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Ports-to-Plains Alliance

Thursday
Jun082017

Business coalition will not seek road-tax hike from voters in 2017

Denver Business Journal

June 8, 2017

Transportation advocates will not ask voters to raise taxes for roads and transit this year, but will keep their business-centric coalition together with an eye on putting a proposed funding measure on the 2018 Colorado ballot.

Tony Milo, executive director of the Colorado Contractors Association, said the decision came down to two primary factors.

First, the ballot initiatives that have received title approval for the 2017 ballot did not contemplate the late-session passage by the Legislature of Senate Bill 267, which directed $1.88 billion to transportation. Second, the coalition put most of its efforts into trying to pass a failed legislative bill that would have directed such a sales-tax increase to the ballot, and they were too far behind on getting signatures needed to qualify for this election.

Gov. John Hickenlooper signed SB 267 on May 30.

“We are staying together, we are continuing to do public education and we are setting our sights toward 2018,” Milo said Wednesday.

Read on...

Wednesday
Jun072017

Trump to Outline Infrastructure Plan That Includes Rural Funding

Bloomberg Politics

 June 7, 2017

U.S.President Donald Trump will outline his vision on Wednesday for an infrastructure plan that includes federal grants to rural areas as well as to states and localities to create additional funding for projects, according to a preview of the speech provided by the White House.

Trump is scheduled to speak in Cincinnati as part of what the White House has billed as a week-long effort to formally launch the initiative to deliver the $1 trillion in infrastructure investment he has promised to upgrade crumbling roads, bridges, airports and other assets.

The president proposes allocating $200 billion in federal funding over 10 years to spur at least an additional $800 billion in spending by states, municipalities and the private sector. The federal funds will be divided into four categories:

* A mixture of grants and loans to “transformative’’ projects, with Trump’s proposal to place the U.S. air-traffic control system under a private, non-profit corporation as an example.

* Grants to rural areas to repair bridges, roads, and waterways. Critics of Trump’s approach have raised concerns that rural areas would not be able to use tolls or fees needed to attract private investment.

* Enhanced loan programs, with the Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act, or TIFIA, as an example of how federal funds can be used with state, local, and private dollars to fund projects.

* Incentive programs with grants to states and municipalities to create additional funding for infrastructure.

Wednesday
May312017

Trucking groups question Trump’s push for highway privatization

Commercial Carrier Journal

May 31, 2017

President Donald Trump’s proposed budget for the 2018 fiscal year has drawn tepid reactions from some trucking groups, particularly over his call for allowing greater tolling efforts on U.S. Interstates.

Trump’s budget, as noted Monday, proposes removing the ban on tolling existing Interstate lanes, according to most interpretations, along with slashing billions from the Department of Transportation’s annual budget, greater privatization of public rest stops and attempts to drum up investment from private companies for highway projects.

Several trucking groups, however, have balked at Trump’s proposal to fund highways via tolls, as have anti-toll groups, obviously. Others, such as the International Bridge, Turnpike and Tunnel Association, have expressed tepid support, arguing any step toward boosting highway funding is better than no steps.

Read on...

Tuesday
May302017

2017 Energy and Agriculture Summit to be Held in Denver

Everything Lubbock

May 30, 2017

The Ports-To-Plains Alliance announced today it will host the 2017 Energy and Agriculture Summit June 13-14 in Denver, Colorado.

Organizations and individuals focused on energy and agriculture will have an opportunity to learn more about these critical economic drivers through dynamic panel discussions, keynote speakers and industry networking event
“The goal of the 2017 Energy and Agriculture Summit is to tell our economic story of energy and agriculture productivity,” explains Michael Reeves, president of the Ports-To-Plains Alliance. “The Summit will give industry leaders a platform to discuss pressing issues and learn how together, we can drive change.”
The 2017 Energy and Agriculture Summit, which will be held at the Denver Airport Marriott at Gateway Park, offers a great opportunity to foster innovation, cooperation and success across the Ports-To-Plains region.

