existing Western Kentucky Parkway from Eddyville to Nortonville was approved and signed in late 2011.

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 Anderson, Muncie, Marion, and Fort Wayne, Indiana; the latter city is served by Interstate 469, I-69's only current signed auxiliary route. After crossing the Indiana East-West Toll Road (I-80/I-90) near Angola, I-69 enters Michigan, crossing I-94 east of Battle Creek and joining with I-96 for an overlap west of Lansing. 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 Flint (where it crosses I-75) to a junction with I-94 just outside Port Huron. The last bit of I-69 overlaps I-94 to the Blue Water Bridge across the St. Clair River, where traffic continues on Highway 402 in the Canadian province of Ontario.

The proposed extension evolved from the combination of Corridors 18 and 20 of the National Highway System as designated in the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act of 1991, but the federally recognized corridor also includes connecting and existing infrastructure, including Interstate 94 between Chicago and Port Huron and several spurs from I-69. Among these proposed spurs are an extension of Interstate 530 from Pine Bluff, Arkansas (known as "the Dickey Split," for its champion, congressman Jay Dickey), an upgrade of U.S. Route 59 from Texarkana, Texas, and a split in southern Texas to serve three border crossings at Laredo, Pharr, and Brownsville.

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.

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