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Ports-to-Plains Alliance

Tuesday
May082018

Draft Environmental Impact Statement Available for US 85 on the Theodore Roosevelt Expressway in North Dakota

The DRAFT EIS is available for download here.  Public comment is open until June 25.

Preferred Alternative at U.S. Highway 85 and ND 200

Historic Long X Bridge up for adoption as part of Highway 85 expansion

by Bismarck Tribune

The North Dakota Department of Transportation is proposing to remove the historic Long X Bridge and is seeking a public or private agency to adopt one or more segments of the structure.

The announcement Monday came as the agency published the draft environmental impact statement for the proposed expansion of U.S. Highway 85 in western North Dakota.

Proponents of the highway expansion say a four-lane highway is needed to improve safety due to increased oil traffic, but others have raised concerns about impacts to the 7-mile stretch through the Badlands and the North Unit of Theodore Roosevelt National Park.

The Department of Transportation’s preferred alternative is to expand Highway 85 between Interstate 94 and Watford City to a divided, four-lane highway with a depressed center median.

The roadway footprint through the Badlands segment would be reduced as much as possible and three wildlife crossings are proposed to minimize impacts, the agency said in documents now available for public comment.

The agency studied three options for the Long X Bridge that crosses the Little Missouri River near the entrance of the national park.

One option was to retain the Long X Bridge for an alternate use and construct a new four-lane bridge adjacent to it. The agency also studied rehabilitating the Long X Bridge, including increasing its clearance, and building a new two-lane bridge next to it.

Read on...

Monday
May072018

Hale County sees more economic development with Xcel wind farm

From Lubbock Avalanche-Journal

PLAINVIEW - Xcel Energy is bringing more jobs to Hale County with the development of the Hale Wind Project, which received verbal approval from the Public Utility Commission of Texas last week.

Construction on the 478-megawatt project is scheduled to begin in June, according to a news release from Xcel Energy. The wind farm will create 300 jobs during development and between 17 and 22 full-time positions once the facility is operational.

Wanzek Construction, the builder of the wind farm, held a job fair at the offices of the Texas Workforce Commission in Plainview Wednesday to begin hiring workers for the project.

Wes Reeves, a spokesman for Xcel Energy in Texas and New Mexico, said the company expects to receive written approval for the project from the commission next week, at which point further plans to hire and move forward with construction will be announced.

Executive Director of the Plainview and Hale County Economic Development Corporation Mike Fox said a wind power distribution and logistics facility owned by BNSF Logistics opened in the county in 2015, but there were other opportunities for the area to enter the wind energy market.

“Yet in Hale County proper, we don’t have a wind farm,” Fox said. “All of that is about to change with this project.

“Finally we’re going to get some activity that will directly benefit the citizens of Hale County. We’re tickled to death.”

Read on…

Wednesday
May022018

Colo. House Democrats eye late overhaul on transportation

"It is time to solve Colorado’s transportation crisis. For too long, the issue has been avoided or ignored, while our state has seen massive population growth. Due to our growth without action, we are seeing more traffic accidents, more congestion and growing costs to doing business in our state. That’s why we are writing you to urge you to pass Senate Bill 1 – the compromise transportation funding measure that passed the State Senate with a unanimous 35-0 vote." from letter sent by two dozen business groups House and Senate leaders Tuesday

by Colorado Politics

With a week left in the legislative session, Colorado House Democrats are poised to introduce a major overhaul to a transportation bill that passed the state Senate unanimously more than a month ago.

The change is significant. Rather than asking for permission to borrow $3.5 billion and repay it with $250 million a year from the state budget, as the Senate agreed to, House Democrats want a pay-as-they-go proposal that doesn’t threaten money for education.

Democrats are concerned that locking in that amount of money to repay bonds each year would mean less money for schools and social services in an economic downturn.

“We felt that Senate Bill 1, as it currently is, is like buying a new house without getting a new job first and saving for it,” said Rep. Faith Winter, D-Thornton, chair of the House Transportation Committee. “We’re mortgaging our future.

“This (amendment) is a responsible way to show the voters in the state of Colorado and everyone else involved that we care about transportation.”