Wednesday
May242017

Trump slips infrastructure plan into budget

Politico

May 24, 2017

The Trump administration finally laid out its long-promised vision for a $1 trillion national infrastructure plan Tuesday — with nary a peep of fanfare and the president not even in the country to talk it up.

It arrived as a six-page fact sheet packaged with President Donald Trump’s $4.1 trillion proposed 2018 budget. As expected, it laid out a vision for $200 billion in direct federal spending over the next decade on needs such as roads, bridges, tunnels, railroads and expanded broadband, along with incentives for states, cities and private investors and efforts to reduce the burdens of regulations. 

“The administration’s goal is to seek long-term reform on how infrastructure projects are regulated, funded, delivered and maintained,” Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao told reporters Tuesday. She said the administration expects “to have more details forthcoming,” including a legislative package later this year, but described the concepts handed out.

Read on...

Tuesday
May232017

Infrastructure Triage: Fix the Bottlenecks

Real Clear Policy

May 23, 2017

Our nation’s economy relies on the continuous and efficient movement of goods and people, but the current condition of our nation’s infrastructure puts that at risk. The American Society of Civil Engineers gave America’s infrastructure a D+ on its 2017 report card. Among the recipients of the lowest marks were the nation’s highways, which the report described as “often crowded, frequently in poor condition, chronically underfunded, and are becoming more dangerous.”

For decades, we have relied on the Highway Trust Fund, which is funded primarily by the federal fuel tax, to help repair and maintain our nation’s roads and bridges. But the federal fuel tax has remained flat since 1993 and has been unable to keep pace with demands. By 2020, the Highway Trust Fund — originally intended to be a sustainable revenue source financed by users of the system — will be insolvent. And despite attempts to make up the shortfall, the fund is running on fumes today.

Tuesday
May232017

Heartland Expressway gaining traction in Washington

Scottsbluff Star Herald

May 23, 2017

Deb Cottier, Heartland Expressway AssociationWith chatter of President Trump’s proposed $1 trillion-infrastructure package, The Heartland Expressway is gaining traction on Capitol Hill, according to Daniel Bennett of Panhandle Area Development District and Scottsbluff City Manager Nathan Johnson.

Bennett, Johnson and Kimball City Administrator Dan Dean participated in a fly-in to the nation’s capital at the end of April, joining a delegation from the Ports-to-Plains Alliance. Ports-to-Plains is a grassroots organization of over 275 communities and businesses, including the Heartland Expressway, the Theodore Roosevelt Expressway in North and South Dakota, and the Eastern Alberta (Canada) Trade Corridor Coalition. Their goal is to advocate for a robust international transportation infrastructure to promote economic security and prosperity throughout North America’s energy and agricultural heartland including Mexico to Canada.

Monday
May152017

Signs of oil boomlet in North Dakota after pipeline finished

Calgary Herald

May 15, 2017 

 BISMARCK, N.D. — There are hundreds more jobs than takers in the heart of North Dakota's oil patch. Finding a hotel room, parking space or table at a restaurant is no longer easy.

More than two years after the state's unprecedented oil bonanza fizzled to a lull, North Dakota — the nation's No. 2 oil producer behind Texas — is experiencing a sort of boomlet that has pushed daily production back above 1 million barrels daily.

"There is a long-term optimism that was not here just a year ago," said Williston Republican Sen. Brad Bekkedahl, whose western North Dakota district is in the epicenter of the state's oil-producing region.

Industry officials and others say the uptick comes from a bump in crude prices, regulatory certainty with the more drill-friendly Trump administration, better technology, and the prospect of nearly half of the state's crude coursing through the disputed Dakota Access Pipeline, which could open markets abroad where top prices are typically fetched.

Read on... 

*North Dakota State Senator Brad Bekkedahl is a member of the Ports-to-Plains Alliance Board of Directors.