FHWA breaks ground on State Highway 550 project

Federal Highway Deputy Administrator (FHWA) Greg Nadeau joined state, local and other federal officials on Aug. 5 to break ground on the State Highway 550 project in Brownsville, Texas, that includes the construction of a new toll road using $34 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act dollars.

“In addition to strengthening the economy and putting people to work, the Recovery Act is helping improve commerce in areas that are important to international trade,” U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said in a written press statement.

The new highway will create an alternate route between the Port of Brownsville and Olmito in the Rio Grande Valley region. Ultimately, SH 550 will extend along the center of FM 511 from US 77/ US 83 to SH 48 for the length of 10 miles as a divided limited-access road with two new truck tolled lanes. Recovery Act funds are going toward a 3.9 mile spur section of the project, which will improve safety and relieve congestion by removing trucks from local roads.

“Freight transport by truck represents 80 percent of imports and exports with Mexico,” Deputy Administrator Nadeau said. “Recovery Act money will help improve the efficiency of that freight movement to strengthen the entire regional economy and improve safety for all travelers. This investment is good for the economy and the area’s quality of life.”

State Highway 550 will provide a new entry point for truck traffic to the Port of Brownsville and will be key to the region’s development as it grows to become a major center of international trade.

The project is a collaborative effort between the Texas Department of Transportation and the Cameron County Regional Mobility Authority.

“The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act continues to drive our country and the economy on the correct side of the lane,” U.S. Representative Solomon P. Ortiz said. “The $34 million made available to South Texas will help create jobs locally while spurring growth of our federal highway system. I foresee a smooth ride for South Texas.”

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Of the $26.6 billion in Federal Highway Recovery Act dollars available nationwide, Texas’ share is $2.25 billion, second only to California. The state’s total share has gone towards 486 projects with 265 under way and 159 completed.