Transportation

Could A New Interstate North of Houston Help Alleviate The City’s Traffic Issues?

There’s a call to create a new interstate highway through the southeastern United States and it’s coming from a student-led coalition.

Proposed I-14 would run from Augusta, Georgia to west Texas, passing through Huntsville north of Houston.

In central Texas, a portion of U.S. 190 near Killeen has been designated as Interstate 14. But the Youth Infrastructure Coalition would like to see a complete I-14 corridor from eastern Georgia to west Texas. Under their proposal, I-14 would create an alternate east-west highway that would be located midway between I-10 and I-20.

The coalition’s founder is Frank Lumpkin, a student at the University of Georgia. He said he and other students started the group to inspire young people to get involved in infrastructure projects that can benefit the area.

“If you look at a map and take the demographics of those regions, you’ll find the median household income average is about 22 percent below the average for the entire United States,” said Lumpkin. “So, there’s definitely disparity and facts show it.”

Lumpkin said one of the benefits of I-14 is that it could bring in new manufacturing jobs, considering companies need to locate along an interstate stretch so they can get raw materials and transport their products.

“Many of these regions in the south are simply just missing out completely on those opportunities,” added Lumpkin.

Under the coalition’s proposal, I-14 could be created by bringing existing roadways up to interstate standards. That would require adding lanes and grade-separated interchanges, but Lumpkin said that would be a lot cheaper than building an entirely new highway.

So, what would this project mean for Houston? The coalition’s maps show I-14 passing through Huntsville on an existing section of U.S. 190. That’s about 70 miles to the north.

Lumpkin said that, for one, it would offer another hurricane evacuation route. It could also take a lot of cross-country traffic off I-10 in Houston.

“Those heavy-load 18-wheelers, they can go on the less developed I-14, rather than having to pass on I-10 through these larger cities,” said Lumpkin.

As for what’s happening with the effort right now, a number of communities in the region have passed resolutions in support of I-14.

“What we’re trying to focus on right now, rather than money, is getting the highway designated so we can move forward and begin appropriating funds,” Lumpkin explained.

The coalition says it would like to see money for the I-14 project in an upcoming federal appropriations bill.

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Gail Delaughter

Gail Delaughter

Transportation Reporter

From early-morning interviews with commuters to walks through muddy construction sites, Gail covers all aspects of getting around Houston. That includes walking, driving, cycling, taking the bus, and occasionally flying. Before she became transportation reporter in 2011, Gail hosted weekend programs for Houston Public Media. She's also covered courts in...

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