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College students hoping to create new interstate from Texas to Georgia

A group of college students is working together with lawmakers and communities to try to make the route to locations throughout the southeast a little shorter by using Interstate 14 to connect Killeen, Texas, with Columbus, Georgia. The idea started when Frank Lumpkin was in high school, taking part in Youth Leadership Columbus. While taking part in the class, he said he realized that the city needed more infrastructure to succeed, and he said he has been working on the project ever since.

“From the moment I saw this robust transportation network that linked the southern military instillations, would address persistent poverty issues that we are facing and would overall connect isolated places, I just had a gut feeling, and I knew this is what needed to happen for the future of our region,” Lumpkin said.

Now, Lumpkin is a sophomore at the University of Georgia, and he is working with other students and lawmakers to find support for Interstate 14.

“It addresses poverty through opportunity, and opportunity is better for everyone,” Lumpkin said. “It is better business, and it is going to attract the sort of businesses that our region currently is not able to persuade to come here.”

The students expect the interstate to have a major economic impact on cities and counties within a 50 to 100-mile radius of the interstate by attracting businesses and jobs to communities near the interstate.

“The economic impact could be huge on this,” said Justus Armstrong, a sophomore at Auburn University. “First you have jobs in construction and maintenance on I-14 itself. That is before the interstate is even built. The main way that jobs and economic prosperity is going to be implemented is through the manufacturers and business coming in. These manufacturers are going to need a large roadway to ship their products out to market quicker. The way that is going to happen is an interstate.”

Significantly for Troup County residents, the interstate would create an easy travel route across portions of the Alabama and Mississippi that can only be accessed currently by smaller state highways.

“This opens up for LaGrange the entire southern part of Georgia and Alabama because we’ll have a corridor that goes all the way from Columbus to Augusta and from Columbus to Montgomery and into Mississippi,” Lumpkin said.

“All of those regions currently are untapped because they have no way to be connected to the grand transportation network that we call the interstate highway system. That will allow people in those areas to commute to LaGrange. It provides that shortcut from [Interstate] 14 to [Interstate] 85.”

The students were optimistic about the possibility of the interstate being built, and with local governments in Columbus, Georgia; Russell County, Alabama; Warner Robins, Georgia; Talbot County, Georgia; Macon, Georgia; Butler, Georgia; and Phenix City, Alabama, on board the proposal is making headway, but the students realize that the project still has a long way to go.

“The biggest thing holding us back is lack of awareness,” Lumpkin said. To learn more about Interstate 14, visit My14.org.