A stretch of highway connecting a dozen military bases throughout the south has been proposed as an amendment to the recently introduced $1 trillion infrastructure bill.
The proposed interstate highway would connect military bases from Texas to Georgia, improving access for bases located in more remote parts of the south. The proposed highway is a “major step in advancing Interstate 14 as a future corridor for handling freight movement, military facility connectivity, coastal evacuation and sparking economic development,” said John Thompson, Gulf Coast Strategic Highway Coalition chairman.
If passed by the house and sent to POTUS to sign into law, the bill will fund a 1,300 mile route starting at Highway 14 near Fort Hood, Texas that stretches between Highway 10 and 20 through Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and onto Augusta, Georgia, with a focus on upgrading pre-existing roads. This stretch of improved highway would connect Goodfellow Air Force Base, Texas, Fort Polk, Louisiana,, Camp Shelby and Keesler Air Force Base, Mississippi,, Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama, and Fort Benning, Robins Air Force Base and Fort Gordon in Georgia. Advocates also believe it could improve access to bases as far west as Fort Bliss, Texas, and as far east as Fort Stewart, Georgia,, along with the Port of Savannah.
“It’s about moving troops and material, and it creates an ease in the ability to keep our country safe,” continued Thompson to Military.com.
“Sure, you can go to the Texas ports, but what if something happens like [Hurricane Harvey] in Houston several years ago?”
“To get them to another port, that’s what this highway offers. It’s the ability to move to ports over in Louisiana or Mississippi or Alabama, or vice versa,” said Sledd, a retired Army colonel and executive director of the Heart of Texas Defense Alliance.
“[Hurricanes] often interdict I-10 and it may lead to flooding or sometimes physical damage to the road structure itself or bridges. What this gives you is an ability if there is a contingency going on at the same time you’ve got one of those extreme weather events going on, you now can bypass it further inland,” Sledd continued.
Sledd also says that the improved highway would not only improve the lives of families living at the bases, but may provide an economic bump to those areas as well.
“All the large corporations, distribution centers or manufacturing companies, they want to locate where their logistics is simplified and it’s usually adjacent to an interstate system,” Sledd said.
Senators Ted Cruz of Texas and Raphael Warnock of Georgia proposed the amendment to the bill with support from the other eight senators in the five affected states. Currently, there is no estimated time frame as to when lawmakers might debate the infrastructure bill.