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Ports-to-Plains Alliance


Poll: Most Americans back 10-cent gas tax hike

Getty ImagesThe Hill

September 1, 2015

Seventy-one percent of U.S. residents would support a 10-cent increase in the 18.4 cents-per-gallon gas tax that is used to pay for federal transportation projects, according to a new poll released this week.

The survey, conducted by the San Jose, Calif.-based Mineta Transportation Institute, comes as lawmakers are facing an Oct. 29 deadline for renewing federal infrastructure spending that has been the subject of debate in Washington for most of the year.

Support for increasing the gas tax to 28 cents-per-gallon drops to 31 percent if the money is used to "maintain and improve the transportation system" instead of "improve road maintenance," according to the group.

The group behind the study said "the survey results show that a majority of Americans would support higher taxes for transportation—under certain conditions."   Read on…


NDDOT Watford City Bypasses named as Top 10 finalist in America’s Transportation Award competition – needs your vote to win top honors

The North Dakota Department of Transportation (NDDOT) received word this week that the Watford City Southeast and Southwest Bypass project has been named one of the Top 10 projects for the America’s Transportation Awards competition. As a Top 10 finalist, the Watford City Bypasses are now in the running for two prizes: Grand Prize and People’s Choice Award. A panel of experts will select the Grand Prize winner and the People’s Choice Award will be decided through online voting by going to: Voting begins today through Friday, September 11. Individuals can vote up to 10 times per day. The project with the most votes will win the People’s Choice Award so we encourage everyone to vote for the Watford City Bypass project. Each award includes a $10,000 prize that will be donated to a non-profit charity or scholarship fund. The American Association of State Highway Transportation Officials awards program was created to honor state transportation department projects that deliver value to communities.

The NDDOT worked with the community and local officials, KLJ engineering firm, along with the contractors Knife River and Philips & Jordan to design and construct bypass routes around Watford City to help take truck traffic around the city rather than through the downtown area.  The project also benefited the city’s economic activity by allowing people and goods to safely and efficiently reach their destination. By providing a route for through traffic, congestion within city limits has been reduced improving access to local businesses making them more appealing to local consumers.

“We appreciate the fact that a panel of national transportation peers recognized the excellent work of the NDDOT team and other transportation professionals,” said Grant Levi, NDDOT Director. “The Department is committed to working with communities to ensure that the roadways are safe and the community’s transportation system allows them to prosper.” 

“The construction and completion of these bypass projects has had a tremendous impact on the Watford City community. “The impact of these bypasses in our community is enormous,” said Watford City Mayor, Brent Sanford. “The completion of these projects has significantly raised the quality of life in our community, as residents are no longer consumed by the daily frustration brought on by traffic congestion.”

The Watford City Southwest Bypass is a 7.5 mile long, 4-lane roadway that cost approximately $80 million. The Watford City Southeast Bypass is a 5.7 mile long, 4-lane roadway that cost approximately $50 million.

The Watford City Southeast and Southwest Bypasses project also received the Western Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (WASHTO) America’s Transportation award earlier this year. The project was recognized in the “Quality of Life/Community Development” category.


Lubbock could become hub city for wind energy


August 18, 2015

Although wind farms appear to be avoiding Lubbock, experts say it will likely become the wind Hub City.

Ken Starcher, the associate director of the Alternative Energy Institute, said Crosby, Floyd, Dickens and Motley County will likely gain wind farms in the future.

Lubbock Mayor Glen Robertson said while the City of Lubbock does not plan to pursue wind farms, it will be a key point for manufacturing and distribution for the area.

"I think Lubbock’s role in the future of wind energy will probably be more a manufacturing and distribution base for the industry, maybe," he said, "so not much an area where we’re producing a lot of wind energy, but maybe we’re handling the logistics for the wind energy equipment."   Read on…


A Look at Transportation Funding Measures Passed by States

Associated Press

August 17, 2015

About one-third of the states have taken action this year to boost funding for transportation or shore up their road and bridge funds against excepted declines in tax revenues. Here's a look at what those states have done.


