Work on a new overpass in Robstown for U.S. Highway 77 is ongoing, but the project is part of a larger scope that is aiming to prepare Highway 77 to be part of the proposed Interstate 69.

The $11.8 million overpass project has been on the books for the Texas Department of Transportation for the past few years and was not originally part of the ongoing improvements that have been taking place along Highway 77 in recent years. The work is meant to upgrade Highway 77 to interstate standards, TxDOT officials have said.

Tom Niskala, transportation planning director for the Metropolitan Planning Organization, said similar work is being planned for Kingsville as well, with other improvements still scheduled for Driscoll.

"This is a continuation of that," he said.

Environmental work for the I-69 project is still ongoing, Niskala added, but should be completed by the end of the year.

"It all just takes time," he said. "You can't do anything without that environmental clearance."

The I-69 project has been on hold for the past two years, Niskala said, as the Attorney General's office reviews the project and Zachry Construction, which was selected to develop the interstate. The company had a reorganization in its corporate structure, which led to the AG having to ensure the project could still move forward with Zachry, he added.

"There are no fatal flaws that we're aware of," he said.

Niskala said because TxDOT is still hurting financially, due to a lack of funding, the I-69 project will likely have to be done as part of a public/private venture. That is the proposal currently in place with Zachry, he added.

"The only way we're going to see some improvements of Highway 77 to interstate standards in the near future is if it is part of a public/private venture," Niskala said.

TxDOT is also considering an I-69 Loop that would run from U.S. Route 181 in Gregory, then eventually connect to State Highway 44 and Highway 77. This would provide better access to the Port of Corpus Christi, Niskala said.