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The Texas Department of Transportation has concluded a study of where to route Interstate 369 in Cass and Bowie counties, concluding that upgrading U.S. Highway 59 is the best option.

The TxDOT report can be found here.

TxDOT found that improving U.S. 59 to interstate standards would be the best way to achieve priorities expressed by the public during a pair of open houses in July. Public comments and surveys showed a consensus to optimize the use of existing roads while minimizing the effects of construction, according to the study report.

"Consequently, without new information or further public involvement, TxDOT recommends moving forward with utilizing and upgrading the existing US 59 corridor as much as possible to meet interstate standards," the study report states.

Construction of most of I-369 is in the planning and development stage, though a segment of highway between U.S. 59 and Interstate 30 in Texarkana has already been designated I-369. Once complete, I-369 will connect the future Interstate 69 in Shelby County to Texarkana.

Further study will look at the cost-effectiveness of elevating a segment of the U.S 59 upgrade between I-369 and County Road 1325/Rock School Road.

Advantages of the elevated upgrade option include that it would have few environmental effects and accommodate mobility of local traffic. Drawbacks include substantial traffic delays during construction and high cost.

Next steps include conducting a formal environmental study, developing more detailed plans and providing further opportunity for public involvement, none of which has yet been funded, said Marcus Sandifer, public information officer for TxDOT's Atlanta District.

"This process is expected to take three to four years once it begins, but no funding has yet been identified to move forward," he said in an email introducing the study report.

Planning for other highway construction based on the eventual presence of I-369 is under way.

In May, the Northeast Texas Regional Mobility Authority announced it would study the feasibility of building a spur from the future I-369 in Bowie County west and north through Red River Army Depot and TexAmericas Center to I-30.

Regional Mobility Authorities are transportation agencies in Texas meant to give local governments more control over planning and project construction. One or more counties may form an RMA. The state legislature first authorized RMAs in 2001.

NET RMA formed in 2004, and Bowie County joined in 2007. NET RMA's 12 counties are Bowie, Cherokee, Gregg, Harrison, Kaufman, Panola, Rusk, Smith, Titus, Upshur, Van Zandt and Wood.

NET RMA collects revenues from a toll road around Tyler, Texas, called Toll 49, and those revenues funded the feasibility study.

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