Texas business and political leaders are sending out a serious "heads up" to cities and towns on the major highways that go to and from the Gulf Coast, and, for once, it has nothing to do with hurricanes.

They say the massive expansion of the Panama Canal that's now underway is going to double the canal's ship traffic when it's completed in 2014.  Why is this of any concern in Texas?


via GlobalSecurity.org

Texas Department of Transportation officials say this means there will be a significant increase in the number of ships and the amount of freight coming into Texas ports, and this will cause a corresponding increase in truck traffic on Texas highways.

In other words, if you think the truck traffic on the Interstates and other major highways is heavy now, you ain't seen nothin' yet.

Officials say the ports in Houston and Corpus Christi are not expected to be the go-to choice for the really big ships carrying goods from China and the far east. At least not right away. Los Angeles is now the number one port for Asian cargoes, but the experts say that port will eventually reach capacity, and Texas can expect to get a lot of the overflow.

This is why TxDot has created the Panama Canal Stakeholder Working Group made up of concerned groups like the Texas Association of Manufacturers, Texas Port Association and the Texas Farm Bureau.  This group's mission is to produce a plan for dealing with increased truck traffic and have it in place by the time it's needed.

via Panama Canal Expansion to Increase Traffic in Texas | KUT.org.

Oh joy. More trucks on Hwy 59 and the Loop 287.  Hwy 59 truck traffic is already as heavy as it is on most Interstates.  That's why TxDot is already busy turning Hwy 59 into Interstate Hwy 69, but that work is far from complete.  From where we sit here in Lufkin, we think TxDot should kick that work into a higher gear ASAP.