JONES COUNTY, MS (WDAM) - A bill that could connect Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi through one interstate highway is making its way through Congress.
The I-14 Expansion and Improvement Act of 2018 is a strategic highway plan to connect three states starting in Odessa, Texas and ending in Laurel, Mississippi.
The bill originated in Texas as a system to improve evacuation routes and link military installations across the Gulf Coast.
Louisiana and Mississippi eventually joined in on the plan.
“The three states have worked together just to say, ‘Hey, we’re just going to designate this path and if it’s ever built this is going to be the critical path of where it’s going to be,’” said Ross Tucker, president and CEO of the Jones County Economic Development Authority.
The proposed route would begin in west Texas and run through central Louisiana into Mississippi. It would then follow Highway 84 through Natchez, Brookhaven and then to Laurel, where it will end at Interstate 59.
“It’ll be for the U.S. House of Representatives to pass it out of that body into the United States transportation bill that’s about to be drafted for 2019,” said Tucker. “This portion of this bill will be included in that transportation plan.”
The Jones County Board of Supervisors and the Mississippi Department of Transportation are in support of the bill.
Congressmen Michael Guest and Steven Palazzo are both co-sponsors on the bill.
Palazzo released the following statement regarding the bill:
"I support the designation of I-14 along the route of Highway 84 because it will help our economy flourish in Jones County and the surrounding region. The I-14 proposal would connect West Texas to Mississippi and improve access to multiple ports and military installations between Texas, Louisiana, and Mississippi. We should always look for new ways to bring development to south Mississippi that will drive new economic opportunities for Mississippi and this proposal does just that.”
Supporters say the plan is still in it’s very early stages. If passed, it could take nearly 20 years to complete.