WASHINGTON, D.C. - Members of Congress from Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi are co-sponsoring legislation introduced June 14 to expand the congressionally designated Interstate 14 corridor across the three states.
U.S. Rep. Brian Babin (TX-36), a member of the House Transportation and Infrastruction Committee, introduced the I-14 Expansion and Improvement Act of 2018 bill with co-sponsors Rep. Mike Conaway (TX-11), Rep. John Carter (TX-31), Rep. Roger Williams (TX-25), Rep. Kevin Brady (TX-8), Rep. Mike Johnson (LA-4), Rep. Ralph Abraham (LA-5), and Rep. 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.
legislation would extend
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 Interstate 59.
In Texas, the corridor would be expanded west so it seves San Angelo, Goodfellow Air Force Base, Midland-Odessa and the Permian Basin. At Midland-Odessa the corridor will connect to Interstate 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.
Fort Polk Progress President Michael Reese was in Washington D.C. for the introduction of the bill.
"This legislation will make Fort Polk more accessible and strengthen its connections to other military installations in Texas and Mississippi," Reese said. "This allows for more opportunities for growth, collaboration and military readiness across the military bases in these states."
Reese expressed his appreciation for the Louisiana congressmen co-sponsoring the bill.
"We're grateful for Congressman Johnson and Congressman Abraham's support and efforts toward moving this bill forward," Reese said. "With their help, this expansion will hopefully become a reality in the near future."
In the meantime, Reese stressed the importance of planning for this future infrastructure.
"It's important for communities along the proposed interstate expansion to prepare for the potential impact it will have," Reese said. "The possible benefits of this expansion are truly endless."
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," Babin said. "The legislation we introduced 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 the proposed expansion will give countless communities access to the benefits of an interstate highway, with a design and implementation process run by state and local transportation authorities.
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, TX, notes that 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.
to view this map of the current and proposed I-14 route designations.