This project began in the mid 1990s when Don Morrison, then Transportation Commissioner and then Regional Transportation Director John Umbuest were able to fund and get constructed the first section of this project, the concrete Super 2 profile between Limon and Hugo. That initial project set the bar for the establishment of the U.S. 40/287 Strategic (7th Pot) Project. CDOT has maintained that commitment through multiple governors, CDOT officials and Transportation Commission members.
Below are three items that address the event: (1) Link to the Colorado Department of Transportation Media Release which outlines the historical context of the Colorado Strategic Project; (2) Excerpts from the comments of John Cater, Division Administrator for the Federal Highway Administration in Colorado; and (3) Ports-to-Plains Alliance comments by Joe Kiely, Vice President of Operations.
“CDOT has reconstructed 24 segments of U.S. 40/287 between the Oklahoma border and Limon since 1991 (see attached corridor map below). Those reconstructions, in most instances, have consisted of removing the existing asphalt roadway, replacing it with concrete, and upgrading it to a “super-two” configuration – a wider, two-lane highway, with occasional passing lanes and wider shoulders. “
Colorado Department of Transportation
August 2, 2012
The Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT), Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and Ports-to-Plains Alliance celebrated the grand opening of U.S. 40/287 through the Town of Kit Carson at a ribbon cutting ceremony today, signifying the completion of the Ports-to-Plains Corridor on its original alignment in Colorado.
“It is exciting to see the completion of the final Ports-to-Plains project in Colorado,” said Division Administrator for the FHWA in Colorado, John Cater. “This is a vital freight corridor which will provide long-term economic benefits for Colorado and all the states along the corridor.”
U.S. 287 between the Oklahoma border (including U.S. 40 between Limon and Kit Carson) and Denver is Colorado’s portion of the Ports-to-Plains route. As one of Colorado’s 28 Strategic Transportation Projects primarily funded by voter-approved TRANS (Transportation Anticipation Notes) bonds in 1999, its reconstruction was of primary importance due to its current and future use as a major truck route, its connection to Mexico and potential to attract and serve markets associated with NAFTA and international trade.
Excerpts from FHWA Comments
John Cater, Division Administrator for the Federal Highway Administration in Colorado
August 2, 2012
- The Federal Highway Administration – Along with CDOT and all the other groups involved in supporting Ports-to-Plains in Colorado – is very pleased to see this long-term project come to a successful conclusion.
- The reconstruction of the Ports-to-Plains Corridor in Colorado has been crucial for many years because of both its current and future importance as a major truck route – but also because of its connection to international markets in Mexico, and all the potential it has to attract and serve markets associated with NAFTA and international trade – now and in the future.
- Ports-to-Plains is part of the National Highway System and is a designated “High-priority corridor” – one of 80 routes across the country so designated because of its importance for national, state and local economic development.
- Proof of that importance is how much truck traffic uses it. Heavy truck traffic averages 30 to 50% on this route, with some segments averaging nearly 60%, making it a critical corridor for commerce, playing a key role in the health of our economy. So improving and rebuilding it was of prime economic importance.
- When you look at the list of Economic Development Groups and chambers of commerce associated with Ports-to-Plains, you see a wide array of such groups listed for this 1,400 mile corridor. That’s a testament to how others outside the transportation community see this corridor in economic importance as well.
- In addition, Ports-to-Plains provides a unifying link to other corridors dedicated to economic development through – among other things – the movement of freight, including the Heartland Expressway, the Theodore Roosevelt Expressway and the Camamex Corridor.
Comments from Ports-to-Plains Alliance
Joe Kiely, Vice President of Operations
This event is not about this piece of concrete. This piece of concrete is a milestone in the development of a corridor that connects urban and rural communities. It is part of a corridor that connects agriculture products, energy equipment, and manufactured goods to markets domestically and internationally to leading markets in Mexico and Canada. It is part of a corridor that moves tourists to the destinations including our purple mountain majesties and our amber waves of grain. It is part of a corridor that provides an alternative to the congested Interstate 25 corridor. Years ago the Colorado Transportation Commission’s Resolution TC-796 stated: “CDOT is committed to diverting traffic from congested segments of I-25 through infrastructure improvement in eastern Colorado and views the Ports to Plains Program as an opportunity to pursue such goals.” It is part of a corridor that moves our common economy.
This milestone is a reminder of the ongoing commitment of the state of Colorado and the Colorado Department of Transportation to fulfill it its vision of its 28 Strategic Projects from 1997. Not only does this complete the US 40/287 commitment but during the same period the entirely of Interstate 70 from Tower Road to Limon was completed.
This milestone is a symbol of the partnership between the Federal and state government to support interstate commerce through the transportation system. The Ports-to-Plains Alliance strongly supports the continuation of that partnership.
This milestone is a reminder of the many hands it has taken to get these projects completed. Naming names is a dangerous practice but seems to me that it is needful to understand the commitment demonstrated with this project. Colorado has had four governors since this project was initiated: Roy Romer, Bill Owens, Bill Ritter and John Hickenlooper. CDOT has had four Executive Directors: Ray Chamberlin, Tom Norton, Bill Vidal, Russ George, and Don Hunt. The Transportation Commission has changed its face considerably with Doug Aden and Steve Parker as the longest tenured. Commission District 10 has seen Tony Fortino, George Tempel and now Gilbert Ortiz serving the Southeast district and Don Morrison, Bob Hawthorne, Kim Killian and now Steven Hofmeister serving District 11 in the Northeast district.
Regional Transportation Directors in Regions 1 and 2 have been key partners reaching this milestone: From John Umbuest, Matt Reay, Jeff Kullman and now Tony DeVito in Region 1 to Ken Conyers, Bob Torres, Tim Harris and now Tom Wrona in Region 2, these RTDs balance not only the construction projects but the politics to accomplish milestones like this. Resident engineers, design and construction engineers and other CDOT staff all have their fingerprints on this milestone.
The Ports-to-Plains Alliance and its member communities look forward to continuing efforts to expand this corridor’s opportunities and commits to continue supporting the need for expanding transportation revenue at both the state and federal levels.
Ports-to-Plains moving the economy forward!