Your Connection

to the

Ports-to-Plains Region

October 10, 2017

Volume Number 15
Issue Number 20

Last week I was at two conferences that focused on US – Canada trade issues. I attended the Can-Am Border Trade Alliance conference in Washington, and then I spoke at the Canadian Inland Ports Conference in Calgary. Of course the current negotiations on updating NAFTA was a major topic of discussion, both during formal presentations as well as in conversations with those attending the conference. Everyone agreed that overall NAFTA has contributed greatly to the economies of all three countries. By working together, we have been able to capitalize on each country’s strengths to be more competitive in a global economy. As such, supply chains have become intertwined to such a degree that it would be very difficult and quite likely economically damaging to withdraw from NAFTA. Agriculture has benefited greatly from NAFTA. Canada is the number one export market for US farm products. Mexico is not far behind. One member of Congress indicated that agriculture groups have been some of the most effective in sharing the message of NAFTA’s benefits throughout the negotiations.

The Business Council of Canada created a terrific web site that shows just how far-reaching US – Canada trade is, and the direct impact it has nationwide - . You can click on any state or congressional district in the country and get information on that areas exports to Canada, as well as the number of jobs created and companies with Canadian roots. Just looking at the Ports-to-Plains districts you can see that trade with Canada is important to the whole corridor. Montana, which borders Canada, exports $669 million annually to our northern neighbors. But the Texas 11th Congressional District represented by House Ag Committee Chairman Mike Conaway exports $644 million annually to Canada. The automotive industry has a very integrated supply chain, and one would expect that Michigan, home of the US auto industry and located on the border close to major Canadian population centers, would have strong numbers. They do, exporting $24.6 billion annually to Canada. However, even though Texas is located on the southern border with Mexico, it exports $24.1 billion annually to Canada.

For those of us in rural agriculture and energy producing regions, we know that trade is vital to our economies. Both conferences highlighted the importance of safe, efficient borders and quality infrastructure to facilitate the movement of this trade. I was excited to highlight the important role that the Ports-to-Plains Corridor plays in improving North America’s prosperity and competitiveness. 

 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.


 Missed Opportunity: FHWA’s Infographic on the Importance of Rural Transportation

On October 3, 2017, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) published an article and infographic titled the “Importance of Rural Transportation” in its Tuesday Transportation release. The title grabbed our attention as advocates for rural transportation. Once it was pulled up on a computer, it was very disappointing that the infographic was created with a very narrow scope. While transit is certainly important to rural transportation, the narrow scope left major roles of rural transportation unaddressed.

The importance of rural transportation has a much larger scope. The rural transportation system is a significant portion of the National Highway Freight Network. Rural transportation provides connectors between urban areas with the corridors needed to move goods domestically and internationally to reach markets and consumers across the world. This includes rural portions of the interstate system, the national highway system, and state highways. Rural transportation corridors connect manufacturers and value-added goods with consumers like you and me.

The rural transportation system connects the nation’s natural resources largely available in rural areas to consumers within urban areas. Food, fiber and fuel are developed and moved from rural areas to urban areas by rural transportation corridors. Be it agriculture, conventional energy or renewable energy, the products and the people developing and producing those resources rely upon a robust, safe rural transportation system.

Rural communities rely economically on the rural transportation system for their economic vitality. A deteriorating rural transportation system is a sign of long-term rural economic problems.

As a great nation, with a wealth of opportunities to enjoy national parks, national monuments, and thousands of other sites in rural America that people wish to visit and enjoy, it is the rural transportation system that allows them to drive to the jewels. The rural transportation system must safely move these tourists alongside the moving of freight, oversize/overweight/overheight loads, and agriculture equipment.

The rural transportation system is a key component of everyone’s day as they consume food, use energy, and travel across the country. The rural transportation system is important to everyone, whether they live within a large city or a rural area.

The original posting by FHWA is available here. (

*Article written by Joe Kiely, Vice President of Operations, Ports-to-Plains Alliance

Trump backs off vow that private sector should help pay for infrastructure package

President Trump told lawmakers this week that he was abandoning a key element of his planned $1 trillion infrastructure package, complaining that certain partnerships between the private sector and federal government simply don’t work.

