Currently, the SH 68 project is described in the Metropolitan Transportation Plan (MTP) and the Statewide Transportation Improvement Program (STIP) as a four-lane divided rural highway facility with future mainlanes and overpasses in eastern Hidalgo County from US 83/I-2 to US 281/I-69C. The facility described in the MTP and STIP has a total project length of approximately 22 miles.
SH 68 is needed because there are limited current north-south roadways in the area and population is projected to increase substantially in the future, which will substantially increase traffic volume on current north-south roadways in the area. SH 68 is also needed to improve the emergency evacuation capacity of the state highway system in the south Texas region.
The purpose of the SH 68 project is to accommodate population growth and higher traffic volumes, while relieving the burden on the limited number of existing north-south roadways, and provide an alternate north-south evacuation route during emergency events.
Significance of Impacts
The significance of impacts for the proposed SH 68 project was initially uncertain, so the process began by preparing an environmental assessment (EA). Based on preliminary analysis and feedback from the public, it was determined that an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) should be prepared. The EIS will incorporate information collected during the EA process; in addition, public input gathered during the development of the EA will be considered in the EIS process.
The EIS will analyze potential direct, indirect and cumulative impacts from construction and operation of proposed corridor improvements including, but not limited to, the following:
Public involvement is a critical component of the project development process and will occur throughout the planning and study phases. Public notice will be given of the time and place of all meetings and hearings. A public meeting was held in September 2014 and open houses were held in March 2016 and January 2017, it is anticipated that public hearing will be held in Spring 2018. To ensure that the full range of issues related to this proposed action is addressed and all significant issues are identified, comments and suggestions are invited from all interested parties. Such comments or questions concerning this proposed action should be directed to TxDOT at the address below.
Draft Environmental Impact Statement and Technical Reports
TxDOT Public Information Officer
600 W. I-2
Pharr, TX 78577-1231