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Ports-to-Plains Alliance


Lawmakers approve path forward to extend Interstate 27, connect Mexico trade with West Texas

From Freightwaves

John Osborne, the chairman of the Ports-to-Plains Alliance, told Sanangelolive.com, that extending I-27 would be beneficial to trade and traffic congestion. The Lubbock-based Ports-to-Plains Alliance is a grassroots organization that has advocated for extending I-27 all the way to the Texas-Mexico border for the last 20 years.

 “The lack of land, or very expensive land, next to Interstate 35 is a showstopper for providing relief to the Interstate 35 corridor by adding more lanes. Its cost is a strong argument for building an additional north-south interstate highway system like an Interstate 27,” Osborne said during the Ports-to-Plains Alliance annual board meeting in November 2018.

Osborne added, “Interstate 35 is infamous for its congestion, and much of that congestion is caused by truck traffic originating and terminating at the land port of Laredo and its sister city Nuevo Laredo across the Texas-Mexico border. Cross-border trade is booming.”



Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed a bill directing the Texas Department of Transportation to study the Ports-to-Plains Corridor, a plan that could extend Interstate 27 from Laredo all the way up to the Oklahoma-Texas border.

The bill, HB1079, signed June 10, requires the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) to study the feasibility and costs to extend I-27, which currently only connects the Texas cities of Lubbock to Amarillo – about a 120-mile stretch of highway.

By extending I-27, advocates hope to connect parts of West Texas to the trade coming north out of Laredo, while also helping the flow of truck traffic heading north out of Mexico along I-35. The extension from Laredo to Amarillo would add 630 miles to I-27.

Texas State Sen. Charles Perry (R-Lubbock), said the I-27 extension project would help to alleviate congestion on I-35.

“It is a long distance from I-35 to any legitimate north-south corridor reaching up to Canada, or to Mexico. We are woefully in need of developing those north-south corridors,” Perry said during a recent hearing in the Texas Legislature.

According to TxDOT, the Ports-to-Plains Trade Corridor on I-27 would be a divided highway corridor stretching from Laredo through West Texas to Denver, Colorado. The corridor was designated as a High Priority Corridor in 1998 and “would facilitate the efficient transportation of goods and services from Mexico, through West Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Colorado and ultimately Canada and the Pacific Northwest.”

Read on... 


Governor Signs Law to Study Building Interstate 27 Through San Angelo

From SanAngeloLive

AUSTIN, TX — Mayor Brenda Gunter lobbied for it, and now the Interstate 27 highway through San Angelo is closer to reality. Yesterday, Gov. Greg Abbott signed Texas House Bill 1079 that directs the Texas Department of Transportation to conduct a comprehensive study of the Ports-to-Plains Corridor from Laredo through San Angelo to the Oklahoma-Texas border north of Amarillo.

This study will also detail improvements to extend Interstate 27 to the Texas-New Mexico border.


Joining Gunter in providing legislative support were: City Manager Jared Miller, City of Amarillo; Ports-to-Plains Board Member Milton Pax, Dumas; Deputy City Manager Michelle Bonner, City of Amarillo; Councilman Steve Massengale, City of Lubbock; Mayor Larry McLellan, City of Big Spring; Chairman of Ports-to-Plains Alliance and President/CEO of Lubbock Economic Development Alliance John Osborne, Lubbock; and County Judge Steve Smith, Sutton County and Ports-to-Plains Alliance Board of Directors. While not testifying, the following provided legislative support during the hearings: President John Esparza, Texas Trucking Association; County Commissioner Bill McCay, Lubbock County; President/CEO Carlton Schwab, Texas Economic Development Council; Leticia Van de Putte, Andrade-Van De Putte & Associates (Del Rio); and Mark Vane, Husch Blackwell Strategies (Caterpillar).

Read on…



Long X Bridge Contract Awarded

Replacement to be Open by July 2021

From Western Dakota Energy Association

This historic Long X Bridge on US Highway 85 south of Watford City will soon be replaced with a new bridge. Work on the new Little Missouri River crossing is scheduled for completion in July 2021.

The ND Department of Transportation last week awarded a bid to Ames Construction to build the new bridge and dismantle the old one. Ames, based in Burnsville, MN, was the only bidder on the project. Its $33,971,510 bid was more than $6 million over the engineer’s estimate.

The company will begin mobilizing on the site in July and work is expected to begin in August, according to Bill Gathman, assistant district engineer for DOT’s Williston District. Gathman said the next step in getting the project started will be a pre-construction conference.

Click here to listen to Gathman’s comments.

Replacing the old truss bridge with a newer design will allow it to better accommodate oversize truck traffic. It’s vertical clearance is just over 16 feet, so it’s no surprise as Gathman says that “it’s been hit a few times in the last few years.”

