Office of the Governor Rick Perry

U.S. 96 Expansion- Jasper

*Note - Gov. Perry frequently departs from prepared remarks.
Friday, June 23, 2006  •  Speech

Thank you Commissioner Johnson.  I am honored to be here today with several locally elected officials, including Jasper County Judge Joe Folk, who has been a strong advocate of expanding U.S. 96 from Zion Hill to Jasper.

Today I am happy to announce we are widening the last two-lane section of U.S. 96 between Port Arthur and Jasper which will improve the quality of life in Southeast Texas, reduce commute times, increase travel safety and make hurricane evacuations more efficient and orderly.

When finished in 2008, travel times for Texans evacuating Jefferson, Orange, Hardin and Jasper counties will be reduced as this four and a half mile long bottleneck is eliminated.

Last fall after Hurricane Rita made landfall and wreaked havoc all across Southeast and East Texas, I visited with several local officials about critical needs for future catastrophes. 

Time and time again, local leaders told me we need to widen US 96 to safely evacuate our populations that live along and near the coast. 

Working with Beaumont District Engineer John Barton, we have elevated the importance of this project and I am proud to announce we will let the contract in July. 

The project should start in September.

We are not only widening U.S. 96 to improve travel times in Jasper County, we are dividing the highway to make it safer and prevent head-on collisions. 

This is a great day for Southeast Texas. 

No state in the nation is laying as much asphalt as Texas, as we build critically needed capacity from El Paso to Beaumont so Texans spend fewer time stuck in traffic and more time with their friends and loved ones.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Norm Mineta, who recently came to Texas before resigning Friday, said our method for financing new transportation construction is a model for the nation. 

Instead of waiting on Washington to give us the funding we need, or raising the gas tax, we are leveraging the resources of the private sector to build roads faster and sooner, allowing Texans the choice of driving roads funded by tax dollars, or new ones funded by tolls. 

We will continue to build a brighter future by aggressively pursuing transportation projects that cut commute times, enhance safety and create jobs.  Thank you.


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