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The Texas Transportation Commission met in Corpus Christi on July 26, 2012 and approved the Hidalgo County Regional Mobility Authority’s (HCRMA) request to terminate the Pass-Through Agreements for the State Highway 365 and US 281 Military Highway Overpass project. This action was necessary to allow for the HCRMA to proceed in negotiating an Advance Funding Agreement (AFA) with the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) for $112 million in funding for SH 365 and US 281. The proposed AFA gives the HCRMA greater flexibility than the Pass-Through Agreements if additional funding is secured for the projects. It is anticipated that the AFA will be considered by the Texas Transportation Commission at its August 2012 meeting.
Hidalgo County Judge Ramon Garcia and HCRMA Chairman Dennis Burleson attended the Commission meeting and spoke in favor of the items. Garcia thanked the Commission for their support, emphasizing the need for transportation in our area. Garcia noted that Hidalgo County will continue to work as a region with our friends in neighboring counties, and looks forward to officially begin designating parts of Highways 77, 281, and Expressway 83 as interstates in the near future. The commission unanimously approved the items.
After the Commission Meeting, members of the 281 Coalition met to discuss the continued improvements of US 281 to interstate standards. Members of the coalition in attendance were Hidalgo County Judge Ramon Garcia, Brooks County Judge Raul Ramirez, Live Oak County Judge Jim Huff, Edinburg City Manager Ramiro Garza, HCRMA Chairman Dennis Burleson, HCRMA Executive Director Pilar Rodriguez, Keith Patridge McAllen EDC Director, Hidalgo County MPO Director Andrew Canon, McAllen Government Affairs Officer Teclo Garcia, Bobby Villarreal from Hidalgo County Judge's Office, and Marcos Lopez from Hidalgo County Pct 4.
At the 281 Coalition meeting, items of discussion included the completion of overpasses in Encino, Falfurrias, Ben Bolt, and Premont, as well as improvements in the George West area. The Coalition’s goal is to have free flowing movement of goods through US 281 North and to have the entire segment from the Rio Grande Valley to George West up to interstate standards, which encourages and entices more business to relocate along the corridor knowing that they can move their goods in a timely manner.
The next meeting of the Hidalgo County RMA is scheduled at 5:30 pm on August 15, 2012 at Pharr City Hall (118 S. Cage Blvd, Pharr).