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Ports-to-Plains Alliance

Entries in Critical Rural Freight Corridors (3)


TxDOT and Ports to Plains Alliance improve transportation in West Texas

Fox 34

June 9, 2017

LUBBOCK, Texas - The president traveled to Ohio touting a one trillion dollar infrastructure plan. TxDOT and the Ports to Plains Alliance discussed how to improve the transportation of goods here in the state.

The Ports to Plains corridor plays a big role as the new Texas Freight Mobility Plan is underway.

The transportation of goods across the state is a big part of our economy and the Texas Freight Mobility plan is a movement focusing on the transportation of those goods.

"The most important element of the plan is that it looks at how we can move goods," said Caroline Mays Section Director for Freight and International Trade for the Texas Department of Transportation. "That helps companies locate in Texas, stay in Texas, expand in Texas and also provides jobs for Texans and improve the quality of life. "

At the moment, the Ports to Plains corridor runs from Lubbock to Amarillo, but it could be much greater. 

"We have identified the Ports to Plains corridor as a principal corridor because it connects the Mexican border and goes all the way to Canada," Mays said. "In terms of moving goods, not just within the state, but also in a national and in a multi-state, it plays a key role."

 Read on...


FHWA releases Rural Freight Corridor Guideline

The Federal Highway Administration released guidelines this week for state departments of transportation to designate and certify Critical Rural Freight Corridors as part of a larger freight program that was included in the federal transportation authorization bill that was signed into law in December. 

The Ports-to-Plains Alliance has pressed hard for the FHWA to issue the guidelines. Without the guidance from FHWA, corridors like those serving primarily rural areas of the Ports-to-Plains region would not be eligible for or have a lower priority for key planning programs and funding programs within the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act.

By providing the guidance, FHWA paved the way for state departments of transportation to designate portions of the Ports-to-Plains, Heartland Expressway and Theodore Roosevelt Expressway as Critical Rural Freight Corridors.  The Alliance will be working with the planning efforts of state departments of transportation to urge designation and certification of key corridor sections across the region. States can designate up to the greater of 150 miles or 20% of the Primary Highway Freight System roads as Critical Rural Freight Corridors.

Segments that are designated and certified by the state departments of transportation become eligible for freight funding sources including the National Highway Freight Program which provides formula funds for each state to improve freight movement.  It can also improve the chances of competing for FASTLANE discretionary grants under the Nationally Significant Freight and Highway Projects program.

From a planning viewpoint, designated and certified Critical Rural Freight Corridors are added to the National Highway Freight Network and are eligible for inclusion in the National Multimodal Freight Network.  The National Multimodal Freight Network will be finalized by December 4, 2016 which makes immediate action to designate and certify important.

 “This was a top priority for the Ports-to-Plains Alliance,” said Ports-to-Plains Alliance President Michael Reeves.  “Our staff and board members met with FHWA staff as well as our congressional delegation and their staffs to let them know how critical this program is to rural economic competitiveness.”

 “We realize that the entire Ports-to-Plains Corridor will not be designated on the Critical Rural Freight Corridor Network, but we know that we have several segments that will be competitive.  The key for us was to have the FHWA Guidelines so that the state DOT’s can make those designations and we can compete,” said Reeves.

Click Here to Download News Release


FHWA Guidance Allows State DOTs to Tap $1.15B in 2016 Formula-Based Freight Funds

While Ports-to-Plains Alliance is pleased to see the National Highway Freight Program funding provided to states, it will remain disappointed that states are unable to expend those funds on Critical Rural Freight Corridors because states have not been given the needed guidance from FHWA on how to designate those corridors. Opportunity being lost for rural freight corridors.

AASHTO Journal

March 4, 2016

The Federal Highway Administration issued formal implementing guidance Feb. 29 that allows state departments of transportation to begin drawing on $1.15 billion for this year that was apportioned to them for freight-related projects under the new FAST Act.

That funding stream is the first infusion of money for the new National Highway Freight Program. The five-year highway authorization law also provides $1.1 billion for this program in fiscal 2017 that begins Oct. 1; then it will grow in the final three years of the FAST Act to $1.2 billion, $1.35 billion and $1.5 billion.

The NHFP funding is also a much larger amount of freight-directed money than the U.S. Department of Transportation will award this year under its separate $800 million competitive grant program for freight projects. It opened the process Feb. 26 for would-be applicants to seek those grant funds.

Another benefit to state DOTs of their larger NHFP freight funding stream is that the money is apportioned to them under the same formula as their regular highway program allocations from the Highway Trust Fund. State agencies can plug this funding into their construction plans for the coming year as long as the projects it supports meet NHFP eligibility requirements.

While they knew that money was coming ever since President Obama signed the FAST Act into law Dec. 4, states still needed the formal FHWA guidance to be able to tap it and know its program details. Along with the implantation guidance, the agency posted a series of questions and answers about the program.   Read on…