An efficient and modern transportation system is vital to economic growth and to safety. Traffic through the 15th Congressional District has grown dramatically as a result of the North American Free Trade Agreement. For example, 1.9 million trucks and 23.7 million cars cross back and forth annually over the Texas -- Mexico border in the Rio Grande Valley. Yet there is no interstate highway system in South Texas from San Antonio to McAllen and Harlingen to efficiently move this trade and traffic north or south. Congressman Hinojosa is committed to improving transportation infrastructure throughout the 15th Congressional District.
The new I-69 would allow traffic from McAllen, Laredo and Brownsville, Texas to connect on a single route to the Canadian Highway System via Port Huron, Michigan and to the Mexican Interstate system. Congressman Hinojosa, working with his colleagues, successfully obtained funding for the Texas Department of Transportation to complete the final engineering route studies for I-69 in Texas. Already work is being done on US 281 and US 77 to bring them up to interstate standards. Through the stimulus funding, which Cong. Hinojosa supported, work is currently being done on US 281 in Falfurrias, Ben Bolt and George West so that it can become part of the new I-69. Once completed, I-69 will bring economic development to the more than 20 million people, half of whom are under the national poverty level, who live along the route.
Working with his colleagues in the Texas delegation, Congressman Hinojosa fought to insure that Texas received a fairer portion of the highway formula funds. These funds are generated by federal gas taxes and returned to the states and make up the bulk of funding available to states for highway projects. Previously, Texas received only an 89 cent return for every dollar it sent to Washington. The coalition successfully increased the return to more than 92 cents. This has brought billions more for Texas road projects.
In addition, Congressman Hinojosa is working to improve land ports to move trade more efficiently. Congressman Hinojosa coordinated with federal agencies responsible for approving the Donna/Rio Bravo International Bridge project and the Anzalduas Bridge project. Both have recently opened and are easing congestion and spurring economic growth. He is now working to bring commercial traffic to both ports.