The Legislature, which is officially nonpartisan but dominated by Republicans, voted May 14 to override Republican Gov. Pete Ricketts' veto of a bill gradually increasing the fuel tax by 6 cents a gallon over four years. The measure, to take effect Jan. 1, is projected to generate about $215 million over the first five years and about $76 million annually when fully phased in.


A proposed constitutional amendment referred to the Nov. 3 ballot by the Republican-led Legislature would redirect existing taxes to transportation. The state highway fund would gain $2.5 billion annually from general sales tax revenues starting in September 2017. It also would gain 35 percent of vehicle sales tax revenues above a certain threshold, starting in September 2019.   Read on…


Request for Proposals: Port of Wild Horse Feasibility Study/Business Plan

This Request For Proposals (RFP) has been developed by the Wild Horse Border Committee (Committee), which is a partnership that includes, among other entities, local governments in the State of Montana and Province of Alberta, along with regional economic development organizations in both countries.

The Wild Horse Border Committee, comprised of representatives from northern Montana and southern Alberta, has obtained funding commitments from a variety of sources to develop a Feasibility Study/Business Plan to assess the potential economic impact of expanded hours of operation at the Port of Wild Horse, which is an international port of entry located between the Canadian Province of Alberta and the American State of Montana.

The Feasibility Study/Business Plan will also assess the impact of altering the designation of the Port of Wild Horse from a permit-only port of entry to a commercial port of entry. The Committee is co-chaired by the Mayor of the City of Havre and the Mayor’s designee from the City of Medicine Hat.

Complete RFP


Lawmakers Pass 3-Month Extension; Senate Approves Its Version of Long-Term Bill

AASHTO Journal

July 31, 2015

Congress voted for yet another short-term patch to the Highway Trust Fund with a three-month extension past its scheduled July 31 expiration.

But the Senate also passed a multi-year authorization of highway, transit and rail programs, while House leaders said they would move their own long-term bill in coming months and then negotiate a final one with senators.

So although Congress in its latest action only authorized the trust fund through Oct. 29 – for the third short extension in the past year – the outlook greatly improved for lawmakers to enact a major long-term surface transportation bill in 2015.

At the same time, lawmakers set up another near-term expiration that can still weigh on project planning for some states, and made October a high-stakes deadline month.   Read on…


Senate Set To Push Through Three-Month Patch

It's the eve of deadline day. And by mid-afternoon, the Senate is expected to have sent a three-month transportation patch off for the president's signature. While there are never any guarantees some senator won't march onto the floor with an objection that forces the chamber through a maze of procedural maneuvers just to eventually achieve the same end, it seems like everybody in the upper chamber is sufficiently on board with the vote, which will take 60 supporters to pass.

True to his word, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will first make lawmakers finish what they started 10 days ago - consideration of the multi-year bill that's not sailing off to the White House anytime soon. That first passage vote is scheduled for noon. And the vote on clearing the three-month patch is set for 1:45 p.m..

Presidential approval: Despite the White House's previous insistence that lawmakers tack a reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank onto whatever transportation plan they pass this month, the folks over at 1600 Penn. sent word Wednesday that President Barack Obama would in fact sign the patch.

Lopsided vote: On the Hill, there has been an overwhelming willingness to back the three-month extension, even as Democrats chastise GOP leaders for punting again. After spending hours bashing Republican leaders for not keeping the House in session long enough to take up the Senate's multi-year bill, the vast majority of Democrats voted for passage of the measure, which skated through on a tally of 385-34.


Pulling the emergency chute with three days to spare — Leaders pledge to reach long-term deal, later

Politico Morning Transportation

July 29, 2015

Congressional leaders move forward today with their fallback proposal for transportation funding, after deciding Tuesday to deploy the emergency plan rather than continue their game of chicken right up until funding authority expires on Friday night. It’s not a three- or six-year bill like Senate leaders want, and it’s not the mid-December patch the bosses over in the House are seeking — or even the two-month extension Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell had teed up as a backup.   Read on…