Your Connection to the

Ports-to-Plains Region

October 4, 2016

Volume Number 14
Issue Number 19

Ports-to-Plains initially began back in the mid-nineties as an initiative to extend Interstate 27. Traffic counts and other factors made that a difficult challenge at that time, but we spoke with partners in industry and at state departments of transportation who said that improving the corridor to a complete four-lane-divided highway with relief routes would still have a significant economic impact and greatly improve safety.

After nearly 20 years of hard work and many successes in upgrading the highway, the Ports-to-Plains board of directors has chosen to renew our efforts to seek the extension of I-27. For the most par,t our initial efforts were enthusiastically received by our members. While the plan does not yet have formal approval from the Texas Department of Transportation yet, we believe that it is achievable.

Seeking future Interstate designation for an extended I-27 (initially in Texas) will be a major focus of our organization. We will need your help. What can you do? The most important thing is to be heard. Let your local TxDOT district engineer know that you would like to see I-27 extended. Let your elected officials, at the local, state and federal levels, know that this is a priority.

We will be meeting with DOT and elected officials, but you are our most effective advocates. You can continue to follow developments through this newsletter, and we will also provide updates and more specific requests in the future.

 

 Michael Reeves, President

We are a voice for our small town, grassroots members who may otherwise not have access to the right audiences, as well as a conduit for industry to come together in support and promotion of transportation improvements.

We are committed to working as an Alliance to improve transportation infrastructure and business networks opportunities, by advocating for appropriate funding levels, so business and industry can thrive.

We are focused on the economic and business interests that are the lifeblood of the region.

Extension of I-27/Ports to Plains Corridor

This section will become a regular part of the Ports-to-Plains Alliance newsletter. It will be designed to help our members and others to better understand the current status of and the opportunities presented by the Extension of the 1-27/Ports-to-Plains Corridor in Texas.

•••

The I-27/P2P corridor is viewed as a gateway for commerce with the potential to redirect traffic from congested corridors across Texas. Planned and programmed projects aim to:

  • Increase corridor capacity and enhance safety;
  • Reduce congestion at ports of entry along the Texas-Mexico border by dispersing freight to multiple border crossings (in addition to the heavily-used Laredo crossings);
  • Provide travel alternatives to the state’s most congested corridors located through major metropolitan areas (e.g. I-35);
  • Provide alternatives to other congested north-south corridors that run through major metropolitan areas (e.g. I-25);
  • Help to facilitate trade between the U.S., Mexico and Canada; and
  • Provide facilities that can effectively meet the traffic volumes and vehicle types that are traversing the corridor.

From Initial Assessment Report – Extension of the I-27/Ports-to-Plains Corridor, November 2015


Nebraska Announces Funding for Expansion of the Heartland Expressway

The Nebraska Department of Roads (NDOR) and Governor Ricketts announced today $300 million in transportation construction investments, including U.S. 26 from Minatare to U.S. 385, as a 4-lane divided highway, as well as the design of 12 projects, including U.S. 385 from Alliance to Chadron, as a Super 2, and planning of two others. Funded through the Build Nebraska Act (BNA) and the Transportation Innovation Act (TIA), and championed by the Governor, these projects will improve safety on our highways, promote economic growth throughout the state –and fulfill the vision of former Governor Kay Orr in 1988 to expand Nebraska’s Expressway System. NDOR has committed construction on all projects will begin by 2024.

 

Construction U.S. 26 from Minatare to U.S. 385, as a 4-lane divided highway has an estimated project cost of $60M. This project was selected because:

  • Completes a Gap in the System: Currently, there is an 18-mile stretch of two-lane highway between two sections of US 26 that are already four-lane highway or are planned to be upgraded to four-lane highway.
  • Regional and Local Support: This project is part of what is commonly known as the Heartland Expressway Corridor – a project that stakeholders have long stressed the importance of completing.
  • Federally Designated High Priority Corridor: The Heartland Expressway Corridor serves as the middle section of the Great Plains International Trade Corridor, which extends from Mexico to Canada. Given its significance for trade and freight transport, it’s one of four federally designated High Priority Corridors that comprise the Ports-to-Plains Alliance.

Design of U.S. 385 from Alliance to Chadron, as a Super 2 for 59 miles.

  • Regional and Local Support: NDOR will begin design work for a Super 2 on this 59-mile stretch. A Super 2 is a two-lane roadway with paved shoulders and additional passing lanes. Passing lanes will improve safety where truck traffic exists and is growing.
  • Federally Designated High Priority Corridor

The Heartland Expressway Association is extremely happy to learn that our priorities for the next phases of the 4-lane highway mirror those of the NE Department of Roads. Having the Minatare to U.S. Hwy 385 section listed as a construction project by 2024 assures the completion of the remaining 18 miles needed to complete the 4-lane portion from Kimball to Alliance. We are also pleased that the 59 miles from Alliance to Chadron will be added to the design list as at least a Super 2 configuration, which assures that it will be in line for funding at some point in the future. Our experience in working with the NDOR on this new prioritization process allowed us to have a direct input into that selection. We look forward to continuing that work.

