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 future Interstate 14.
State Advances Designation of First Section of Interstate 14 in Bell County
April 28, 2016
AUSTIN - The Texas Transportation Commission has taken the next major step in making the first section of Interstate 14 a reality in Central Texas.
The commission voted at their April meeting to submit an application that is part of a multi-step process that will lead to designation of an existing 25-mile stretch of US 190 freeway in Bell County as I-14. The highway section from Copperas Cove and Fort Hood east to I-35 in Belton has been undergoing upgrades in recent years and additional widening projects are planned.
The commission is petitioning the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) to include the segment of US 190 as part of the national Interstate Highway System as I-14.
Separately, the Texas Department of Transportation is working with the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) to review elements of the existing highway to confirm they meet interstate highway design standards. That review is expected to be complete later this year. Once authorized by FHWA, the final designation can be approved by the Texas Transportation Commission and I-14 signs can be added to the highway and to directional signage on Interstate 35 and other intersecting roadways.
Roger Beall, TxDOT's corridor planning branch manager, said a department assessment found the 25-mile section is at interstate standard. The Killeen-Temple Metropolitan Planning Organization has adopted a resolution supporting adding the section to the interstate system.
The federal highway bill approved by Congress last year designated the Central Texas Corridor and established it as future Interstate 14. The congressionally designated corridor generally follows the route of US 190 across the state running from I-10 in West Texas to Fort Hood at Killeen and east through Belton, Bryan/College Station, Huntsville, Livingston, Woodville and Jasper before terminating at the Sabine River near Fort Polk.
John Thompson, former county judge of Polk County and chairman of the Gulf Coast Strategic Highway Coalition, said, "We want to thank the Transportation Commission for being our partner in this effort to make Interstate 14 across Texas a reality. We look forward to continuing to work together on planning, funding and constructing additional upgraded sections of the entire Strategic Highway System which will eventually provide improved connections to I-35, I-45, I-69, I-37, I-10 and I-20."
Major Gen. Kendall Cox, U.S. Army (ret), executive director of the Heart of Texas Defense Alliance supporting Fort Hood, said that the future interstate and other improvements supported by the Gulf Coast Strategic Highway Coalition to connect Army facilities to strategic seaports will create additional military value that is essential to the continued viability of the state's military installations.
Transportation Commission Member Jeff Austin III congratulated the Strategic Highway Coalition for winning congressional designation of future Interstate 14. Austin observed that I-14 will someday be a great east-west route connecting Fort Polk, Fort Hood and Fort Bliss. He noted that much of the Central Texas Corridor is today only a two-lane highway that will need to be upgraded incrementally. He cautioned against "false expectations," observing that as upgrades are made to US 190 they may not bring those sections all the way to interstate standard in initial projects.
"But we have got to start somewhere and a lot of effort will be needed," he said. Austin expects TxDOT to be in a position to put up "Future I-14" signs along the corridor before long.
Commission Member Jeff Moseley thanked Judge Thompson for his years of leadership and called the I-14 Central Texas Corridor initiative exciting. He noted that several people have stressed to him that an important benefit of upgrading the US 190/I-14 corridor will be the addition of needed evacuation route capacity when Southeast Texas and the Houston area face an approaching hurricane.