A Strategic Transportation System Linking Military Facilities to Deployment Seaports
The Gulf Coast Strategic Highway System is being pursued to meet the 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.
The Gulf Coast Strategic Highway System including future Interstate 14 will help meet the need to move a growing amount of freight from one region to another and provide improved safety for travelers moving in and out of Central Texas. This upgraded highway infrastructure will provide economic development opportunities in portions of Texas and Louisiana, some of which have not kept up with the economic growth occurring elsewhere. The U.S. Congress officially identified the Central Texas Corridor in 2015 and designated the route generally following US 190 as Interstate 14.
Congress Designates Central Texas Corridor as Future Interstate 14
December 8, 2015
The new five-year federal transportation bill signed into law December 4, 2015, creates a congressionally designated Texas highway corridor that will be Interstate Highway 14 in the future.
The designated Central Texas Corridor begins in West Texas and generally follows US Highway 190 through Brady, Killeen, Belton, Bryan-College Station, Huntsville, Livingston, Woodville and Jasper before terminating on State Highway 63 at the Sabine River.
The I-14 corridor designation amendment was sponsored in the U.S. Senate by Texas Senator John Cornyn. It was authored and presented in the U.S. House of Representatives by Texas Congressman Brian Babin of Woodville with support from Congressman Blake Farenthold of Corpus Christi, both members of the House Transportation Committee.
"This major milestone in the improvement of transportation in Texas would not have been possible without the determined support of Senator Cornyn, Congressman Babin and Congressman Farenthold," said John Thompson, chairman of the Gulf Coast Strategic Highway Coalition.
The Strategic Highway Coalition has been working for more than a decade in support of Texas highway improvements that will improve access between major U.S. Army installations at Fort Bliss, Fort Hood and Fort Polk and the Texas strategic deployment seaports that support them – the Port of Corpus Christi and the Port of Beaumont.
Senator Cornyn said, “Our highway transportation network in Texas plays a critical role in connecting military installations and communities, and I am pleased to have worked with members of the Texas delegation to add Interstate 14 and the Central Texas Corridor to the nation’s roadmap.”
Congressman Babin said, “There is a reason this interstate already has a nickname, ‘Forts to Ports,' as it provides either direct or very close access for some of our country's most strategically important military and shipping assets. I was honored and proud to help lead this successful effort in designating the Central Texas Corridor as the first segment of what I truly believe will be America's next great highway, Interstate 14.”
In helping introduce the amendment in the House, Congressman Roger Williams of Weatherford said that the I-14 route "is important for east-west connectivity and provides an important link to military facilities, metropolitan areas and Texas' existing and future interstate system. This highway will connect two of the nation's largest military bases, Fort Bliss and Fort Hood." The I-14 designation will save travel time and create a key connector for freight movements while linking Army installations and strategic seaports, he said.
A stretch of US 190 serving the Fort Hood-Killeen area and extending approximately 25 miles west from Interstate 35 at Belton to Copperas Cove is already at interstate highway standard. It will be renamed as I-14 and added to the national interstate highway system once a technical review is completed and the new designation is approved by the Federal Highway Administration, the American Association of Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) and the Texas Transportation Commission. That process could be completed within the next year.
Thompson stressed the future importance of a new interstate that will provide a safer, more efficient route across Central Texas while providing much needed connections between I-35 at Belton, I-45 at Huntsville and future I-69 at Livingston.
A feasibility study of upgrading the US 190 corridor prepared for the Texas Department of Transportation and completed in 2012 set the stage for designation of future Interstate 14 by Congress. It recognized the benefits of a high volume east-west highway that will serve a vast section of Texas between Interstate 20 and Interstate 10. "By creating a more efficient interstate highway system in the heart of Texas, Interstate 14 will allow the state to attract more economic development and jobs," Thompson said.
He anticipates that to the extent possible the future interstate will consist of upgrades to the existing US 190 roadway and that additional studies will be needed to determine specific local routing alternatives. US 190 improvements will take place incrementally over time as funding becomes available and traffic demand grows with the state's population and freight traffic, he said.