Texas leaders made the following statement after reintroducing I-14 Expansion and Improvement Act of 2019 today. This legislation, also referred to as the "Forts to Ports" bill, will extend the future I-14 interstate highway to additional areas in Texas and along the Gulf Coast. This bill will further connect key military installations to strategic seaports, enhancing their readiness as well as America's national security.
The I-14 Expansion and Improvement Act of 2019 builds upon the original designation of the Central Texas Corridor as the future I-14, and does not eliminate any currently authorized routes. This bill authorizes most of this 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 who know their communities best. Many provisions of the 2015 FAST Act are scheduled to expire starting next year, which will likely require passage of a new, comprehensive surface transportation bill during the 116th Congress (2019-2020). The expected consideration of this next "Highway Bill" presents an ideal opportunity to ultimately get this I-14 language signed into law by President Trump.
"As the Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial is finally being built in Washington, I can't think of a more fitting way to honor him than to pass this legislation that furthers his vision of creating an interstate system that connects America's military assets, businesses, and communities from coast to coast," said Babin. "I-14 is already known as the "Forts to Ports' highway, and our goal is to build upon that success with further improvements, including a nonstop interstate connection from Goodfellow Air Force Base in West Texas to the strategic seaport in Beaumont. I-14 will finally give countless communities access to the benefits of an interstate highway, with a design and implementation process run by state and local transportation authorities, not Washington bureaucrats. Even in this time of divided government, I believe this is the kind of project that Republicans and Democrats in the House and Senate can work together with the Trump Administration on to accomplish."
Joining Rep. Babin as original cosponsors of the bill are Reps. Mike Conaway (TX-11), Randy Weber (TX-14), John Carter (TX-31), Roger Williams (TX-25), Kevin Brady (TX-08), Bill Flores, (TX-17), Mike Johnson (LA-04), Ralph Abraham (LA-05), Michael Guest (MS-03), and Steven Palazzo (MS-04).
"As our economy continues to grow, it's critical that we continue building the infrastructure needed to support it," said Conaway. "The I-14 expansion through San Angelo to Midland provides a safer route for travelers in the area, and directly connects the Permian Basin -- the top oil and gas producing region in the world -- with one of the largest ports in the country. This route also establishes a clear route between military installations in Texas, connecting Goodfellow Air Force Base in the 11th District with Fort Hood, Fort Bliss, and the strategic seaports on the Gulf Coast. Access to an interstate highway is imperative to the continued development of West Texas, and I look forward to working with my colleagues to make this proposal a reality."
"This legislation serves to fortify the roads leading to our nation's strategic ports," said Weber. "Our ports transport our service members and their supplies, an incredible amount of energy, and so much more. They move our goods to and from the heartland. The importance of transportation and infrastructure cannot be overstated."
"As a representative of Ft. Hood, I've witnessed the results of the I-14 expansion in my own district, and I'm pleased to join my colleagues in support of the I-14 Expansion and Improvement Act," said Carter. "Expansion of Interstate 14, known as the "Forts to Ports" corridor, would not only improve readiness and efficiency within our military, but also provide exponential benefits for TX-31 communities that are growing in population daily by expanding access to an east-to-west interstate highway system."
"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."
"As an original cosponsor of the I-14 Expansion and Improvement Act, I support Representative Babin's efforts to expand and improve the 1-14 interstate highway," said Brady. "Extending this transportation infrastructure will facilitate travel between key military bases and ports and increase rural communities' access to interstate highways, all while respecting state and local autonomy."
"Extending I-14 will benefit countless cities across many Southern states," said Johnson. Specifically, in Louisiana, Leesville and Fort Polk will gain greater access to important resources further enhancing our military capabilities and readiness. I thank my good friend and colleague, Rep. Babin, for leading this effort and stand ready to support him in whatever way we can to ensure this critical bill crosses the finish line."
"I-14 will provide exciting new economic development opportunities across Central Louisiana, and it will help better connect Fort Polk to the rest of our nation's southern military installations and deployment ports," said Abraham. "I'm proud to cosponsor this bill, and I look forward to working with Congressman Babin and other colleagues to get this designation."
"This legislation paves the way for endless economic opportunities in our region," said Palazzo. "By approving this designation, we can spur development and connect our military installments to our ports and large commerce centers located throughout the route. I look forward to seeing the designation give Mississippi's transportation routes a competitive edge."
Click here to view the bill text.