Transforming U.S. 59 to I-69 in Wharton County begins in earnest next month with the state seeking bids on a new FM 1301 segment linking with the main highway.
An additional three efforts will follow in the immediate area during a nine-year window, completing in 2030.
Texas Department of Transportation Yoakum District official Clay Harris, formerly the El Campo city public works director, says the work won’t change the total number of Wharton exits, but will improve traffic flow while keeping up with anticipated county growth.
Harris spoke Thursday during a Wharton Chamber of Commerce & Agriculture Business Breakfast.
The plan is to convert the existing lanes of U.S. 59 to controlled access by eliminating cross overs and providing continuous frontage roads.
All six current underpasses in the Wharton area will be converted to overpasses in addition to rebuilding the existing seven overpasses to raise height.
“Typical sections” that are proposed to convert U.S. 59 to I-69 include main lanes being six 12-foot lanes (three in each north and south direction), and construction of 12-foot inside shoulders and 12-foot outside shoulders.
Frontage roads will improve to four 12-foot travel lanes (two in each south and north directions), and construction of four-foot shoulders and 10-foot outside shoulders.
Roadside ditches will also be considered for improvement.
The first Wharton County segment of I-69 construction began in March 2020 from the San Bernard River to the county line.
The second segment will include construction inside the Wharton city limits, including a new FM 1301 that will cross with I-69.
“This will have the biggest impact on the Wharton community,” Harris said.
TxDOT will let the project on Sept. 23 and it will take around three years to complete.
The FM 102 southbound exit as it exists now will be removed and replaced with an exit further north.