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Saturday
Oct012011

House Leaders Looking for Extra Revenue to Avoid Slashing Highway & Transit Programs  

Click here for complete article > AASTHO

September 30, 2011

House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman John Mica, R-Florida, has been given a green light from House Republican leadership to seek additional revenue for a multiyear surface transportation reauthorization bill that could avoid a 34% cut proposed in a House budget earlier this year, according to several media reports in the past week.

"Republican leaders in the House of Representatives are willing to try and find more money for highway and bridge construction and transit upgrades as part of long-term transportation funding legislation," Reuters reported. Mica "recently received a commitment from leadership to help identify new sources of funding to try to ensure that budgeting over a six-year period would at least meet today's spending levels, a senior congressional aide told Reuters."…

Saturday
Oct012011

Media Coverage of Texas Funding for Ports-to-Plains

Ports-to-Plains money comes to the region

Lubbock Avalanche Journal

September 29, 2011

AUSTIN - The areas surrounding Lubbock and Amarillo will receive nearly half of more than $230 million approved by the Texas Transportation Commission Thursday for new highway projects…

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State OKs $60M for area road projects

Amarillo Globe-News

September 29, 2011

AUSTIN ­— The Texas Transportation Commission on Thursday approved more than $230 million in funding for Ports-to-Plains Corridor projects, with the Amarillo and Lubbock areas getting nearly half of the allocated money…

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$23M slated for work on area highways

San Angelo Standard Times

September 29, 2011

SAN ANGELO, Texas — City and state engineers have long recognized a need for improving rural highways and now have some money in the bank to do so.

The Texas Transportation Commission on Thursday approved $3 billion in Proposition 12 bond funding to address congested highways, rehabilitate bridges and improve connectivity among the state's major cities.

The conversion to a "Super 2"highway — where motorists are able to pass at reasonable intervals in either direction — is a step closer to the overall goal of the Ports-to-Plains building four-lane highways from Texas borders to Alberta, Canada…

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Big Spring relief route gets $63.7M

Big Spring Herald

September 30, 2011

The Big Spring truck reliever route is another step closer to reality as the Texas Transportation Commission on Thursday approved $63.7 million for the long-anticipated project.

The funds were a portion of the $230 million approved for projects on the Ports-to-Plains Corridor, which will run from Mexico north to Canada. A major portion of the route utilizes U.S. Highway 87. Locally, the corridor would bypass Big Spring to the west near the McMahon-Wrinkle Airpark. The bypass has created controversy because some local businesses owners believe it will take business away from Big Spring. Others note the corridor will route heavy truck traffic away from the central portion of the city…

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State Highway 349 widening project receives approval

Midland Reporter-Telegram

September 29, 2011

The widening of a portion of State Highway 349 to four lanes was among the projects approved Thursday by the Texas Transportation Commission.

The commission approved more than $230 million in funding for projects on the Ports-to-Plains Corridor at its meeting in Austin. As part of that, it agreed to invest $25.9 million in expanding of Highway 349 to four lanes between Midland County and the Dawson County line…

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Road Construction Projects Coming to the Basin

NewsWest 9 - KWES-TV

September 29, 2011

ODESSA- On Thursday, the Texas Transportation Commission approved more than $230-million dollars in funds for road projects throughout Texas, including in the Permian Basin.

The project is called the Ports-to-Plains.

This project was actually approved by voters back in 2007 through Proposition 12 and now construction is finally kicking off…

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State Approves Funding for Congested Corridors, Bridges

MyHighPlains.com

September 28, 2011

In West Texas, $230 million, $57 million in the Amarillo District, will improve trade connections on the Ports to Plains corridor with improvements funded on U.S. 87, U.S. 277, and State Highway 349.  Ports to Plains projects in the Amarillo District are:…

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Ports-to-Pains Construction Projects Receive State Funding

KFYO-AM

September 29, 2011

TxDOT and the Texas Transportation Commission this morning approved more than $230 million dollars in funding for Ports-to-Plains Corridor construction projects.  The funding is among $1.4 billion dollars in transportation construction funded by Proposition 12 bonds.

The construction on the Ports-to-Plains projects should start next summer.  The construction approved for the Lubbock TxDOT District: a US Highway 87 overpass at Woodrow Road at a cost of $10 million; reconstruction of the I-27 frontage roads in Plainview at a cost of $17 million and an upgrade to State Highway 349 from the Martin County Line to Lamesa at a cost of $8 million….

