Sunday, September 24, 2017

I-49 Through Shreveport

Original Post: I-49 Extension

The Shreveport Connector through downtown is a final step to connecting Texarkana, AR and Lafayette, LA. The connector is part of a larger plan to extend I-49 from New Orleans to Winnipeg, Manitoba. A, $55 million, 4-mile stretch of new interstate connecting Martin Luther King Dr and LA 1 (North Market Street), was officially opened to traffic on May 31, 2017. The next phase connects I-49 north of Shreveport to I-49 south to Alexandria.

Shreveport and Louisiana officials see Interstate-49 in Shreveport as essential for attracting new economic development. According to them, transportation is number one or two of importance on a checklist of site selection factors for corporate and manufacturing executives. The route through highly developed, and primarily minority, areas of Shreveport aren't without controversy. 

Some cities are relocating Interstates that divided neighborhoods devastating some communities. An article in The Atlantic reports on several cities undergoing or considering removal and revitalization plans. Shreveport sees the I-49 intown route as an economic development opportunity in itself. Shreveport newspaper The Times article reports on that community's issues and the Council's ultimate support for the controversial route.

Segments J and K, sections connecting Shreveport from I-220 north to I-49 to the south were just recently and currently being completed, as reported in this KSLA news story.  

The segment from Lafayette, Louisiana to New Orleans is yet to begin.  The route will follow much of US 90, a majority of which is already limited access.  I-49 will intersect with I-10 in Lafayette and again in New Orleans as well as I-310.

The route is important to industry, particularly the petroleum industry. Texarkana, with a population of just 68,000 divided evenly between Texas and Arkansas, is already served by I-30 (itself suggested for extension). Nonetheless, officials see the new Interstate as a boon for economic development

Sunday, January 03, 2016

I-49 Expansion Progresses in Louisiana, Arkansas - I-49 Update

The long term plan is to have a corridor from New Orleans to Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada - a "Pines to Palms" Interstate. In the 'Palms' area, the section connecting Shreveport to Texarkana opened up November 2014 after 30 years of planning and work. The interstate expansion was promoted by the I-49 International Coalition. When complete the corridor will span 1,700 miles and three states. Green said about 85 percent of that is complete. Construction continues on the 5-mile segment connecting I-49 North to I-220. It should open in 2016 or 2017. 

The primary benefits of I-49 are connecting population centers and economic growth. For every $1 billion in Interstate development, an estimated 49,000 jobs are created. Texarkana is expected soon to be criss-crossed by three interstates - I-30, I-49 and I-69 now being developed in Texas with segments already in Northwestern Mississippi and Tennessee.

I-40 Lafayette to New Orleans
As discussed by this original I-49 extension post, the segment from Lafayette, Louisiana to New Orleans is yet to be completed. Much of the Interstate will follow US 90, a majority of which is already limited access.  The route is important to industry, particularly the petroleum industry. Texarkana, with a population of just 68,000 divided evenly between Texas and Arkansas, is already served by I-30 (itself suggested for extension). Nonetheless, officials see the new Interstate as a boon for economic development

The next southern leg is the one from Texarkana to Fort Smith, AR - a 200-mile stretch estimated estimated to cost $3 billion.  A short leg just south of Fort Smith to Alma, AR has already been designated as I-49. Though short, the segment has already sparked development at Chaffee Crossing near Fort Smith, as discussed in this article

The Arkansas portion represents 315 miles for the full 1,700 mile Palms to Pines highway. 

I-49 is expected have an intersection with the proposed Georgia to Texas Interstate-14, already under way in Texas, in Alexandria, LA.  

Part of this post was pulled from New section of I-49 opens, connects Shreveport to Texarkana.

Friday, January 01, 2016

US 190 in Texas to become new Interstate 14 - I-14 Update

U.S. Highway 190 from Belton to Copperas Cove will be renamed Interstate 14 as part of the newly approved freeway that will span Central Texas. The upgrade was approved with the five-year federal transportation bill signed into law December 2015 with Amendment No. 6 (Babin (R-TX) designating the Central Texas Corridor as the future Interstate Route I-14.

Wile originally designated for the 14th Amendment (with its due process and equal protection clauses written after the American Civil War), in Gulf Coast states, I-14 has come to be called the “Forts to Ports” highway. In fact, the Interstate would connect several military bases not the least of which is Fort Benning, Georgia - likely the largest base most under served by Interstate access. Fort Gordon at Augusta, Georgia would also be served by I-14. If all of the proposed Interstate 14 is built, it would link 10 military installations from Texas to Georgia.

Economic development officials across Texas expect the new Interstate will vastly improve their abilities to recruit industry. An analysis of the Interstate system by the American Highway Users Alliance noted that the system has contributed mightily to the economies along the routes. 

This blog post was informed by a news article in the Temple Daily Telegram. Read the original article here. Other recent articles:

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Mississippi Extends Interstate-22 Designation

Mississippi DOT has moved to designate US 78 as I-22. The 45-mile route connects New Albany, MS to Fulton, MS via Tupelo. The new Interstate, known as Corridor X, will connect Memphis to Birmingham.  Mississippi economic development leaders have been planning for business growth from the new highway since it's announcement.

