Forts to ports

The outline of the new I-14 designation, nicknamed "forts to ports," is shown on this map of the Southern United States.

The five-state expansion of Interstate 14 was recently confirmed with President Joe Biden’s signature on the $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill that passed Congress earlier this month.

The legislation promises to expand the highway east, from Midland-Odessa to Augusta, Georgia. Currently, I-14 is only designated from Copperas Cove to Belton. The aim of the expansion is to connect the southern belt’s military forts, such as Fort Hood, Fort Polk and Camp Beauregard in Louisiana.

The project aims to allow the military to deploy large vehicles and equipment faster, connecting an interstate highway with direct routes to port cities.

Intersecting highways will help I-14 connect the region’s ports, which include the ports of Beaumont and Port Arthur, Gulfport and the port of Savannah.

The highway will run through roughly through the middle of Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Georgia.

The I-14 Gulf Coast Strategic Highway Coalition said in a statement that the new route will help to connect the area while providing economic advantages to municipalities located between the ports.

The project, which was introduced in an amendment to the infrastructure bill by Senators Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and Raphael Warnock, D-Georgia, is expected to take anywhere from five to 10 years to complete.

The I-14 expansion will be completed through phased development, with state and local governments receiving funding to complete portions of the highway near those municipalities.

For now, the expansion remains just a congressional designation. Before the project can be started, the project must be approved in phases based on funding availability and green lights from local planning boards and environmental groups.

jdowling@kdhnews.com | 254-501-7552