Move over Route 66, IH-10 and IH-20! There’s going to be another highway going east and west.
During his February 28, 2017 address to a joint session of Congress, President Donald J. Trump reminded Americans that “Dwight D. Eisenhower initiated the last truly great national infrastructure program – the building of the interstate highway system. The time has come for a new program of national rebuilding.”
A new major highway is designated to be Interstate 14 (I-14) and initially will reach from the eastern coast of the U.S. towards the great west. I-14 is also referred to as the “14th Amendment Highway”, the “Gulf Coast Strategic Highway,” and the in the Lone Star State, the “Central Texas Corridor.” It is named for the 14th Amendment.
“To launch our national rebuilding, I will be asking the Congress to approve legislation that produces a one trillion investment in the infrastructure of the United States – financed through both public and private capital, creating millions of new jobs,” Trump said, who proclaimed the projects would be guided by two principles: “Buy American, and Hire American.”
By March the President directed his Administration to plan for $1 trillion in infrastructure spending by insisting that states streamline their local permitting, favoring renovation of existing roads and highways over new construction and prioritize work than can quickly begin construction.
“We’re not going to give the money to states unless they can prove that they can be ready, willing and able to start the project,” President Trump said in the White House.
Texas had a jump on the plan with the January approval of work on a 25-mile segment of I-14 in the Fort Hood area between Copperas Cove and Belton.
The Texas Transportation Commission and Texas Department of Transportation, through TxDOT Deputy Executive Director Marc Williams statement, said “As envisioned, the proposed I-14 corridor would improve access and connections to military installations along the US 190 corridor, as well as provide a critical artery for commerce, that ultimately would stretch from west Texas to the Texas-Louisiana border.”
With thousands of newcomers arriving in Texas each day, I-14 also will help accommodate and increase mobility of the state’s growing population.
“I applaud the Texas Department of Transportation in taking the first step in making Interstate 14 a reality through Texas,” said U.S. Rep. John R. Carter. “I have fought long and hard to ensure we have the best transportation system throughout central Texas to provide the foundation for continued economic growth and development that creates jobs. An interstate highway that connects our military at Fort Hood with the broader interstate system will better facilitate the logistical needs of the largest armored base in America. This is a day to celebrate the beginning of a bright future in meeting our transportation needs.”
The I-14 corridor is a strategic project providing a national strategic link to numerous major military bases and major Gulf Coast and Atlantic ports used for overseas deployments in six states from Texas to South Carolina. Congressman Brian Babin of East Texas said he believes I-14 can be an example to the nation of Congress getting something right when it comes to transportation. Congressman Babin is a member of the U.S. House Transportation Committee and was the House sponsor of the I-14 designation language. Senator John Cornyn sponsored the effort in the U.S. Senate.
James Beauchamp, president of the Midland-Odessa Transportation Alliance, explained that the Permian Basin is responsible for more than 50% of the oil produced in Texas and that the Texas Railroad Commission estimates there are roughly 500 years of recoverable oil and gas resources in the region.
“Our region is growing but we are isolated. That is why these highway connections are so important to us,” he said. He emphasized the beneficial value of improved highway connections between the Permian Basin and the frac sand mines in McCulloch County and the oil refineries and export terminals at the Port of Corpus Christi.
Roland Pena, economic development director for the City of San Angelo, also pointed to long-term energy development in West Texas and the importance of transportation in serving energy industry growth.
The system will meet military transportation needs of U.S. Army facilities in Texas and Louisiana and connect them with Strategic Deployment seaports — the Port of Corpus Christi and the Port of Beaumont. That includes Fort Hood, Fort Polk and Fort Bliss.
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