New Push for Interstate Access in B/CS During Washington Trip

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WASHINGTON, DC - Gridlock: common on the Beltway in Washington and at the Capitol these days, but something leaders from the Brazos Valley are encouraging DC leaders to break through on their visit this week.

Congressional leaders are looking at options for a national transportation funding bill, but looking at Washington these days, if you think there's a good chance of it being long-term and comprehensive, you might want to hit the brakes.

As for our neck of the woods?

"There are going to be a lot more cars on the road, and the roadways probably won't be able to handle that extra load that we have," said Brazos County Commissioner Kenny Mallard.

Area leaders in Washington with the annual Bryan/College Station Chamber of Commerce delegation are letting Congress know that TxDOT is $400 million behind in funding for projects they've identified for the region. Getting behind the growth curve wouldn't be wise.

Then, there's an option known as Interstate 14 that would dart from El Paso to Augusta, Georgia, and, as drawn in a proposal, use existing roads running through Huntsville, Bryan/College Station, Hearne and on towards Bell County.

"One of the things for businesses looking to relocate, access is critical, and the interstate system is just like the gold standard," said Tom Wilkinson, the executive director of the Brazos Valley Council of Governments. "You're just struck off the list early on from any of the potential businesses because we don't have that."

Bryan/College Station is one of the largest metro areas in the country without interstate access.

Congressman Roger Williams, who represents District 25 to the northwest of the Brazos Valley, has committed to get the ball rolling in the House to authorize I-14. He was one of the officials local leaders met with Tuesday.

"When we're talking highways, we're really in a good situation because it's a bipartisan thing, and we're all the same," he said, adding, "Urgency's important."

So far, I-14 has earned support from the Texas A&M System, and local leaders are in on the talks. But of course, as it so often here, whether these things get done likely come down to money and political road blocks local officials are encouraging folks here to break through.