The new bridge, to be built east of the current structure, will be four lanes wide in anticipation of future construction that will widen other segments of Highway 85 between Watford City and Belfield. Click here to see DOT’s eight-page handout from public hearings held last spring on the multi-part project.

Because the Long X Bridge is eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places, federal law requires it be made available for adoption prior to its removal. Emmons County rancher Paul Silbernagel will do that with the southern span of the bridge, which is about 250 feet in length. Silbernagel plans to reassemble it on his ranch east of Linton where it will span Beaver Creek. The bridge will be on private property, but it should be visible from Highway 13.

Click here to read a Bismarck Tribune article on Silbernagel’s plans for the bridge. Click here to see photos and a detailed description of the Long X Bridge from BridgeHunter.com.


Justification for Extenstion of Interstate 27

The I-27 extension would be a logical addition to the Interstate Highway System.
  • It would have connectivity benefitsThe I-27 extension would provide the only major north-south corridor in Texas west of I-35, and it would intersect three major east-west Interstate routes: I-10, I-20, and I-40.  It would serve three international border crossings: Del Rio, Eagle Pass, and Laredo.  It would connect major West Texas population and economic centers, including Amarillo, Lubbock, Big Spring, Midland-Odessa, and San Angelo, in addition to numerous smaller communities.  It is critical to linking the energy and agricultural sectors to state, national, and international trade.
  • It would have congestion relief benefits.   More than 2.3 million trucks passed through Laredo in 2018, more than through any other land port of entry by far (Detroit was next largest at 1.5 million).  Many of these trucks head north on I-35 toward San Antonio, Austin, Dallas and Fort Worth, making I-35 one of the Nation’s most congested Interstates.  The I-27 extension would provide an alternative north-south Interstate route, thereby helping to relieve congestion by diverting traffic off I-35 at Laredo.  Results would be improved on-time delivery and decreased transportation costs for goods and services.  Moreover, the $5.2 billion price tag for the 500-mile extension is cost effective when compared to the $4.8 billion cost of rebuilding just a 28-mile section of I-35 from I-635 to U.S. 380 in Dallas County.
  • It would have economic development benefits.  A future Interstate designation would be a significant new economic development tool for communities along the corridor.  Site selectors for manufacturers, warehousing and distribution recommend sites along an interstate highway and travel services businesses such as hotels, truck stops, convenience stores and restaurants, which can have a dramatic impact on small communities will also expand.  This will create much needed new jobs and expanded tax base in rural West Texas. 
  • It would have safety benefits.   Travel on the nation's Interstate Highways is about twice as safe as travel on all other roadways.  Given the large energy-related and agriculture-related trucks using this corridor, and the mix of personal, tourist, and truck traffic, safety will be greatly improved by the extension of I-27.  Fatalities and injuries will be reduced.
  • It would have national defense and national security benefits.  About 300 miles, or 60 percent, of the extension is on the Strategic Highway Network (STRAHNET), which are the roads that provide defense access, continuity, and emergency capabilities for movements of personnel and equipment in both peace and war. 
  • It would benefit energy production.  The extension of Interstate 27 between Lubbock and Laredo will provide direct access into the heart of the oil and gas industry. This direct access will allow for more production and distribution of these resources. This extension is a crucial component as Texas leads the country in energy independence.
  • It would benefit cross border trade.  A future interstate designation would lead to improved cross border efficiency at the border crossings of Del Rio, Eagle Pass and Laredo. It would encourage more efficient use of all three crossings reducing wait time on congested international bridges.



Trump, Congress Eye Possibility of Infrastructure Bill in 2019

Transportation Topics

While the new Congress and the White House kick off 2019 in the midst of a partial government shutdown, President Donald Trump and the leadership of the U.S. House and Senate have acknowledged that authorizing funding for infrastructure projects will be atop their legislative priorities.

After it abandoned its infrastructure agenda shortly after proposing a 10-year, $1.5 trillion plan in February 2018, the White House appears ready to try pushing a plan again this year with a divided legislative branch.

Counselor to the president Kellyanne Conway noted the potential for advancing the policy. Speaking to reporters at the White House on Jan. 3, she said, “We see some of the Democrats making joyful noises about infrastructure and keeping the economy humming and hopefully we can rely upon them.”

Identifying a long-term source of funding for big-ticket construction and maintenance projects, however, remains elusive. Transportation policymakers rejected the president’s plan due to its significant reliance on private sector backing. They continue to disagree on the best approach for securing dollars into a federal highway account headed toward insolvency in less than three years. As Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) put it after the midterm elections, “The question is how are you going to pay for it and that always becomes very challenging because there’s no sort of easy way to pay for infrastructure without impacting an awful lot of Americans.”