The Democrats’ amendment would use $495 million already set aside in this year’s budget, then pledge $166 million from the budget for each of the next five years. But lawmakers would not be bound by the agreement.

The state also wouldn’t borrow any money under the proposal.

Sandra Hagen Solin, a government relations strategist at law firm Kutak Rock who leads the statewide business coalition called Fix Our Roads, said the proposal means the state can’t invest in major projects such as widening interstates, which is a priority for those stuck in traffic jams on interstates 25 and 70.

“With growth in the economy this year, we’ve got the necessary funds to have an aggressive strategy for transportation,” she said.

Read on…

Wednesday
May022018

Colo. House Democrats eye late overhaul on transportation

"It is time to solve Colorado’s transportation crisis. For too long, the issue has been avoided or ignored, while our state has seen massive population growth. Due to our growth without action, we are seeing more traffic accidents, more congestion and growing costs to doing business in our state. That’s why we are writing you to urge you to pass Senate Bill 1 – the compromise transportation funding measure that passed the State Senate with a unanimous 35-0 vote." from letter sent by two dozen business groups to legislative leaders to House and Senate leaders Tuesday

by Colorado Politics

With a week left in the legislative session, Colorado House Democrats are poised to introduce a major overhaul to a transportation bill that passed the state Senate unanimously more than a month ago.

The change is significant. Rather than asking for permission to borrow $3.5 billion and repay it with $250 million a year from the state budget, as the Senate agreed to, House Democrats want a pay-as-they-go proposal that doesn’t threaten money for education.

Democrats are concerned that locking in that amount of money to repay bonds each year would mean less money for schools and social services in an economic downturn.

“We felt that Senate Bill 1, as it currently is, is like buying a new house without getting a new job first and saving for it,” said Rep. Faith Winter, D-Thornton, chair of the House Transportation Committee. “We’re mortgaging our future.

“This (amendment) is a responsible way to show the voters in the state of Colorado and everyone else involved that we care about transportation.”

The Democrats’ amendment would use $495 million already set aside in this year’s budget, then pledge $166 million from the budget for each of the next five years. But lawmakers would not be bound by the agreement.

The state also wouldn’t borrow any money under the proposal.

Sandra Hagen Solin, a government relations strategist at law firm Kutak Rock who leads the statewide business coalition called Fix Our Roads, said the proposal means the state can’t invest in major projects such as widening interstates, which is a priority for those stuck in traffic jams on interstates 25 and 70.

“With growth in the economy this year, we’ve got the necessary funds to have an aggressive strategy for transportation,” she said.

Read on…

Wednesday
May022018

Plainview-Hale County Business Park Announcement

The City of Plainview, Hale County and Plainview-Hale County EDC will announce their first tenant for the new Business Park.

Tuesday, May 8th
2:00 PM. – Press Conference
Plainview-Hale County EDC Building
1906 W. 5th Street
Plainview, TX

Scheduled attendees include Plainview Mayor Wendell Dunlap; Hale County Judge Bill Coleman; EDC President, V.O. Ortega as well as representatives of the tenant company.

Tuesday
May012018

Public Meeting on FY 2019-2022 Rural Transportation Improvement Program for the Odessa District

Where:

James Rooney Memorial Park
Small Community Hall
State Highway 285
Fort Stockton, TX 79735

When:

Thursday, May 10, 2018
5-7 p.m.

Purpose:

The purpose of the public meeting is to receive comments on the FY 2019-2022 Rural Transportation Improvement Program for the Odessa District. The district includes Andrews, Crane, Ector, Loving, Martin, Midland, Pecos, Reeves, Terrell, Upton, Ward and Winkler counties.

Description:

The TIP is a mechanism used by TxDOT and FHWA to fund projects for the next four years and includes all federally funded projects. This meeting is being held pursuant to Title 43, Texas Administrative Code, Section 16.102, which calls for an opportunity for public comment concerning the program.

