AUSTIN — In an effort to enhance mobility and attract international commerce to the growing Rio Grande Valley, the Texas Department of Transportation with approval from the Texas Transportation Commission today officially designated 67 miles of regional roadways as part of the new Interstate 69.

The designation means drivers will now see sections of US 77 and US 281 with I-69 highway signs. Being developed on existing roadways as a critical artery for moving freight, I-69 will ultimately become a 1,600-mile-long highway stretching from Michigan to Texas.

“This marks a milestone for Texas, especially South Texas, as the signs unveiled today symbolize growth, connectivity and economic development for a critical region of our great state,” said Texas Transportation Commissioner Jeff Austin. “The Rio Grande Valley has experienced tremendous growth over the past three decades and we’re pleased to take this important step toward safely mobilizing a growing population while nurturing the economic prosperity of this hub for international trade.”

With more than 1 million people living in the Valley and approximately 1,000 newcomers arriving in Texas each day, the I-69 corridor also will help accommodate the state’s growing population.

“As the booming population of Texas continues to add more vehicles to our roads, we must find ways to keep motorists moving safely and efficiently,” said TxDOT Executive Director Phil Wilson. “An interstate designation carries the highest design standard of any class of highway, so we are proud to have more miles of I-69 added to the map of Texas.”

In total, 67 miles of Rio Grande Valley roadways will now be marked with I-69 interstate highway signs. A 53-mile stretch of US 77 will now be designated as I-69E from the junction of Business 77 north of Raymondville to just north of the U.S./Mexico border. A 14-mile length of US 281 will be designated as I-69C from the junction of FM 2812 in Edinburg to US 83 in Pharr.