Whenever I think of U.S. 59, I think of constant gridlock from Shepherd through the 288/I-45 interchange, the flat, treeless drive to Fort Bend County and the piney woods of east Texas in all its glory. It is a unique stretch of road that runs from Mexico well into Missouri. Oh, sure, it changes numbers here and there. It's 59/71 in Arkansas, merges with 270 in what must be a lovely drive through the Ozarks, finds itself again in Oklahoma before weaving back through the northwest corner of Arkansas and into Missouri merging with 71B. Ultimately, it peters out when it becomes I-49 just south of Carthage, birthplace of Preston Lacy of Jackass fame.
For sometime now, the famed NAFTA Superhighway has been touted as a connection point between Mexico and Canada, after you drive through nearly 3,000 miles of U.S. territory, of course. At least in Texas, we are moving ahead with the numeric change turning good old 59 into the lurid I-69, and now we have the signage to prove it.
Signs are being erected (ahem) along 28 miles of the highway between 610 West and Rosenberg. So, next time you tell someone to take 59 south to Sugar Land, you'll being giving the wrong directions. Try to contain your snickers as you tell them they need to "go down 69 to Sugar Land." It feels creepy even typing it.
"This is one small part of a much larger, critical link connecting Texans from Laredo and the Rio Grande Valley all the way up through Texarkana," said Texas Transportation Commissioner Jeff Austin III in a press release. "Interstate 69 is an essential component of our continued efforts to provide for safe, efficient travel and economic growth opportunities."
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It also leaves graffiti artists with great opportunities to come up with tongue-in-cheek (ahem) art suitable for the signs containing math's nastiest number.
"While attaining the I-69 designation for U.S. 59 in Fort Bend County is an economic benchmark, the maximum benefit for the county and Texas will not be achieved until I-69 is completed from Texarkana to Mexico," Judge Robert Hebert of Fort Bend County was quoted in a release. "We can take a moment to celebrate and then it's back to work making all of I-69 a reality."
Yes, let's get back to making 69 a reality for EVERYONE! One day, travelers will ride 69 from the tip of Texas's toes to the top of America's head -- and the reverse. People will drive themselves along its undulating curves and feel the constant pulse of its unyielding traffic. Sorry, what were we talking about again?