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$57 milllion approved for Panhandle roadways

KVII-TV ConnectAmarillo.com

September 29, 2011

In the Amarillo District, the money will be used to improve trade connection on the Ports to Plains corridor. That includes U.S. 87, U.S. 277 and State Highway 349…

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DFW to get $856 million for transportation projects

Fort Worth Star-Telegram

October 1, 2011

In West Texas, $230 million was directed to the Ports to Plains corridor, including U.S. 87, U.S. 277 and Texas 349. The program should help assuage concerns about whether transportation funds were being handled fairly statewide, commission member Bill Meadows of Fort Worth said…

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State allocates $42.4 million for Big Country highway projects

Abilene Reporter-News

September 30, 2011

In West Texas, $230 million will improve trade connections on the Ports to Plains corridor with improvements funded on U.S. 87, U.S. 277 and State Highway 349…

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State approves funding for congested corridors, bridges

The Navasota Examiner

September 30, 2011

In West Texas, $230 million will improve trade connections on the Ports to Plains corridor with improvements funded on US 87, US 277, and State Highway 349. ..

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BUSINESS BRIEFS

Pueblo Chieftain

September 30, 2011

AMARILLO, Texas — The Ports-to-Plains highway corridor improvement project that extends through Eastern Colorado recently received a funding boost from Texas ...

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Highway 349 Expansion Approved

CBS7 News

September 30, 2011

The Texas Transportation Commission approved the expansion of Highway 349 yesterday.

Gene Powell with TXDOT says this allows them to move forward with drawing up plans to expand the highway from Dawson County to Lamesa to four lanes…

Thursday
Sep292011

Phil Wilson Selected to Lead Texas Department of Transportation

Texas Department of Transportation

September 29, 2011

AUSTIN - During their regular monthly meeting Thursday, the Texas Transportation Commission selected Phil Wilson as the Texas Department of Transportation’s (TxDOT) 19th executive director, effective October 17, 2011. Wilson currently serves as senior vice president of public affairs for Luminant, an electric generation company headquartered in Dallas, and previously served as Texas Secretary of State.

As secretary, Wilson was responsible for elections and acted as the governor’s chief liaison on the Texas-Mexico border and issues with Mexico. He has also served as Chairman of the Governor’s Competitiveness Council, where Wilson helped identify ways the state could improve its economic position for continued long-term success. Wilson’s public service also includes time as an aide to U.S. Senator Phil Gramm and on the senior staff of Governor Rick Perry.

“Phil’s experience as a public servant and member of the Texas business community has prepared him well to lead the department as it continues to modernize,” said Ted Houghton, Texas Transportation commissioner and chair of the commission’s executive director search committee. “While TxDOT is certainly a national leader in transportation infrastructure development, there are opportunities for Phil to guide the department through this period of transition, emerging a more responsive and efficient organization.”

“I am honored to be selected as the next executive director of TxDOT. This is an agency with a rich history in successfully building for our future with dedicated employees,” said Wilson. “I look forward to working with the agency, Commission, Legislature and local communities on the most efficient and effective ways to build infrastructure for Texas.”

During his time as secretary of state, Wilson led a number of transportation-related programs, including the Border Colonia Access Program and the Texas Interagency Work Group on the Texas and Mexico Border Affairs initiative. The secretary of state also serves as the state’s chief economic development officer, and in that role, Wilson worked with TxDOT professionals in bringing new opportunities to the state.

As a chair of the Governor’s Competitiveness Council, Wilson and his colleagues made several transportation recommendations to improve the state’s competitiveness, including proposals to reexamine public-private partnerships, expand inland ports, repair and maintain the state’s existing infrastructure and advancement of rail relocation efforts.

Wilson succeeds Amadeo Saenz, Jr., who retired from state service at the end of August. Wilson is the department’s first executive director since legislation was passed in 2009 removing the requirement that the position be occupied by a professional engineer. He holds a bachelor’s degree from Hardin-Simmons University in Abilene and a master’s degree in business administration from Southern Methodist University.

For more information call TxDOT’s Government & Public Affairs Division at (512) 463-8700.

The Texas Department of Transportation

The Texas Department of Transportation is responsible for maintaining 80,000 miles of road and for supporting aviation, rail and public transportation across the state. TxDOT and its approximately 12,000 employees strive to empower local leaders to solve local transportation problems, and to use new financial tools, including tolling and public-private partnerships, to reduce congestion and pave the way for future economic growth while enhancing safety, improving air quality and preserving the value of the state's transportation assets. Find out more at www.txdot.gov. Fan us on Facebook www.facebook.com/txdot. Follow us on Twitter www.twitter.com/txdot.

