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Mayor gives presentation on I-69's potential for Marshall

During Thursday's regular commission meeting, Mayor Larry Hurta gave a presentation to the commission regarding the Interstate 69 annual meeting, where he represented Marshall on the I-69 board of directors. Harrison County Judge Hugh Taylor serves as chair of the board.

Hurta said he believed a relief route for I-69, designed to alleviate excess traffic in lower port cities, offered a great opportunity for Marshall.

"Fifty percent of all traffic that comes across the Mexico border comes through along I-69; 40 percent of all trucks that travel back to Canada along the US go back through Michigan ... 13 percent of the gross domestic product of the United States is going through ports where Corpus Christi is, Houston and Loredo," He said. "That will increase by 35 percent in the next 10 years In the next 30 to 40 years it will increase 100 percent.

"The planned relief route for I-69 happens to come through our city," Hurta added. "This has the most potential, in my estimation, for economic impact than maybe we have had the opportunity for in the past 40 to 50 years. This is happening because of a staggering amount of traffic … there has been a large grassroots effort on state and fed level to make I-69 a reality."

Hurta said half of I-69's entire route is built or in process of schematics and mapping. He said if the plan comes to fruition, I-59 would become I-69. In order to become apart of I-69, I-59 will need to be made to touch I-20 and built to interstate standards, including the creation of 12-foot lanes and feeder roads.

"Marshall will be a spur off of the I-69 corridor," Hurta said, adding all of the traffic going north toward Arkansas and Oklahoma would travel on the Marshall spur. "Our hope is that TxDOT will approve this route."

The Commission also approved the Marshall Fire Department's request to donate Engine 4 to Elysian Fields in a 6 to 1 vote, with Commissioner District 4 William "Doc" Halliday voting against.

MFD Chief Reggie Cooper reported the engine had been taken out of service by the fire department and been replaced by another engine in 2017.

"We've had some interest in the truck," Cooper said. "But we look to EF as the department that needs it the most. It's useless to us but will be very useful to them."

Commissioner District 7 Doug Lewis asked how much the city could gain from auctioning off the engine. Cooper estimated the city would stand to gain approximately $3,000.

"I'm against this," Halliday said. "We're already subsidizing the ESDs. We are on a limited budget also."

Commissioner District 2 Gail Beil said the Animal Shelter Committee was looking at ways to best utilize the space of the proposed facility in order to triple the number of animals held in order to reduce the amount killed. Beil also said the cost for the facility was still unknown, but when the amount was tallied she suggested a blend of city and private money be used to help pay for it.

City Manager Lisa Agnor said donations had continued to come in for Memorial City Hall.

"We currently have $225,000 in donations," Agnor said. "While the pace has slowed some, the interest is still there and people are still calling."

To see this article in its original format in the Marshall News Messenger, click here.