Interstate 169 overlays the westernmost 4.41 miles of SH 550, an 11.69 mile long toll road linking IH 69E/U.S. 77-83 in north Brownsville with SH 48 and the Port of Brownsville. Known as The Gap I and Gap II projects, construction along the two remaining portions of SH 550 kicked off in Winter 2016. Work finishes the expressway mainline between the companion frontage roads.5 The Gap I project was completed in June 2018. The Gap II project completes SH 550 from a point 0.2 miles south of FM 1847 to a point 1.13 miles south of the Union Pacific Railroad. Letting for construction of the estimated $21,072,00 million project was September 2021.
A group of Texas dignitaries gathered at the intersection of Baker Lane and Frontage Road by the SH 550 toll road to unveil the first sign for Interstate 169 on February 16, 2016.6 When the entire toll road is completed, SH 550 will be resigned as IH 169. Until that time, IH 169 is partially signed, sometimes as SH 169.
The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) approved the establishment of Interstate 169 at the Route Numbering Committee Meeting held on May 15, 2015. The U.S. Department of Transportation followed on November 5, 2015,5 and the Texas Transportation Commission approved 1.5 miles of IH 169 at their meeting on December 17, 2015. Managed by the Cameron County Regional Mobility Authority, SH 550 was developed to improve access to the Port of Brownsville and associated industrial areas to the east of Brownsville. The toll road overlays the route of FM 551.
The initial 1.9 mile long segment of the toll road opened on March 10, 2011 with new travel lanes and overpasses above FM 1847 (Paredes Line Road) and a Union Pacific Railroad line. This section of infrastructure cost $10 million and was untolled until May 10, 2011.1
Work continued on the second phase of SH 550, a 3.01 mile long stretch named the Port Spur. The $34 million project constructed new roadway from FM 3248 southeast to SH 48 (Brownsville-Port Isabel Highway) and a new main entrance to the Port of Brownsville. A ribbon cutting ceremony was held for the Port Spur on May 29, 2013.1,3 The SH 550 Port of Brownsville entrance opened following another ribbon cutting event held on February 19, 2014.4
Phase three of SH 550 consists of building the remaining portions of the expressway mainline and their companion frontage road system. This includes work to build a high speed interchange with IH 69E/U.S. 77-83.1 $44 million in construction on phase three commenced in March 2013, with direct connectivity between IH 69E and the Port established in January 2015.2
AASHTO conditionally approved a 0.4 mile extension of IH 169 east from FM 1847 (Old Alice Road) to the limits of access control on May 21, 2019.