Thursday
Sep292011

Information Open House October 13 for Heartland Expressway Corridor Plan

The Nebraska Department of Roads will hold an Information Open House Thursday, October 13, regarding preparation of a Corridor Development and Management Plan (CDMP) for the Heartland Expressway. The open house will be held from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. MDT at the Gering Civic Center, 2050 M Street, in Gering.

The Heartland Expressway, located between Denver, Colorado and Rapid City, South Dakota, is the middle section of the larger Ports-to-Plains Alliance Corridor that extends from Mexico to Canada. Approximately 200 miles of the Heartland Expressway’s 498 miles is located within Nebraska’s borders. The purpose of the project is to produce a coordinated long-term plan for future improvements to the Heartland Expressway corridor.

This plan will include: A coordinated corridor development plan and schedule, including a timetable for planning and development activities, environmental reviews and permits and construction of all segments; the results of an environmental overview; an analysis of corridor costs and benefits; a finance plan, including potential financing methods; the identification of impediments to the development and construction of the corridor, including potential environmental, social, political and economic objections.

The public meeting is being held to provide information and receive input regarding this study. All citizens are invited to attend and present relevant comments and questions.

Personnel from the State Department of Roads will be available to answer questions, receive comments and discuss any aspect of the plan.

Information regarding the plan will be available after the meeting on the NDOR website at http://www.roads.ne.gov/projects/heartland-exp/.

Thursday
Sep292011

TxDOT approves more than $230 million in Ports-to-Plains Projects

The Texas Transportation Commission approved more than $230 million in funding for projects on the Ports-to-Plains Corridor at their meeting in Austin today.  The projects were among $1.4 billion of projects funded statewide by Proposition 12 bonds.  Construction on most projects would begin next summer.

“We are excited to see this many projects move forward and we appreciate the Texas Transportation Commission seeing the importance of Ports-to-Plains to West Texas,” said Ports-to-Plains President Michael Reeves.  “We worked very closely with the local TxDOT districts to identify these projects, and are thrilled to take a significant step forward to improve the corridor.”

Texas voters approved Proposition 12 bonds, which are backed by the state’s general revenue not by fuel tax revenues, by a 63 percent margin in November 2007.  In July 2009 the Texas Legislature authorized TxDOT to go to contract on approximately $2 billion in general obligation bonds for highway improvements.  On Nov. 19, 2009, the Texas Transportation Commission directed TxDOT to issue approximately $2 billion in Proposition 12 bonds. Earlier this year the 82nd Legislature authorized TxDOT to issue another $1.4 billion in Proposition 12 bonds.  Most of that funding will be distributed to the 25 TxDOT districts on a formula basis for safety and rehabilitation projects.  Today the commission approved projects for the $1.4 billion in safety and rehabilitation projects.

Among the major projects approved are funding for a relief route in Big Spring, and upgrades to Loop 335 in Amarillo that serves as a relief route as well.  There are also several segments of the corridor that will be upgraded to “Super 2” highway.  Super 2 highway has alternating passing lanes at regular intervals to provide safe passing opportunities.

“With transportation funding already stretched thin, this injection of funding which voters approved through Prop 12 is probably about the only way we could tackle big projects like the Big Spring relief route, said Reeves.

“We remain committed to see the entire corridor upgraded to four-lane divided highway, but the Super 2 segments are a major upgrade as we move to full completion of the corridor.  It is much safer and more convenient, and will be a major improvement for the corridor,” said Reeves.

Reeves added that the continued support throughout West Texas for Ports-to-Plains was also key to this major accomplishment.

“From our members to our state and federal legislators and our TxDOT officials, we have worked hard to demonstrate the importance of the Ports-to-Plains Corridor.  This is a great victory for everyone who has worked for the corridor over the years.”

The projects on the Ports-to-Plains Corridor approved by the Texas Transportation Commission are:

Amarillo District Projects

  • US 87 from Moore County Line to US 385, upgrade to Super 2, $15 million
  • US 87 from Dumas to Hartley County Line, upgrade to Super 2, $11 million
  • Loop 335 from IH27 to IH 40, upgrade to 4-lane divided, $40.46 million

Lubbock District Projects

  • US 87 overpass at Woodrow Road, $10 million
  • IH 27 Plainview frontage road conversion, $17 million
  • SH 349 Martin County Line to Lamesa, upgrade to Super 2, 8 million

Abilene District Projects

  • US 87 Reliever Route at Big Spring, $63.7 million

Odessa District Projects

  • SH 349, 2 lane to 4 lane, reliever route to SH 176, $16.5 million
  • SH 349 2 lane to 4 lane, SH 176 to Dawson County Line, $9.4 million

