The “Forts to Ports” bill was reintroduced in Congress recently, aimed at expanding Interstate 14 to run near several military installations in Texas and other states.
The goals is to give military vehicles from installations in Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi better and faster access to Texas seaports.
The I-14 Expansion and Improvement Act of 2019, often referred to as the Forts to Ports bill, was reintroduced last Wednesday to extend the future I-14 interstate highway to additional areas in Texas and along the Gulf Coast, according to an April 10 statement by U.S. Rep. Roger Williams, R-Austin, one of the bill’s cosponsors. The bill will further connect key military installations such as Fort Hood to strategic seaports, enhancing readiness as well as American national security, he said.
“Interstate 14 not only represents the future of mobility in Texas, but the future of security for our country,” said Williams. “The Forts to Ports project is essential to better preparing for the defense of our nation and shows America’s commitment to defending freedom around the world. The improvements this project will make will significantly enhance Fort Hood’s ability to meet our national security objectives. I am proud to once again cosponsor the I-14 Expansion and Improvement Act.”
The legislation builds upon the original designation of I-14 in Central Texas — approved by Congress in 2015 — and does not eliminate any currently authorized routes, according to the statement. The legislation would expand the corridor west in Texas to the intersection of I-10 and I-20 near Midland/Odessa and east to I-59 in Mississippi, connecting installations from Fort Bliss in El Paso — with easy access to I-14 via I-10 — to Camp Shelby in Mississippi to the Texas ports of Beaumont and Corpus Christi. North and south feeder roads would still need to be improved.
The bill authorizes most of the new interstate route using the general pattern of existing roads and highways, while leaving the final determination about the exact interstate path up to state and local officials.
The I-14 corridor currently runs to the Texas-Louisiana border generally following U.S. Highway 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, according to the Gulf Coast Strategic Highway Coalition website. For the last 20 years, the coalition has been the primary force behind the interstate system.
The proposed legislation would extend the current 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.
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