• Intracoastal Waterway in Texas Designated as Marine Highway 69
The Gulf Intracoastal Waterway (GIWW) which runs parallel to the Interstate 69 highway route along the Texas Coast has been designated as Marine Highway 69 by the U.S. Department of Transportation.
Senator John Cornyn, Congressman Blake Farenthold and Congressman Filemon Vela, each representing districts on the Texas Coast that include many miles of the Interstate 69 system, were instrumental in getting the designation approved.
Marine Highway 69 links more than 20 Texas ports and in 2014 this waterway moved nearly 86 million tons of freight. That includes nationally ranked ship channels serving Houston-Baytown, Beaumont-Port Arthur and Corpus Christi.
“Redesignating the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway as the M-69 Texas Corridor brings attention to this waterway as a valuable transportation asset and as an alternative to an already overcrowded highway system,” Farenthold said.
“Working with Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx, Congressman Blake Farenthold and other members of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, we secured this important designation that will bring more opportunities to cities, counties and communities along the Gulf Coast of Texas,” Vela said. “This designation will improve and expand the efficient flow of vehicular and maritime traffic on our roads and at our water ports which in turn will help create jobs and grow our South Texas economy.”
The M-69 Marine Highway route includes the Gulf of Mexico, the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway and connecting commercial navigation channels, ports and harbors within the State of Texas. It includes 11 deepwater and 13 shallow-draft ports between Brownsville and Port Arthur.
The Texas Department of Transportation sought the federal designation. This designation allows TxDOT and Texas ports to develop projects along the waterway that will help relieve roadway congestion along the Gulf Coast by allowing more freight to be waterborne and clears the way for seeking federal grant funding. TxDOT has pursued Marine Highway status for the state’s 379-mile coastline since 2014. The M-69 portion handles 67 percent of all freight moving through the entire Gulf Intracoastal Waterway, which extends to Florida.
“By designating the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway as M-69, we acknowledge the connection between this marine highway and Interstate 69,” said Texas Transportation Commissioner Jeff Austin II. “Both M-69 and I-69 provide crucial connections to our Texas ports and are important to our state and national economies.”
M-69 joins a larger interstate network of marine routes, intersecting with M-146 and connecting with M-10 in Port Arthur, which extends and intersects with M-49 in Morgan City, Louisiana, M-55 in New Orleans, Louisiana, and M-65 in Mobile, Alabama.