Persons with disabilities who plan to attend this meeting and who may need auxiliary aides or services such as interpreters for persons who are deaf or hearing impaired, readers, large print or Braille are requested to call (432) 498-4746 so that appropriate arrangements can be made. For those who can’t attend the meeting, the exhibits will be available for review 15 days before and after the meeting. The exhibits are available online and at the following locations:

Andrews Maintenance Office, 1000 S. Main, Andrews
McCamey Maintenance Office, 830 W. 5th St., McCamey
Monahans Maintenance Office, 3411 S. Stockton, Monahans
Odessa District Office, 3901 E. Highway 80, Odessa
Pecos Maintenance Office, 197 South Frontage Road I-20 West, Pecos
Sanderson Maintenance Office, 53 N. US Highway 285 Sanderson

Public comments, both verbal and written, may be submitted at the meeting. Written comments may also be mailed to the Texas Department of Transportation, Attention: Robert Ornelas, P.E., 3901 East Highway 80, Odessa, Texas, 79761. To be considered, a 15 day public comment period to submit written comments will close at 5:00 p.m. on May 25, 2016.

Contact:

TxDOT Odessa District
3901 East Highway 80
Odessa, TX 79761
(432) 498-4746

Tuesday
May012018

Access to International Trade Critical for Colorado Ranchers and Farmers

This message could be from any Commissioner of Agriculture across the Ports-to-Plains Alliance Region. Trade agreements and exports are critical to agriculture and many other economic sectors.  We cannot eat all the good we produce and cannot use all the technology we produce.

“The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) is vital for the well-being of Colorado and the United States. As U.S. farm incomes decline, the export market is often what keeps our rural communities afloat.”

Let’s Not Take a Step Back

By Don Brown, Colorado Commissioner of Agriculture

If you live in Colorado, or if your business is touched in any way by any aspect of the agricultural industry, the ongoing national discussion about trade agreements and import tariffs should mean a lot to you. Colorado farmers and ranchers understand that there are a lot of things like weather and market price fluctuations that we can’t control. But we can make every effort to create new market opportunities and expand the global partnerships we have worked so hard to develop for our products.

We all need to work together to protect our state’s position in international markets. The Colorado farm community can’t afford to wait quietly for Washington to put forth a comprehensive trade strategy.  While we wait, our global competitors are moving aggressively to formalize trade pacts to put them at a competitive advantage to the U.S. It’s not right to force our hard-working farmers and ranchers to stand idle while this political drama plays out.

Colorado ranchers and farmers need free and open access to international markets, as well as trade agreements that help us advance our export relationships. Over the last few years, Colorado agriculture helped lead our state out of the Great Recession, the worst recession since the Great Depression, and a big part of that was our ability to trade with over 100 countries who purchase Colorado food and agricultural products.  Exports of food and agricultural products from Colorado have quadrupled in the past 20 years.

Agriculture is one of Colorado’s top economic sectors, creating approximately 173,000 jobs in our state.  And it’s not just farm and ranch families impacted by the free trade discussion.  If our markets are shut down, it will impact the dealerships where farmers buy farm equipment, the coffee shops where they eat lunch, the gas stations where they fuel up, and the banks where they do business.  According to the U.S. International Trade Administration, every billion dollars of exports supports more than 5,220 jobs. And every dollar of exports creates an additional $1.14 of economic activity for Colorado citizens.

Read on…

Monday
Apr302018

USDOT Announces BUILD Program to Replace TIGER

The U.S. Department of Transportation has announced a replacement for the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery grants, a program popular with state and local agencies.

On April 20, DOT published a notice of funding opportunity for $1.5 billion through the Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development discretionary grant, or BUILD, program.

Although BUILD would replace the TIGER program, the two bear some similarities. Like TIGER grants, BUILD money would be awarded on a competitive basis to local or regional entities. The funding would support roads, bridges, transit, rail, ports or intermodal transportation.

“BUILD transportation grants will help communities revitalize their surface transportation systems while also increasing support for rural areas to ensure that every region of our country benefits,” Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao said.

According to a notice on DOT’s website, applicants will be assessed on the basis of safety, economic competitiveness, quality of life, environmental protection, innovation, partnership and additional nonfederal revenue for future transportation infrastructure investments.

Read on…