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Ports-to-Plains Alliance


San Angelo economic growth No. 2 in the U.S.

San Angelo Standard-Times

September 25, 2015

If San Angeloans have been feeling prosperous recently, the Bureau of Economic Analysis has just offered a good reason for it.

The San Angelo Metropolitan Statistical Area is ranked No. 2 in the nation for gross domestic product growth in 2014, according to data released Thursday by the BEA.

The San Angelo MSA includes the city and Tom Green and Irion counties. The GDP measures all forms of economic activity during specific time periods. The San Angelo MSA is one of 381 nationwide.

Only Midland had a higher growth figure in 2014. The San Angelo economy grew by 11.4 percent, according to BEA estimates; the Midland MSA grew by 24.1 percent.

San Angelo’s GDP in 2013 was $4.326 billion; in 2014, it was $4.818, gaining nearly half a billion dollars in one year, more than double the growth of any of the previous five years.   Read on…


Hoeven, Senators, Western Governors Meet to Move 6-Year Highway Bill; Bill Includes More Than $1.6 Billion for ND

Meeting participants. Left to right, Bullock, Daines, Rounds, Daugaard, Thune, Enzi, Mead, Barrasso, Hoeven and Dalrymple.

WASHINGTON – Senator John Hoeven and Senate colleagues today met with a group of four western governors to advance a six-year federal highway bill. The governors were on Capitol Hill to meet with members of the Commerce and Appropriations committees to develop a strategy for passing a long-term transportation bill that will give states the certainty they need to begin large infrastructure projects.

The Senate passed a new six-year highway bill in July that will provide North Dakota with more than $1.6 billion. The formula is favorable to North Dakota and increases highway funding for the state to $270 million, about $30 million a year more than it currently receives.

“A strong, long-term highway bill is important not only for the western states, but for the entire country,” Hoeven said. “The fact that five western governors would make the trip to meet with us underscores the importance of this bill to their states’ economies. The current transportation bill will enable important infrastructure projects to move forward, which will create jobs, grow our economy and improve safety.”

Governors Jack Dalrymple (R-N.D.), Steve Bullock (D-Mont.), Dennis Daugaard (R-S.D.) and Matt Mead (R-Wyo.) were in Washington with the Western Governors’ Association to meet with lawmakers on critical issues to their states.

The Developing a Reliable and Innovative Vision for the Economy (DRIVE) Act reauthorizes the nation’s transportation programs for six years. The six-year Senate bill provides $350 billion in contract authority for the 2015-2021 period. The measure makes up for a lack of highway trust fund revenues by adding about $45 billion in offsets. The bill does not increase the deficit or increase taxes.

DRIVE Act Highlights for North Dakota:

  • Increases Transportation Funding for North Dakota by maintaining the federal aid highway formula structure and increasing the amount each state will receive every year:
  • North Dakota will receive an average of $270 million a year in highway formula funding over six years, an average of $30 million more than the state receives today.
  • Makes completing transportation projects easier by making National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA) reforms, cutting red tape.
  • Provides six years of increased funding, giving state and local governments the certainty and stability they need to improve and develop our nation’s transportation infrastructure.
  • Increases Transit Funding to North Dakota by approximately $1 million a year, increasing from more than $14 million in the first year to more than $17 million by the sixth year. Overall, the bill increases public transportation funding nearly $1.5 billion over MAP-21 levels.
  • Improves Safety:  The bill’s safety and regulatory title makes important enhancements for safer highways as well as freight and passenger rail service through effective implementation of new technologies, new tools for federal safety watchdog agencies, reforming grant programs for states and transparency that promotes accountability.
  • Includes a New National Freight Strategy and Strategic Plan to improve freight transportation networks that serve agriculture, retail, manufacturing and energy sectors.
  • Includes the Federal Permitting Improvement Act to improve the permitting process for major capital (more than $200 million in investment) projects across sectors, including energy.
  • Assistance for Major Projects (AMP) Program to provide grants for large projects of national or regional significance and includes at least a 20 percent set aside for rural areas.

Original News Release from Senator John Hoeven (ND)


Colorado highway funding is in the budget crosshairs

Denver Business Journal

September 21, 2015

Evening rush hour traffic builds on C470 near Yosemite. | KATHLEEN LAVINE | DENVER BUSINESS JOURNALA slowdown in oil and gas drilling could trim economic growth in Colorado enough to trigger an automatic increase in transportation funding next year.

The state’s byzantine budgetary system — and the reason it drives some business leaders nuts — was on full display Monday as legislature's Joint Budget Committee received the quarterly economic forecast for the state.

The overall news was fairly positive, as leaders from both the nonpartisan Legislative Council and Gov. John Hickenlooper’s Office of State Planning and Budgeting said that while falling oil prices and a shaky global economy might slow the growth rate of recent years, Colorado will continue to add jobs and tax revenues quickly enough to grow state budget revenues between 6 and 7 percent next year.