Besides the funding question, the ongoing tense debate over immigration that led Trump to proceed with the partial shutdown also threatens an infrastructure package. If Democrats continue to oppose his efforts for a wall along the southern border, Trump suggested an unwillingness to consider a deal on infrastructure policy in the near future.

Read on... 



U.S. Chamber of Commerce

After 13 months of talks, and a whole lot of ups and downs, the U.S., Mexico, and Canada have reached agreement on a successor to the 25-year-old North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). The aim of the new United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) is to bring North American trade policy into the 21st century. Negotiators deserve a lot of credit for working through all 34 chapters and dozens of annexes and coming up with a pact that all three nations could agree on – it was no small feat!

From the beginning of the debate over the future of NAFTA, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce agreed it should be modernized. But we also made it clear that we would vigorously oppose any effort to undermine the underlying deal. NAFTA supports the $1 trillion in trade that crosses our borders with Mexico and Canada every year. And this flow of trade supports the livelihoods of 14 million American workers across our country.

The Chamber’s experts are carefully going through the new agreement with our members to assess its implications for U.S. businesses and our economy. But we already know that negotiators got the most important detail right – they kept the agreement trilateral. For a few fraught weeks it appeared possible that Canada could be left out – an outcome that would have been unacceptable to the private sector and dead on arrival in Congress.

Early indicators also show numerous wins for U.S. business including on digital trade, intellectual property, financial services, and agricultural trade. In these and other areas, the USMCA is truly a 21st century trade deal. However, the agreement appears to mark a setback on investment protections and access to government procurement opportunities, issues we will continue to work on.

Read on...


Statewide Transportation Funding Solution Certified for November Ballot

The Ports-to-Plains Alliance is part of the Statewide Coalition that helped develop the initiative and bring it to the Colorado ballot in November/

Proposition 110 Dedicates Sales Tax to Roads, Bridges & Multimodal Projects to Address Congestion, Safety

The statewide coalition Let’s Go, Colorado today announced that its proposed comprehensive, bipartisan transportation funding solution was certified for the November General Election ballot by the Colorado Secretary of State as Proposition 110.

“Coloradans deserve a solution to our growing transportation crisis that is guaranteed to generate the revenue to address long-neglected projects in every corner of our state,” said Lone Tree Mayor Jackie Millet, a Republican. “Proposition 110 is the only measure on this year’s ballot that can fund the transportation safety, capacity and mobility improvements that our citizens and businesses are demanding. Plus, it empowers local communities to tackle our toughest transportation challenges. Proposition 110 is the answer Colorado needs.”

“The Western Slope has been promised transportation solutions for many years, but the reality is that the state funds aren’t there – and won’t be there without the common-sense solution that Proposition 110 offers,” said Christian Reece, Executive Director of Club 20, a non-partisan advocacy coalition for Western Colorado. “We can’t tie our economic future to more promises or proposals driven by narrow ideology. We need a solution that truly addresses transportation problems that have lingered for years, and that requires new, dedicated revenue. It’s basic math and basic common sense. Club 20 strongly supports Proposition 110.”


Why we’re asking all Coloradans to get behind “Let’s Go”! by Denver South Economic Partnership

Denver South Economic Partnership is backing Let’s Go Colorado campaign.  Below is their reasoning.

With the election season well underway in Colorado it can be both confusing and overwhelming trying to keep up with every ballot initiative. We here at Denver South EDP, having done the research and listened to our communities, fully back Let’s Go, Colorado, a new funding source to fix our roads.

For decades, we have lacked the resources to maintain our roads, highways and local bus routes all across Colorado. We need a statewide solution that ensures local governments have the resources to meet demands, addresses high-priority projects on state highways, and promotes multimodal transportation options that reduce congestion.

The Let’s Go, Colorado proposal will increase the state’s sales tax an additional .62% on the dollar. This revenue will address longstanding problems with funding transportation projects in the state.

We sat down with our Managing Director, Lauren Masias, to dive deep into why this topic is so important for all Coloradoans.

The first thing I see is tax increase, why would anyone want to vote for that?

LM: A sales tax allows everyone who uses our road to chip in, including tourists. When looking at the actual numbers our proposal only increases the sales tax by .62%, a little more than half a cent on the dollar.

What will the money be used for?

LM: If approved by voters, this will generate in excess of $750 MLN/year and the ballot question specifies that 45% is to be used for statewide projects by CDOT, 40% is to be distributed to Local Governments and 15% is to be used to fund ‘multi-modal’ projects anywhere in Colorado.

In essence, the money will fund critical sate projects to increase safety, make it easier to get around, support multimodal transit and fund local street and highway projects as determined by their leadership.

That seems like a lot of money, do we really need that much, I thought the gas tax already paid for that?

LM: State Gasoline Taxes don’t cover anywhere near what the needs are and CDOT has a more than $9B backlog of projects with no funding.

Click here for complete article.