LAREDO, Texas (Border Report) – As supply chain issues continue to stymie the nation, officials in the South Texas city of Laredo on Monday announced a new interstate highway corridor that will begin at this border city with Mexico, opening up trade channels to the west and eventually as far north as Canada.
Dubbed the I-27 corridor, the highway is slated to run from Laredo all the way to Lubbock, Texas, and then into New Mexico and Colorado, U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar, a Democrat from Laredo, said at a news conference Monday at Laredo’s City Hall.
He said it will make Laredo the only port city to have four major highways connecting to it, which should help to alleviate the amount of commercial traffic passing through this border town, and help to reduce congestion from big rigs in crowded cities farther north like Austin and Dallas.
Cuellar, who sits on the House Appropriations Committee, said the measure was folded into the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, which President Joe Biden signed into law. The Appropriations Committee then added the highway corridor as a “designation,” which “basically opens up the dollars that will be available for federal funding in the future,” he told Border Report.
The exact amount is unknown but Cuellar told Border Report it will likely be “billions and billions of dollars” once the corridor is complete.
“Basically this opens up the economy in West Texas, ports to plains,” Cuellar told Border Report prior to a news conference with several state and local officials.
Cuellar said he has been working with Democratic Sen. Ben Ray Luján of New Mexico on the project.
Laredo Mayor Pete Saenz said the new corridor will widen existing roads and make them truck-ready and commercial load capable and will better connect Laredo with other Texas border cities to the east in the Rio Grande Valley. It also will connect Laredo with the border cities to the north including Eagle Pass and Del Rio.
“Talk about connectivity and mobility!” Saenz said. “Now with the I-27, it will give us another avenue, corridor to the north northwest to Canada.”
“For a land port of our size and magnitude that’s a blessing,” he said.
The new interstate is expected to help alleviate congestion on busy I-35, which goes to Austin, and which is traveled by 60,000 vehicles every day, David Salazar of the Texas Department of Transportation said Monday.
The I-27 corridor will utilize existing roads to minimize costs by expanding these roads and avoiding the need to build a completely new highway.
And it will happen concurrently as another major border artery – Highway 83 – also is revamped. Highway 83 runs south along the Rio Grande from Laredo to Brownsville and is down to two lanes in certain spots. Once renovated, it will become I-2 and will connect to south Laredo at the start of I-27.
The presumed auxiliary route currently has I-27 beginning at the highway’s mile marker 18 in Laredo and then heading north to Del Rio. At Del Rio, the new highway will take over the current Highway 277, which connects to the Midland/Lubbock area.
When all is done, Laredo will have direct access to four major highways: I-27; I-69; I-35 and I-2, Cuellar said.
“With this interstate development, Laredo will become the only land port of entry with access to four major interstate corridors,” Cuellar said.
He said the I-27 expansion will grow Texas’ economy by $17.2 billion and create 178,000 construction jobs. It also is expected to add 17,000 long-term employment opportunities along the new highway’s corridor.
“Trade corridors that’s really what they area,” Saenz told Border Report. “And wherever they touch there’s that potential for economic activity and development and that’s what we bring as a port. And these roads will help make it possible.”
The new corridor is expected to increase agricultural commercial traffic, as well as commercial vehicles from the energy industry. It also will add an alternative port to Mexico for truckers who might otherwise have crossed from El Paso into Juarez, Mexico.
Local leaders said this new interstate has been a goal for nearly two decades.
“Anything that will alleviate and help our drivers, operators leave Laredo and get to different venues to the east and to the north and to the west is a blessing for us,” said Jerry Maldonado of Warren Trucking Association.
Every year about 4.5 million commercial trucks cross the Southwest border from Mexico at various ports of entry.
Laredo has been increasing its foothold on commercial vehicle traffic over the years with an estimated 2.5 million trucks crossing into Laredo via the city’s World Trade Bridge.
About 7,000 commercial trucks pass through the port of entry every day – 2.5 million per year, bringing in $139 billion in imports per year to the U.S.
Twice Laredo has surpassed Los Angeles as the No. 1 port of entry for goods into the country.