“As expansion and growth continue in north Mississippi, I-22 will play a vital role in promoting safety and economic development throughout the region,” Transportation Commissioner Mike Tagert said in a prepared statement in this article - Mississippi highway department apply for I-22 designation

The suggestion to extend I-22 to the Georgia coast. The eastern I-22 extension would provide an important route from Georgia ports to the Midwest markets.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

I-22 Construction Continues into Birmingham, Provides Economic Development Opportunities

Approved by Congress as project "Corridor X", Interstate-22 construction moved into Alabama in 2010. The Alabama leg is now in (Birmingham) Jefferson County, AL at it's intersection with I-65. According to Fox affiliate WRBC, the interchange was schedule to be completed in October 2014.  From early on, agencies in the region have pinned new development hopes on the new corridor. 

As most of the new Interstate has been completed between Birmingham and Memphis, regional economic development groups have been exploiting the link as a serious economic engine for Northwest Alabama. According to the Alabama Department of Commerce, I-22 is already boosting economic development opportunity in the state.  The I-22 Alliance is a regional economic development group formed to promote the corridor to new industry. The C3 of Northwest Alabama touts the regions transportation advantages, I-22 chief among them.

I-22 Existing and Suggested Eastern Extension to Georgia Ports
As of this writing, there are no known organized groups in East Alabama or Georgia who have taken up promoting the eastern extension specifically. However, a group in western Georgia is promoting the idea of an "Import/Export Highway" between Troup County, Georgia on the Alabama border and Macon in middle Georgia.  

The map image above demonstrates the I-22 Eastern Extension (discussed in this earlier post) following the recently upgraded US280 from Birmingham through the Auburn/Opelika, Alabama area, and Columbus and Albany, Georgia on to the Georgia ports at Brunswick. Yet, the alignment could easily be routed through the Valley, Alabama to LaGrange area to achieve the goal of the Import/Export Highway. Obviously, any supporters in southern Georgia, particularly those in the Brunswick Ports, area would not be served by the alternate proposal. 

Rather than pursuing future Interstate projects, and while acknowledging the city's shunning by Interstate planners, Columbus, GA officials are presently focused on advocating for high-speed rail from Columbus to Atlanta. While a worthwhile goal, rail and Interstate planning need not be and either/or proposition. A rail feasibility study is underway. 

Indeed, an I-22 extension from Birmingham would provide a clear corridor from Georgia Atlantic ports to the midwest gateway at Memphis. The suggested route provides Albany, GA's only Interstate access, and intersects I-75 just a few miles south of Georgia's inland port at Cordele. To punctuate Interstates importance to job creation, Badcock Corp clearly stated (in their press release) that LaGrange, Georgia's location in I-85 was a key factor in locating their distribution center there: “Georgia’s logistics infrastructure will give them easy access to their growing number of retail stores across the Southeast.”

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Gulf Coast Strategic Highway - I-14 Update

Interstate-14 was first proposed in 2005. In Georgia, transportation and political officials seized on the proposal as a way to tackle two issues with the present interstate system in that state. The state lacks East-West Interstate highways south of Atlanta. I-16 serves as the only East-West connection to Georgia's ports. Interstate travel between Georgia's second-tier cities is non-existent. The phrase "can't get there from here" is often heard when discussing travel between Augusta and Columbus, Georgia.

As discussed in earlier posts, the military readiness goals of I-14 are clear. While the original proposal has the new highway terminating in Natchez, Mississippi, others have wisely endorsed the route with proposals to extend it all the way to El Paso, Texas.

The Gulf Coast Strategic Highway System is proposed as an upgrade of
fort hoodexisting highways in Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi.  The objective is to provide better connectivity between Fort Bliss, Fort Hood and Fort Polk and the strategic ports at Corpus Christi and Beaumont.  These improvements are needed to address military deployment and mobility efficiency.  Approximately 40% of the military equipment and supplies deployed in the ongoing war efforts have moved over the docks at Corpus Christi and Beaumont, Texas.

Gulf Coast Strategic Highway website

The Texas plan is winning backers in the state house and from economic
I-14 Texas Plan
development officials. Like Columbus, GA, Bryan/College Station TX is that states's largest metro without Interstate access. That has brought the backing of Texas A&M for the project. Business and economic developers recognize Interstates as the 'gold standard' for industry looking to re-locate or expand.

Unfortunately, no such similar group exists in the Georgia or Alabama. Alabama DOT does have plans to extend I-85 from Montgomery to the Mississippi border as is suggested in the proposed Eastern route of I-14. Georgia DOT issued this report to Connect Central Georgia in July 2013.

Since this Interstate proposal, the Georgia DOT has studied the East-West route between Macon andLaGrange, Georgia and found that suggested route for Interstate expansion to have the highest return on investment (ROI), primarily due to the location of the Kia Motors assembly plant in West Point, Troup County, Georgia in 2008. The Import/Export highway has a backer group with website. This proposal could easily be tied with the I-14 proposal as its western leg in Georgia.