US 69 Corridor - Gateway to the Big Thicket Segment
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US 69 Corridor - Gateway to the Big Thicket Segment

This US 69 Corridor segment is between FM 1943 near Warren and FM 1003 in Kountze and is known as the "US 69 Gateway to the Big Thicket." The public is encouraged to visit the US 69 Corridor project page for more background about other potential segment areas in the Beaumont District area.

Project benefits

The approved construction project is anticipated to improve safety and mobility along US 69 during emergency evacuations by reducing the number of conflict points and providing better access.

Project improvements

The approved construction project includes the following improvements:

  • Widen and improve US 69 from FM 1943 (near Warren) to FM 1003 (north of Kountze) in Hardin and Tyler Counties to a four-lane, divided roadway with shoulders, an evacuation lane on the northbound lanes, and a median - the existing roadway includes a two-lane, undivided roadway with shoulders and no median
  • Design the roadway to add two 12-foot travel lanes in each direction
  • Design the roadway to include four-foot inside shoulders, a 10-foot outside shoulder on the southbound lanes and a 12-foot outside shoulder on the northbound lanes that serves as a hurricane evacuation lane. Hurricane evacuation lanes are roadway shoulders that may be used as travel lanes during times of significant congestion such as during mandatory evacuations

The project would also extend the existing 10-foot hike-and-bike trail along the entire length of the project limits, in an effort to improve potential connectivity to the existing hike-and-bike trails within the Big Thicket National Preserve. Three new trailheads and one new parking area would also be constructed. The proposed project would incorporate Context Sensitive Solutions improving awareness of the surrounding resources by use of monument signage to identify local amenities such as Big Thicket National Preserve and John Henry Kirby State Forest. Public input from the open house, public hearing and interactive online survey have been considered and incorporated into the project design where appropriate.

The existing right of way width is typically 100 feet wide but varies up to 120 feet wide in limited locations. The approved project would require the acquisition of up to 200 feet of right of way, resulting in a new typical right-of-way width of 300 feet and the possible displacements of one commercial and five residential structures. Please review the landowner's rights publications, which contains more information about the TxDOT Relocation Assistance Program concerning services and benefits for displaced persons and businesses if needed.

Summary of key project changes

Since the Final Environmental Assessment was issued, TxDOT will make the following project changes:

  • Enhance the landscaping and add signage at Village Creek in lieu of an aesthetic bridge feature due to funding
  • Provide a standard trail bridge in lieu of an arched trail bridge, due to rising material costs
  • Provide nine monuments at key locations to communicate the significance of the US 69 corridor; quantity and size of monuments have been reduced given rising material costs
    • Clear the median and portions of the right of way removing trees and shrubbery in keeping with the revised TxDOT Design Manual to clear obstacles in the right of way, such as landscaping; in addition:
    • TxDOT will clear the median and portions of the right of way removing trees and shrubbery 
    • TxDOT recommends a roadside free of unyielding obstacles including landscaping for increased safety and reduce the extent of damage and injury of single vehicle, run-off-the-road crashes
  • Replacing vegetation disturbed by construction with native grasses and reducing the amount of tree and shrubbery removal up to a 40-foot clearance on both sides of the roadway as well as the median; this includes:
    • Native grasses and shrubs:
      • For clay soils: TxDOT will use a mix of Blackwell Switchgrass, Cheyenne Indiangrass, Earl Big Bluestem, Lavaca Canada Wildrye, Medina Eastern Gamagrass, Ok Select Germplasm Little BluestemIs, Santiago Germplasm Silver Bluestem, Welder Germplasm Shortspike Windmillgrass, Aztec Maximilian Sunflower and Sabine Illinois Bundleflower.
      • For sandy soils, TxDOT will usea mix of Blackwell Switchgrass, Cheyenne Indiangrass, Duval Germplasm Red Lovegrass, Lavaca Canada Wildrye, Mason Sand Lovegrass, Nueces Germplasm Sand Dropseed, Ok Select Germplasm Little Bluestem, Santiago Germplasm Silver Bluestem, Aztec Maximilian Sunflower, Comanche Partridge Pea
      • Pollinators are included in these mixes. Pink Muhly Grass and Dwarf Palmettos will also be added.
  • Leaving a vegetative buffer around creeks in locations where bridges will be built
  • Planting an additional 14.3 acres of trees throughout the project; the location of these will be determined at a later date and by partnering with representatives from stakeholder groups and the species to be added include: American Holly, Southern Magnolia, Sweet Bay Magnolia, Long Leaf Pine, Loblolly Pine, White Oak, Southern Red Oak, Laurel Oak, Overcup Oak, Water Oak, Bald Cypress, Allegheny Chinquapin, Possumhaw, Yaupon Holly, Sweetgum, Wax Myrtle, Short Leaf Pine, Sycamore and Winged Elm
  • Adding lighting at the kayak launch at Village Creek, as well as aesthetic features including columns with a treelike pattern and a feature to the bent caps depicting the ivory-billed woodpecker
  • Changing monument aesthetic features from  a rock-like to a wooden pattern appearance 
  • Moving dynamic message signs  to locations where it will not be necessary to remove existing vegetation
  • Exploring the possibility of installing additional parking spaces for access to the hike and bike trail

Next steps

  • Complete environmental review - fall 2021
  • Clearing utility relocation corridor - fall 2022
  • Finalize design and construction plans - early 2023
  • Complete right-of-way acquisition - early 2024
  • Anticipated construction begins - early 2024
  • Construction complete - estimated end of 2026

Get involved

The public may subscribe for study updates, check the Beaumont District Twitter page and contact the Beaumont District Office with questions.