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.

No comments: