By Emily Banks Wooten
Monday was a history-making day for the north end of the county, a day that many wondered if they would ever see. With a slew of dignitaries on hand to hold the shovels, ground was broken for the construction of the Corrigan Relief Route, the largest and most expensive project ever undertaken for the Texas Department of Transportation’s (TxDOT) Lufkin District.
“This is a really exciting day and has been a long time coming. It will complement Corrigan and provide a non-stop travel experience,” Lufkin District Engineer Kelli Morris
“Change is coming, and we need to prepare for it,” County Judge Sydney Murphy said. “I do think this project has had more stops and starts than anything in the history of the state of Texas. I know it’s been close to 40 years. I remember being a teacher at Corrigan-Camden and hearing Jasper Cockrell talk about it when I was pregnant with my son Matthew and Matthew’s 38 now. We welcome you and thank you.”
“I’m excited to see the project begin and I’m proud to be the one to lead this project,” Livingston Area Engineer Clint Jones, who serves Polk and San Jacinto counties, said.
“This project will bring Hwy. 59 up to interstate standards and will result in goods and services being sourced in the area for years to come,” Shawn Dunn, speaking on behalf of Sen. Robert Nichols, said.
“I know with growth there are growing pains. This is a project that has been on the books for over 25 years now. There are a lot of people that we owe a debt of gratitude to that are not in this room. We’re standing on their shoulders. This is huge. It’s monumental. I know this is going to be welcome for our traveling public and freight movement,” Rep. Trent Ashby said.
“Getting to break ground today on the Corrigan Relief Route is very exciting. Once complete, it will serve as the hurricane evacuation route,” TxDOT’s Director of Construction Shannon Ramos said.
The $172.8 million construction project will be built to interstate standards and will include construction of new U.S. 59 northbound and southbound lanes with controlled access.
The 6.3-mile project will be from 3.4 miles north of U.S. 287 to 3 miles south of U.S. 287. Work will include the construction of overpasses at United Pacific Railroad, U.S. 287 and Union Springs Road. Entrance and exit ramps will be added at U.S. 59 tie-ins and at the U.S. 287 overpass and will include the construction of four main lanes for travel.
James Construction Group LLC of Baton Rouge, La. will serve as contractor for the project that is scheduled to be completed in six years.
Planning for the Corrigan Relief Route began in the late 1990s when environmental studies began but were stopped due to budgetary constraints. Project development resumed in 2012 when I-69 in Polk County was considered a top priority by the I-69 Segment Two Committee. Schematics and right-of-way maps were studied and in 2014, an open house was held for the public to view the proposed path.
Further refinements to the plan were made and presented to the public in 2015, and in 2016 environmental studies and schematic reviews were performed. A public hearing was held in 2017 to gather public comments and the Texas Transportation Commission approved the revisions and funded the project.
The Corrigan Relief Route will be built to promote public safety, improve emergency evacuations and support freight transport. As the work begins, motorists should be alert to moving equipment and workers near the work zone. Reduce speed and obey all traffic control.