ODEM, Texas — On Thursday, the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) held an open house for a planning study involving US 77.
This is part of the state's effort to extend I-69 East, north of Corpus Christi.
Area residents of Odem ventured to the junior high school to see how TxDOT could plan to upgrade US 77. The planning study hopes to identify if upgrades are needed, community feedback and what options might there be to make changes.
If you've ever driven into Odem, you noticed a big complaint of Odem residents.
“Traveling is unbearable on weekends,” Odem resident Alfredo Martinez said, .
TxDOT showed residents three options they've come up with to possible address this.
Option "A" uses a portion of US 77 from I-37 to Odem, but then goes around Odem, up to FM 1945.
Option "B" would create a new highway from further north on I-37, and also go around Odem, up to FM 1945.
Option "C" would begin near Edroy on I-37 and bypass Odem all together and continue on the current US 77 north of Odem.
“I don’t want to see them go way north and Odem’s down here isolated. So, I hope they take one of the "A" or "B" route,” Keith Ewing said.
Ewing is from Calallen, but owns a ranch near Odem. From the looks of the options, he said "A" or "B" would run through his property.
“Yeah that’s fine. Like I said, "C" is going to kill Odem, I would think,” he said.
“To me the one that makes more sense is what they label as "C." To me it’s the most convenient for everybody, less disruptive for our community,” Martinez said.
On the other hand, there are many people that are unhappy about the options given.
Although they declined an interview, they said they think the project will displace people from their homes, impede Odem’s development or interfere with farmers business.
According to documents posted at the Open House, Option "A" would cost $620 million, Option "B" would cost $728 million and Option "C" would cost $755 million.
TxDOT is accepting community input until April 28 in person at the district office or by mail:
Attn: Gabriel Longoria, P.E., 1701 S. Padre Island Drive, Corpus Christi, Texas 78416.
This is the first stage of a potential project and no decisions have been made at this point. TxDOT documents show the next step would be an environmental study, but the overall project could take eight to 12 years.
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