Abraham, Johnson reintroduce I-14 bill
WASHINGTON - U.S. Reps. Ralph Abraham, M.D., R-La., and Mike Johnson, R-La., joined U.S. Rep. Brian Babin, R-Texas, in reintroducing legislation to create Interstate 14 through Central Louisiana.
The I-14 Expansion and Improvement Act of 2019, also referred to as the “Forts to Ports” bill, will extend the future I-14 interstate highway to additional areas in Texas, Central Louisiana, 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 expansion would provide bases like Fort Polk and Camp Beauregard with quicker and easier access to the deployment port in Beaumont, Texas, and interstate travel in general, which is consistent with President Trump’s call improve readiness and efficiency within the military.
An expanded I-14 would grant communities across Central Louisiana direct access to an interstate, which will lead to more economic development and jobs.
“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.”
“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.”
The I-14 Expansion and Improvement Act builds upon the original designation, written by Rep. Babin as part of the 2015 FAST Act highway bill, 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.”
Other 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), Michael Guest (MS-03), and Steven Palazzo (MS-04).
Read the bill here.