“We have achieved another milestone on the journey to make I-14 and the Gulf Coast Strategic Highway System a reality connecting communities across three states,” said Don Rodman with the I-14/Gulf Coast Strategic Highway Coalition.
Members of Congress from Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi are co-sponsoring legislation introduced June 14 to expand the congressionally designated I-14 corridor across the three states.
U.S. Rep. Brian Babin (TX-36), a member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, introduced the I-14 Expansion and Improvement Act of 2018 legislation.
Joining Babin as original cosponsors of the bill are Reps. Mike Conaway (TX-11), John Carter (TX-31), Roger Williams (TX-25), Kevin Brady (TX-8), Mike Johnson (LA-4), Ralph Abraham (LA-5), and Gregg Harper (MS-3). Other co-sponsors are expected to join this week.
The corridor currently runs from West Texas to the Texas-Louisiana border generally following US-190. The first section of I-14 from Killeen and Fort Hood to I-35 at Belton was added to the Interstate Highway System in 2017.
The proposed legislation would extend the corridor eastward following highways LA-8, LA-28 and US-84 in Louisiana through Leesville, Fort Polk, Alexandria, Pineville and Vidalia where it would cross the Mississippi River.
In Mississippi, it would follow US-84 eastward from Natchez to Brookhaven and then to Laurel where it would terminate at I-59.
In Texas, the corridor would be expanded to the west so that it will serve San Angelo, Goodfellow Air Force Base, Midland-Odessa and the Permian Basin.
At Midland-Odessa, the corridor will connect to I-20 which runs westward to join with I-10 and leads to El Paso and Fort Bliss, completing the linkage between six military facilities across three states.
Spur routes in Texas would extend southward to provide better access to the strategic military seaports at Corpus Christi and Beaumont.
This will enhance military readiness and efficiency as envisioned by President Dwight D. Eisenhower when he first commissioned America’s interstate highway system in 1956.
This legislation builds upon the original designation, introduced by Babin as part of the 2015 FAST Act highway bill, of the Central Texas Corridor as the future I-14, and does not eliminate any currently authorized routes. It also authorizes the new interstate route using the general pattern of existing roads and highways, but leaves the final determination about the exact path of the route with state officials and local communities.
“One of President Eisenhower’s top priorities and greatest accomplishments was the construction of an interstate highway system that connects America’s military assets, businesses, and communities from coast to coast. The legislation we introduced today is a complement to that legacy.
I-14 is known as the ‘Forts to Ports’ highway, and we are building on that success with further improvements,” Babin said.
“It will finally give countless communities access to the benefits of an interstate highway, with a design and implementation process run by state and local transportation authorities,” he said.
The Gulf Coast Strategic Highway Coalition has supported incremental improvements to highways in the corridor for two decades. Coalition Chairman John Thompson, former County Judge of Polk County, Texas, notes the expanded corridor stretching from the oil fields of the Permian Basin to the forests of eastern Mississippi will provide greater efficiency in the movement of freight in each of the three states and nationally.
The legislation – HR 6111 -- has been referred to the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, where Chairman Bill Shuster (R-PA) has announced plans for legislation to expand and improve highways and infrastructure.