San Angelo District Projects

  • US 277 and US 67 overpass, $4 million
  • US 277 from US 87 to Christoval, upgrade to Super 2, $2.5 million
  • US 277 from Christoval to Schleicher County Line, upgrade to Super 2, $5.3 million
  • US 277 from Schleicher County Line to Eldorado, upgrade to Super 2, $4.2 million
  • US 277 from Eldorado to Sutton County Line, upgrade to Super 2, $2.5 million
  • US 277 from Sutton County Line to Sonora, upgrade to Super 2, $2.8 million

Laredo District Projects

  • US 277, Maverick County, upgrade to Super 2, $3.3 million
  • US 277, Dimmitt County, upgrade to Super 2, $3.5 million
  • US 83, Dimmitt County, upgrade to Super 2, $8.9 million
  • US 83, Webb County, upgrade to Super 2, $3.5 million
Wednesday
Sep282011

Petition to Approve the Keystone XL Pipeline

Link to Petition

There's a petition on the White House website to approve the Keystone XL pipeline. It needs 150 signatures to be publicly searchable, and 5,000 to get an official response. Sign on, share with friends, and like this post if you support Keystone XL.

Tuesday
Sep272011

CEA: Keystone XL Will Benefit Nebraska

Consumer Energy Alliance

September 27, 2011

LINCOLN, NE – The State Department will hold a public hearing in Lincoln, Nebraska, today to give the public an opportunity to voice their opinions on the Keystone XL Pipeline project. In advance of the hearing, Consumer Energy Alliance (CEA) executive vice president Michael Whatley, who will also deliver public comments in Lincoln supporting Keystone XL, released the following statement:

"The Keystone XL pipeline will create more than 7,500 jobs in Nebraska and over 120,000 jobs across the United States. Even more, this project will generate over $11 million in state and local taxes for Nebraska and create $20 billion in economic growth nationwide. That’s a lot of money that will go to improving our public schools, our roads, and our hospitals.

"The 700,000 barrels of oil per day that this pipeline will bring to Gulf Coast refineries will be coming from places like Oklahoma, Montana, the Dakotas and Canada. It is not subject to violent revolutions like we have seen this year in Egypt and Libya. It is highly discounted from the prices we pay for oil from the Persian Gulf and will help drive down fuel prices for both our military and American drivers.

"The State Department’s extensive environmental review of the pipeline concluded that, in the currently proposed route, there is no scenario in which the Northern High Plains Aquifer would be adversely affected, and that alternative paths would 'disturb more land and cross more bodies of water than the proposed route.'

"Because it will be environmentally safe, create thousands of high paying jobs, significantly boost the U.S. economy, and enhance our energy security, CEA is urging – on behalf of energy consumers nationwide – for the Obama Administration to grant the Presidential Permit and allow the construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline."

 The 1,700-mile Keystone XL Pipeline project received approval from Canada’s National Energy Board in 2010, but the project also requires a Presidential Permit from the U.S. Department of State because it crosses an international border. In June, CEA delivered more than 62,000 public comments supporting the project to the U.S. Department of State, all of which came from people living in the six states through which the proposed pipeline will travel: Montana, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas.

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Consumer Energy Alliance (CEA) is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization, comprised of more than 160 affiliate members, including energy consumers and producers, and tens of thousands of consumer advocates, that supports the thoughtful utilization of energy resources to help ensure improved domestic and global energy security, stable prices for consumers and balanced energy policy for America.

The Ports-to-Plains Alliance is a member of the Consumer Energy Alliance.

Tuesday
Sep272011

Elected Official Letter Submitted at the Keystone XL Pipeline Hearing in Lincoln, NE

Lubbock, TX – In a letter to U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, forty-eight elected officials, including twenty-nine mayors, from six states in the Ports-to-Plains Alliance expressed their strong support for the Keystone XL Pipeline and urged the State Department to expeditiously approve the project.

In the letter, the elected officials highlighted how the pipeline is in the nation’s best interest, citing the project’s economic benefits for their constituents in the region:

“Keystone XL will provide significant economic benefits for our region.  The pipeline is expected to create approximately 20,000 manufacturing and construction jobs in the United States.  It could also generate more than $5.2 billion in tax revenue to the Keystone XL corridor states.  At a time when state and local governments across the country are struggling to balance their budgets, these employment and revenue benefits are critical to our region.”

Responding to the letter, Ports to Plains Alliance president Michael Reeves released the following statement:

“This letter clearly demonstrates the broad support for this pipeline across the region. We firmly believe that the Keystone XL Pipeline will not only bolster our national security by lessening our dependence on unreliable foreign sources of oil, but will also create jobs and generate revenue.”

 Keystone XL Letter by Elected Officials and BOD