Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Brownsville in The 21st Century

A new century, rr, millenium has dawned upon us with ever expanding techologies, population growth, enviromental issues, and growing cities among many other things.

Brownsville is no different. I'm only going to concentrate on issues regarding B'ville and its infrasctucture or lack of that will plague B'ville in this new century and propose ideas to help alleviate these problems. I'm sure that some of my ideas may already have been thought of but I will go ahead and mention them.

It's interesting to note that B'ville has only one major limited access highway (77/83) going through it. B'ville is currently booming and with that boom comes people. People bring cars, and cars bring headaches. The following are ideas that will help the congestion of B'ville.
West Loop
This West Loop idea is already being discussed and may become a reality as soon as the West Rail Relocation Project moves forward with the cosntruction eliminating the railroad that runs through the city to the B&M Bridge. After the new rail bridge gets built southwest of B'ville, the current railraod tracks of Union Pacific would be turned into the West Loop. This is a good idea and great foresite for whom ever thought this up. One way to ruin a good idea is to turn the West Loop into a boulevard. Why? Cuz this would create infinite city lights to deal with and create more bottleneck than move traffic smoothly.
Instead, West Loop should be built as a limited access highway, such as the Expressway 77/83. The loop is suppose to start at Palm Blvd and end somewhere at Alton Gloor (Tejon Rd) Blvd. If this is to be so, then not only should West Loop be limited access but also connect to the Expressway 77/83 via interchnages. This way, traffic on Expressway 77/83 can exit on West Loop without having to come to a light. More flowing traffic equals shorter time travel. Lets hope that our city leaders do the right thing and build West Loop into a limited access highway.
East Loop
Although the first phase of this loop has been completed (now called University Blvd) and connects Elizabeth St (Downtown) with the Expressway 77/83, the next phase will run from Expressway 77/83 to the airport and then from the airport to the Port of Brownsville. Again, this 2nd phase should be built as a limited access highway to aliviate bottlenecks at traffic lights and adding more traffic lights to just about every intersection. Brownsville doesn't need more traffic lights. The great thing about this project is that it will connect the airport directly to the Expressway 77/83.
Currently, to get to the airport is a hassle, which ever direction you choose to take; I've tried them all! More direct access to/from the airport means more business to our city as people, especially those not from here or familiar with this area, do not like to try and guess their way out.
FM 511
This highway is currently a very dangerous two-lane road. There are current plans to expand it to a four lane highway with a possiblity of adding a dedicated truck lane in the center part. I'm not sure if this expansion would be a limited access highway or not but sure would be a good idea to do so. The expansion of the section of FM 511 would be from the Expressway 77/83 to the Port of Brownsville. It may even to intergrated into the I-69 if it happens to come down in the future. FM 511 would connect to the proposed East Loop, which would then connect to the airport.
Boca Chica Expressway
OK, this is my ideabut I think is the best idea to ever be imagined. Here it goes:
Currently, the major bottlenecks in Brownsville happens right at the intersections of the expressway with the major thoughrough fares. Try driving in these areas between 4:00pm to 6:00pm and you will see what I mean!
The idea here is to create Boca Chica Blvd into a limited access highway that would connect HW 281 (Military Highway), which inturn goes to Canada, to International Blvd, which also connects to HW 48 (goes to Port Isabel and SPI). An interchange would definately be required and this idea would aleviate many of the bottlenecks going from the east/west dirrection. Boca Chica is already a seven-lane (one center/turning lane) and would be large enough to accomodate the expressway without buying rights of way. Not to mention that Boca Chica Blvd literally connects South Padre island to Canada!!
Highway 281
Highway 281, as mentioned before, connects to Canada but is at this time, only two-lanes. It goes to McAllen along the Rio Grande River, and from there, it heads north to San Antonio and then to Canada. The stretch of 281 from Brownsville to McAllen should be expanded into a four lane, limited access highway. Imagen the amount of visitors to Brownsville form Monterrey and other parts of Mexico! This would be a hit. Mexicans from Monterrey are already bypassing McAllen because McAllen is just to over crowded and congested and they are coming over to Brownsville in large droves. I believe that there is a plan to expanded it but again, I'm not sure if it would be a limited access highway.
This is definately what Brownsville needs, an intersate highway. For too long the Rio Grande Valley has been underserved by a major federal highway. Especially considering that there is a lot of truck and car traffic along highway 77. Now that the Expressway 77/83 is being expanded to six lanes, there may be a good chance that I-69 could come our way, but don't hold your breath. It could take up to five years or more! Even if it gets approved now.
I recently went to a meeting that occured at the Brownsville Events Center that showcased the new highway and to see if there is support for this highway in this area. I left a comment with my huge support!! With the I-69 is also the TTC (Trans Texas Corridor) that Governor Rick Perry wants to see built. For more on this, please visit TxDot at: TTC
Finally, the ideas is to have a limited access highway that completely loops around the city, starting at the FM 511 to the Port of Brownsville, connecting to the East Loop with the airport, and then reconnecting to the Expressway 77/83 near the university in downtown, and Finally East Loop to West Loop and back up to the Expressway 77/83 near Alton Gloor. Boca Chica Expressway would connect HW 48 to HW 281 literally connecting SPI with Canada!!Phew!!!!
Brownsville will never look the same if and when these ideas come to fruition. What are your alls view of this? Let me know.


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