Knowing exactly what that growth rate will be and when forecasters will have a degree of certainty on it could have major repercussions on the state's fiscal-year 2016-17 budget, which JBC members will start to assemble later this year.   Read on…


USDOT, More Business Groups Push for Bill Action as Congress Juggles Deadlines

AASHTO Journal

September 18, 2015

Top officials from the U.S. Department of Transportation pressed Congress to pass a substantive long-term surface transportation bill before 2015 runs out, while scores of industry groups urged lawmakers to end a cycle of short extensions and provide the economic lift a long-term bill can bring.

Increasingly in recent days, lawmakers focused on a range of other looming issues with closer deadlines, including the need to agree on a government-wide funding plan before the Sept. 30 end of the fiscal year or face a potential government shutdown.

House Transportation Chairman Bill Shuster, R-Pa., has not yet scheduled a markup session for his committee's version of a long-term highway, transit and rail programs authorization. He has said he expects that to occur late this month or early in October.

Congress will also need to extend the Federal Aviation Administration, whose authority is set to expire that same day, to avoid interrupting some of its programs that affect a number of state departments of transportation. Politico reported that Senate Commerce Chairman John Thune, R-S.D., said he and Shuster have been discussing how to move an FAA extension, perhaps by attaching it to a short-term government funding bill.

The Highway Trust Fund is authorized through Oct. 29, which takes it past the Sept. 30 end of the federal fiscal year and would leave the Federal Highway Administration unaffected during a possible government shutdown before then.   Read on…


Ports to Plains highway project is coming

News Channel 10

September 15, 2015

It’s known as Ports-to-Plains and it will provide a modern highway network that stretches from Texas’s border with Mexico all the way into the Canadian plains.  Eventually.

The project isn’t done yet, but according to Michael Reeves, president of the Ports-to-Plains Alliance, much of the highway improvements – in Texas, at least – has been completed.

Reeves, who lives in Lubbock, has led the alliance – which he said is a 501 c 6 non-profit organization – for about a dozen years. He’s a Lubbock native, a journalism graduate from Texas Tech University and he’s an energetic advocate for this massive highway project.

The alliance comprises local officials representing cities, counties and chambers of commerce in communities stretching all the way from Mazatlán, on Mexico’s Pacific Coast, to Alberta, Reeves said.

“One of our goals is to relieve some of the heavy truck traffic from Interstate 35,” Reeves said. Expanding and improving the highway through Texas and north into the rest of the Great Plains would divert traffic that’s now moving along I-35 that most officials believe is causing considerable congestion headaches, Reeves said.  Read on…


What the latest Highway Trust Fund ticker tells us

U.S. Department of Transportation - When we published our latest Highway Trust Fund ticker last month, it created some confusion.  Some observers misconstrued the numbers to indicate that the Highway Account of the Trust Fund will be “out of the woods” for many months to come.  That is hardly the case.  Indeed, the trust fund could be facing rocky seas and therefore need additional funding from Congress before the end of the year, potentially as soon as this coming November.

With the recent funding infusion that Congress authorized in July, we anticipate the cash balance of the highway account staying above zero until June 2016, but that is far from the whole story.

Given the volatility of revenues and expenditures and the uncertainty of very micro-level projections, DOT must consider employing methods to conserve cash once the balance of the highway account falls below a prudent threshold. The latest transfer from the General Fund keeps the account's cash balance above the prudent level of $4 billion, but only until November 2015.   Read on…


T&I Chairman Bill Shuster: Short-Term Extension Likely

Transportation Topics

September 10, 2015

Pete Marovich/Bloomberg NewsHouse Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Bill Shuster (R-Pa.) was quoted in a Washington, D.C., news publication as saying the chamber likely will move ahead with a short-term highway funding extension this fall. "We are going to have to do a short term extension … on FAA and probably on highway," he told the Washington Examiner in an article published Sept. 9. Current funding authority for highway programs expires Oct. 29.   Read on…


Milton Pax Ask City For A Resolution in Support of a Constitutional Amendment 

Milton Pax is a member of the Board of Directors of the Ports-to-Plains Alliance.  Ports-to-Plains Alliance supports the passage of Proposition 7 in Texas.

High Plains Observer

September 10, 2015

Milton Pax has always been passionate about our roads in the Texas Panhandle. In fact in 2010 Milton Pax was named Road Hand of the Year. Milton Pax is among those names of Road Hand award recipients that are inscribed on the Road Hand Hall of Honor plaque that hangs in the foyer of the historic Dewitt C. Green Highway Building in Austin.

Tuesday he stepped in front of the City Commissioners at their meeting to ask them to support Proposition 7 that will be on this November's ballot.

Mr. Pax said that Texas used to have the best roads in the country but that isn't the case anymore.

The purpose of Prop 7 is to provide a new, stable source of funding for transportation in Texas, dedicated to the construction and maintenance of roads. Upon passage, Prop 7 will dedicate a portion of the general sales and use tax and the motor vehicle sales tax to the general highway fund. Voting yes on proposition 7 will NOT raise your taxes.   Read on…