HEA would like to thank not only the NDOR Director Schneweis, but also Governor Ricketts, U.S. Senator Deb Fischer and members of the NE Legislature including Senator Al Davis of the 43rd District, Senator John Stinner of the 48th district and Senator Ken Schilz of the 47th District for their long-time support of this project.

Project Announcement Handout

New BNA/TIA Projects Map & List

Fact Sheet: US 26 from Minatare to US 385

Fact Sheet: US 385 from Alliance to Chadron


The next president should make infrastructure spending a priority

There is now a consensus that the United States should substantially raise its level of infrastructure investment. Economists and politicians of all persuasions are increasingly concluding that higher infrastructure investment can create quality jobs and provide economic stimulus without posing the risks of easy-money monetary policies in the short run. They are also recognizing that infrastructure investment can expand the economy’s capacity in the medium term and mitigate the enormous maintenance burden we would otherwise pass on to the next generation.

The case for infrastructure investment has been strong for a long time, but it gets stronger with each passing year, as government borrowing costs decline and ongoing neglect raises the return on incremental spending increases. As it becomes clearer that growth is not going to return to pre-financial-crisis levels on its own, the urgency of policy action rises. Just as the infrastructure failure at Chernobyl was a sign of malaise in the Soviet Union’s last years, profound questions about America’s future are raised by collapsing bridges, children losing IQ points because of lead in water, an air-traffic control system that does not use GPS technology and chipping paint in thousands of schools.

The issue now is not whether the United States should invest more in infrastructure but what the policy framework should be. Here are the important questions and my answers. Read on…


U.S. must recommit to federal highway program

Commentary by Henry Cisneros and Suzanne Shank

We are seeing more and more states taking proactive steps to address transportation funding challenges. In 2015 and 2016, more than a dozen states including Texas are raising additional revenue for transportation.

Sixty years ago, the United States embarked on one of the most ambitious and successful undertakings in the history of the federal government. In June 1956, President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed the Federal Highway Act, which created what we have come to know as the Interstate Highway System. A vast network made up of some 47,000 miles of roads, the system has transformed our nation economically, culturally and geographically.

The system, which took decades to build, fundamentally altered where and how Americans live. Suburbs were born, new industries were created and the shipment of goods by truck over long distances radically changed almost every sector of the economy. In 1960, with the system in its infancy, Americans drove approximately 7.19 trillion highway miles per year, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation; in 2014, that number had risen to 30.25 trillion.

It was not just the potential economic boost that convinced Eisenhower to champion the federal highway program. As a former general who had led U.S. forces in Europe during World War II, President Eisenhower believed a highway system was essential for our national defense. With the threat of the Cold War, Eisenhower argued the military needed to be able to move equipment quickly over long distances and civilians might need to evacuate large areas on short notice. Read on…


Montana Governor: Shoring up state's infrastructure job one for 2017 Legislature

Like many others attending the 107th Montana Association of Counties conference in Billings on Wednesday, Gov. Steve Bullock helped himself to some of the freebies offered to attendees.

Before addressing county commissioners from around the state, Bullock held aloft a four-way screwdriver provided to attendees by Stahly Engineering & Associates, which has offices in Bozeman and Helena.

Bullock said Montana’s county commissioners are more fortunate than the nation’s 50 governors.

“We never get these at the National Governors Association,” he said.

Bullock told commissioners, who are meeting at the Billings Hotel & Convention Center, that the state’s infrastructure “needs our immediate attention.”

After falling short by one vote during the 2015 session and vetoing a Republican infrastructure bill in 2013, Bullock has proposed a 2017 bill calling for $200 million in cash and bonds to be spent on infrastructure needs across the state. Read on…


Two Years Into Oil Slump, U.S. Shale Firms Are Ready to Pump More

U.S. production began inching up in July, shortly after oil prices rebounded to $50-a-barrel territory. Producers quickly put 100 rigs back to work this summer.

When oil prices began to plunge two years ago due to a global glut of crude, experts predicted U.S. shale producers would be the losers of the resulting shakeout.

But the American companies that revolutionized the oil and gas business with hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling are surviving the carnage largely unbowed.

Though the collapse in prices caused a wave of bankruptcies, total U.S. oil production has only fallen by about 535,000 barrels a day so far this year compared with 2015, when it averaged 9.4 million barrels, according to the latest federal data.

