Congressional designation of the Interstate 14 Corridor across Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Georgia became a reality Monday with the presidential signing of the $1.2 trillion bipartisan Infrastructure bill, according to a news release by the Gulf Coast Strategic Highway Coalition.
The newly designated I-14 route runs from Midland-Odessa across Central Texas then to Alexandria, Louisiana, Laurel, Mississippi, Montgomery, Alabama, and Columbus, Georgia before terminating at Augusta, Georgia.
I-14 will be built primarily by incrementally upgrading existing highways in each of the states.
“We understand that building I-14 will require billions of dollars and many years to complete but we are on our way,” said John Thompson, chairman of the I-14 Gulf Coast Strategic Highway Coalition which has been building grassroots support for I-14 over the past decade.
“The I-14 system will improve connectivity between regions, provide freight movement efficiency, link important military facilities and strategic seaports, create a high elevation alternative for coastal sections of I-10 that are prone to flooding, and spur economic development opportunities along the 1,300 mile path,” he said.
The first sections of the I-14 corridor in Texas was approved by Congress in 2015 and a 25-mile section of freeway from Killeen/Fort Hood to I-35 in Central Texas became I-14 in 2017.
The new bill expands the Texas designation to include San Angelo and Midland-Odessa. It also includes four north-south future interstate spurs that will connect I-14 to Interstate 10 and serve the Port of Corpus Christi, the Port of Houston and the ports at Beaumont and Port Arthur. It also adds a north-south spur connecting to the Port of Gulfport, Mississippi. The designation includes a future interstate loop at Bryan-College Station designated Interstate 214.
Congressman Brian Babin of Woodville, Texas, has been carrying the I-14 legislation since entering Congress in 2015. It was successfully included in a House transportation bill passed earlier this year and became the basis of an amendment to the bipartisan infrastructure bill offered successfully in August by Senator Ted Cruz of Texas and Senator Raphael Warnock of Georgia.
The I-14 designation had the support of all 10 senators and every member of the House along the corridor.
The Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Georgia state departments of transportation all provided Congress with letters supporting the new interstate corridor.
“We must now work to win funding for planning and construction of projects on the corridor, work that must be done with Congress, the U.S. Department of Transportation and the departments of transportation in each of the states,” Thompson said.
A significant benefit of providing interstate linkage between a dozen military facilities served by the I-14 corridor is that these connections will add to the military value of each of these installations.
Among the facilities that will be better linked by I-14 are Fort Bliss at El Paso, Goodfellow AFB in San Angelo, Fort Hood at Killeen, Fort Polk in Louisiana, Camp Shelby at Hattiesburg, Kessler AFB at Biloxi, Maxwell AFB at Montgomery, Fort Benning at Columbus, Robins AFB at Macon, Fort Gordon near Augusta and Fort Stewart near Savannah.
In West Texas the I-14 corridor follows SH 158 and US 87 from Midland to San Angelo and Brady then runs east on US 190 to tie into the existing section of I-14 at Killeen.
The corridor then runs east to Bryan/College Station and Huntsville before generally following US 190 through East Texas, crossing the Sabine River on LA 8 near Fort Polk at Leesville, Louisiana.
In Louisiana the corridor generally follows LA 28 connecting Leesville, Alexandria and Vidalia. In Mississippi the corridor starts at Natchez and runs east following US 84 to Laurel. It runs concurrently on I-59 to Meridian and then generally follows US 80 to Montgomery, Alabama, Columbus, Georgia, and Fort Benning.
From there it follows existing routes to Warner Robins, Macon, Fort Gordon and Augusta. Spur routes connect to I-10 generally follow US 83, US 69 and US 96 in Texas and I-59 and US 49 in Mississippi.
This article originally appeared on San Angelo Standard-Times: Five-state I-14 designation now final with infrastructure bill