14th Amendment Highway
Proposed by U.S. Rep. Max Burns and other legislators in 2004 along with the 3rd Infantry Division Highway (Interstate 3), the 14th Amendment Highway, or Interstate 14, was envisioned to run west to Austin, Texas, and east to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, thus creating a “Gulf Coast Strategic Highway.” Under this scenario, to connect properly with the nearby Interstates, Interstate 14 would continue west from Natchez to Alexandria, Jasper, College Station, and Austin.5 To the east, Interstate 14 would extend east into South Carolina, where it would connect with Interstate 20.
The new freeway corridor would follow U.S. 84 from Louisiana into Mississippi through Natchez, Brookhaven, Laurel, and Waynesboro before entering Alabama. Once in Alabama, the route will follow U.S. 84 east to Grove Hill, then angle northeast via Clarke County Route 35 toward Camden. At Camden, the freeway would turn east again via Alabama 28 and Alabama 21, connecting with Interstate 65 east of Hayneville via Lowndes County Route 26. From that point, Interstate 14 would merge with Interstate 65 north to Interstate 85 north, possibly using the planned Alabama 108 / Montgomery Outer Bypass freeway. Near Tuskegee, Interstate 14 would branch off Interstate 85 and follow U.S. 80 east to Phenix City and enter Georgia at Columbus.
Following the existing U.S. 80 and bypass of Columbus, Interstate 14 would turn south on Interstate 185, then southeast on U.S. 27-280/Georgia 1. Interstate 14 would then split east along Georgia 26 at Cusseta, then continue east along Georgia 26, meeting Interstate 75 in the vicinity of Perry, where it would meet up with Georgia 96 and the Fall Line Freeway Corridor (Georgia 540 / High Priority Corridor 6). Interstate 14 would then turn northeast through Warner Robins and connect with Georgia 88 via a new route between Irwinton and Sandersville. From there, Interstate 14 would travel northeast via Georgia 88 and U.S. 1/Georgia 4 to meet Interstate 520 in Augusta. At Augusta, Interstate 14 could continue east over the Savannah River, and it would follow Interstate 520 northeast to end at Interstate 20 in South Carolina.
The portion of Interstate 14 that overlays U.S. 80 is part of Congressional High Priority Corridor 6. Corridor 6 consists of the following:
- U.S. 80 from Meridian to Montgomery via Demopolis and Selma
- Interstate 85 from Montgomery to Auburn-Opelika
- U.S. 80 or U.S. 280 from Auburn-Opelika to Columbus (overlaps Interstate 14 corridor)
- U.S. 80 from Columbus to Macon
- Interstate 16 from Macon to Savannah
Interstate 14 is referred to as the “14th Amendment Highway.” This name honors the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which provides for equal rights to all persons in the United States, which is of particular importance in the Deep South, through which I-14 would traverse.
A 2006 news article6 indicated that plans were already afoot to extend Interstate 14 both east and west from the legislatively designated termini. According to the article, Interstate 14 would begin near El Paso, Texas, then extend east through eastern Texas, cross Louisiana, follow the planned route from Natchez to Augusta, then continue east to Wilmington, North Carolina. The freeway would be accompanied by rail, would connect ports, and provide access to various military bases along the way.6
The concept of Interstate 14 (and companion Interstate 3/Savannah River Parkway) was originally proposed by Republican Representative Max Burns from Georgia. A planned “Route Initiation Act” was authored by Rep. Burns in July 2004 for the 108th Congress that would authorize a study of the planned Interstate 14 corridor: “To require a study and report regarding the construction and designation of a new Interstate from Augusta, Georgia to Natchez, Mississippi.” This act is known as the “14th/14 Amendment Interstate Highway Initiation Act.” According to the act, the Interstate highway is necessary for several reasons, including (1) the economic development of the 11-state region known as the “Southern Black Belt” in a similar model to the Appalachian Regional Commission in 1965 and (2) providing for increased opportunity for a historically impoverished part of the country (the act actually identifies that those residents, “particularly the descendants of freed slaves, suffer from high unemployment, low incomes, low education levels, poor health, and high infant mortality.”4
Even though Interstates 10 and 20 are somewhat nearby, the act further states that “disparity in transportation infrastructure investment has been a key contributing factor to the persistent poverty and social ills of this region. The lack of adequate east-west Interstate highway access has provided a significant impediment to travel throughout the region, served as a severe obstacle to the attraction of industry and jobs, and has been a detriment to public health and transportation safety.” The last paragraph of Section 2 of the Act resolves that Interstate 14 should be constructed through the historic Southern Black Belt.
The bill was introduced in the House of Representatives by six members of Georgia’s delegation in late July; the legislation was written by Representative Burns. Companion legislation for Interstates 14 and 3 was filed in the Senate by Georgia Democrat Zell Miller and Georgia Republican Saxby Chambliss.1 The bill is assigned the designation H.R. 4925 and was introduced on July 22, 2004. The bill required the Secretary of Transportation to study the two proposed Interstate routes and present options for construction to Congress by December 31, 2004.4
On November 2, 2004, Representative Max Burns was defeated by Democrat John Barrow. Barrow continued efforts to lobby for the potential Interstate corridor. On August 10, 2005, the legislation to study the Interstate 14 corridor was signed into law by President George W. Bush as part of the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act of 2005: A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU). However, the Interstate 14 designation was not written into law. Here is the text from Section 1927 of SAFETEA-LU:
SEC. 1927. 14TH AMENDMENT HIGHWAY AND 3RD INFANTRY DIVISION HIGHWAY.
Not later than December 31, 2005, any funds made available to commission studies and reports regarding construction of a route linking Augusta, Georgia, Macon, Georgia, Columbus, Georgia, Montgomery, Alabama, and Natchez, Mississippi and a route linking through Savannah, Georgia, Augusta, Georgia, and Knoxville, Tennessee, shall be provided to the Secretary to-
- carry out a study and submit to the appropriate committees of Congress a report that describes the steps and estimated funding necessary to construct a route for the 14th Amendment Highway, from Augusta, Georgia, to Natchez, Mississippi (formerly designated the Fall Line Freeway in the State of Georgia); and
- carry out a study and submit to the appropriate committees of Congress a report that describes the steps and estimated funding necessary to designate and construct a route for the 3rd Infantry Division Highway, extending from Savannah, Georgia, to Knoxville, Tennessee, by way of Augusta, Georgia (formerly the Savannah River Parkway in the State of Georgia).
The 14th Amendment Highway Corridor report delivered to Congress on February 3, 2012 specified a 600 mile route for Interstate 14. The corridor would run from Natchez, Mississippi east to Montgomery, Alabama and Columbus, Macon and Augusta in Georgia. The route between Macon and Augusta would tie into Interstate 20 near Exit 183 or Interstate 520 near Fort Gordon. This 100-mile stretch would involve new highway construction through Milledgeville, Sandersville and Wrens to connect with I-520 (Bobby Jones Expressway).
A similar report was filed on the 3rd Infantry Division Highway, Interstate 3 between Savannah, Augusta, western North Carolina and Knoxville. The report however did not identify funding for the corridor. The 14th Amendment Highway Study examined five options for the route with cost estimates ranging from $296 million to $7.7 billion. Rep. John Barrow indicated that he would continue efforts toward making the reports a reality.8