Few predicted that in the fall of 2014, when Saudi Arabia signaled that it wouldn’t curb its output to put a floor under crude prices. Oil pundits concluded that a brutal culling would force higher-cost players known as marginal producers—a group that includes shale drillers—out of the market. Read on…


Alberta promotes investment, strengthens ties with Mexico

Alberta’s Energy Minister will sign a new agreement with Mexico’s federal government that will strengthen relations with an important trading partner and better enable the sharing of best practices.

Energy Minister Margaret McCuaig-Boyd will travel to Mexico City from September 29 to October 3. While there, she will promote Alberta companies, new opportunities for investment, and will meet with businesses and the Mexican government on a variety of energy-related policies. Mexico has also requested that the Minister be the guest of honour at a renewable energy event in Mexico City.

The Minister will set the stage for the upcoming Mexico Midstream Mission that takes place October 4-5. More than 20 Alberta midstream energy companies will meet with Mexican officials and businesses to discuss opportunities in the development of energy infrastructure across North America.

“Our government is committed to opening new markets for Alberta resources and our companies. Albertans have extensive experience in responsible and sustainable energy development and I will advocate for our companies looking to expand to the south.” -- Margaret McCuaig-Boyd, Energy Minister

Read on…


Energy Citizens

America needs decision makers that support energy policies that will create jobs, grow our economy, and increase America's energy security. Looking for a simple way to make your voice heard… to elected officials… even to your community. Just go to Energy Citizens’ website

Joe Kiely, Ports-to-Plains Alliance Vice President of Operations, recently submitted the following comment to Energy Citizens with the goal of supporting energy policies that will create jobs, grow our economy, and increase America's energy security

Improved infrastructure and increased oil and gas development is key to our rural and urban economic success. It is imperative that we have access to affordable energy and a safe way to transport that energy be that roads, railways or pipelines. This focus will also help to create thousands of jobs that we desperately need to rebuild our economy. Not to mention, domestic production will decrease our dependence on foreign oil from hostile nations that do not have our best interests in mind. We need to take care of ourselves. The great news is we have the ability to do just that by supporting improved infrastructure and gas and oil development for this great nation.

Being part of Energy Citizens has been a great way to help advocate for our energy independence. It is easy to stay updated on current energy issues and allows me to easily share this information with our Ports-to-Plains Alliance membership and take action. If we are all working together towards the same goal, we can each make a difference and bring us closer to a secure energy future for America and help bring us one step closer to energy independence. 


Upcoming Events

October 2-4 - Can-am BTA Conference, Washington, DC

October 11 - Women's Club, Tahoka, TX

October 11 - Colorado Freight Advisory Committee, Boulder, CO

October 13-14 - Pro 15 Fall Conference, Fort Morgan, CO

October 27 - MoveColorado Board of Directors Meeting, Greenwood Village, CO

October 29 - Transportation Advocates of Texas Board of Directors Meeting, Austin, TX

November 1 - Colorado Transportation Summit, Denver, CO

 Ports-to-Plains Alliance Staff

Michael Reeves
President
5401 N MLK Blvd. #395
Lubbock, TX 79403
P: 806-775-2338
F: 806-775-3981
michael.reeves@portstoplains.com

Duffy Hinkle
Vice President of Membership & Marketing
5401 N MLK Blvd. #395
Lubbock, TX 79403
P: 806-775-3373
F: 806-775-3981
duffy.hinkle@portstoplains.com

Fernando Madero
Vice President of Mexico Operations
Jazmines 123, Torreon Jardin
Torreon, Mexico
P: 011 52 (871) 120 1030
fernando.madero@portstoplains.com

Joe Kiely
Vice President of Operations
PO Box 9
Limon, CO 80828
P: 303-586-1787
F: 719-775-9073
joe.kiely@portstoplains.com

Jeri Strong
Executive Assistant
Ports-To-Plains Alliance
5401 N. MLK Blvd. Ste. 395
Lubbock, TX 79403
P: 806-775-3369
jeri.strong@portstoplains.com

Richard "Buzz" David
Economic and Business Development
5629 NE Foster Rd.
Bainbridge Island, WA  09110
P: 806-678-3160
buzz.david@portstoplains.com

Cal Klewin
Executive Director
Theodore Roosevelt Expressway
PO Box 1306
22 E Broadway
Williston, ND 58802
P: 701-577-8110
cal@trexpressway.com

Deb Cottier
Board of Directors
Heartland Expressway Association
706 West Third St.
Chadron, NE 69337
P: 308-432-4023
dcottier@gpcom.net

Jay Slemp
Eastern Alberta Trade Corridor
212 2nd Ave. W
Box 820
Hanna AB T0J 1P0
P: 403-854-0424
jay.slemp@palliseralberta.com