U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, announced last week that the full Senate had approved the Fiscal Year 2010 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies Appropriations bill.

The measure includes $500,000 that Hutchison helped to secure for I-69. The bill will now be reconciled with the House version of the bill.

"Transportation infrastructure investments like this one for the I-69 Corridor will provide our state and nation with a vital artery for goods and services that will increase commerce and strengthen our economy," Hutchison said in a Sept. 17 prepared statement.

For more than 15 years, the I-69 Corridor has been under development and has been consistently recognized by Congress as a national transportation priority. Yet, the project's progress has been delayed considerably by the inability to get timely environmental reviews and clearances as required by federal law.

This funding will be used to ensure that federal agencies have the necessary staff to expedite the environmental reviews of projects along congressionally designated High Priority Corridors, including I-69 in Texas which is defined by statute as US 59, 77 and 281.

Without such resources, the ongoing delay of environmental clearances will continue to significantly increase the cost of construction of I-69 and other High Priority Corridors to increase.