Legislation Pending to Expand I-14 through CenLA

(Press Release) June 15, 2018, Washington – Members of Congress from Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi are co-sponsoring legislation introduced Thursday 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 & Infrastructure Committee, introduced the I-14 Expansion and Improvement Act of 2018 legislation.  Joining Rep. 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.

The corridor currently runs from West Texas to the Texas-Louisiana border generally following US 190.  The first 25-mile 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 Interstate 59.  The Mississippi Transportation Commission earlier this year approved a resolution supporting the Future I-14 designation pointing to the potential for economic growth in southwest Mississippi.

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 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.

This legislation builds upon the original designation, introduced by Rep. 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,” Congressman 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, TX,  notes that the expanded I-14 corridor 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.