Trump’s comments, described by a House Democrat who met with Trump and confirmed by a White House official, reveal an infrastructure plan that appears to be up in the air as White House officials have struggled to decide how to finance many of the projects they envision to rebuild America’s roads, bridges and tunnels.

Now the administration wants to force states and localities to foot most of the bill. The previous strategy — a push that has taken a back seat to other Republican priorities in Washington — was aimed at luring private investors with promises of federal backing. Some of that thinking appears to be changing.

The president acknowledged the new approach during a Tuesday meeting with Democrats from the House Ways and Means Committee, who came to the White House to discuss the administration’s tax code rewrite set to be unveiled Wednesday,

During the meeting, Trump “emphatically rejected what everybody assumed was his position relative to financing infrastructure,” said Rep. Brian Higgins (D-N.Y.), who attended and asked Trump about the proposal. “He dismissed it categorically and said it doesn’t work.”

Read on...

Texas Freight Mobility Plan Update Available Online for Public Review and Comment

The Texas Freight Mobility Plan 2017 is now available online for public review and comment. The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) wants to hear from public and private freight industry stakeholders, and all interested parties, to ensure the updated plan captures the state’s freight needs.

In 2016, TxDOT released the Texas Freight Mobility Plan, the agency’s first comprehensive multimodal transportation plan focused on the state’s freight industry. The Texas Freight Mobility Plan 2017 allows TxDOT to refresh data sources, add critical elements, and comply with new federal legislation. The Texas Freight Mobility Plan 2017 has been developed to meet the requirements of the current federal transportation act, the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act.

The Texas Freight Mobility Plan 2017 is available for review HERE.

Interested parties are invited to download the plan document and appendices. Comments will be accepted for a 30-day period between September 26, 2017 and October 26, 2017. Comments may be submitted via:

• Email at
• Postal mail addressed to TxDOT Freight and International Trade Section,
125 E. 11th St., Austin, TX 78701 (mailed comments must be postmarked by
October 26, 2017)

If you have questions or need additional information, please contact Kale Driemeier at
512-936-0961 or 

Highway 71 Truck Diversion Study

The Colorado Department of Transportation has initiated the State Highway 71 Truck Freight Diversion Feasibility Study. Highway 71 between Limon and the Colorado/Nebraska state line including Brush was designated by Congress as a portion of the Heartland Expressway. This Heartland Expressway segment is a portion of the Ports-to-Plains Corridor that exists across nine-states between Mexico and Canada. State Highway 71 is the only segment of the Ports-to-Plains Corridor in Colorado that remains unimproved.

The study’s purpose and objectives are (1) Analyze freight movement and impact of SH 71 improvements on truck traffic; (2) Identify the types and cost of improvements to SH 71 that will draw additional truck traffic; (3) Determine the potential economic benefit to the trucking industry and local economies; and (4) Develop funding options and implementation scenarios.

The study kicked off with a Stakeholder’s Meeting held on Tuesday, October 3, 2017 in Brush, CO. Public participants from along the corridor included Dave Stone, Town of Limon; Joe Kiely, Ports-to-Plains Alliance; Travis Taylor, Lincoln County Extension; Kipp Parker, Veris Environmental; Cathy Shull, Pro 15; Monty Torrez, City of Brush; Melody Christensen, Brush Chamber of Commerce; and Jim Zwetzig, Morgan County. The public participants were joined by many from the Colorado Department of Transportation and WSP, the consulting company who will carry out the study.

The project schedule projects the final report to be complete in April 2018. Major parts of the study include modeling to create a long-term analysis of potential truck diversions between SH 71 and Interstate 25 and applying that modeling to six scenarios of improvement packages for SH 71. The implementation plan will develop rating criteria for potential improvements, cost estimates for the top ten rated improvement packages, and prepare funding options and scenarios. Numerous opportunities for improvements will be explored including additional lanes, passing lanes, climbing lanes and safety as well as roadway improvement including shoulders, geometry and sight distance.

Cathy Shull, Executive Director, Pro 15 said: “After 20 plus years of working on this corridor, we are looking forward to this next step and the potential to help with Front Range transportation as well as the anticipated economic benefit for our region.”

“An improved understanding of truck movements and the level of opportunity that an existing highway in eastern Colorado might have on reducing congestion of Interstate 25 has long been a goal of the Ports-to-Plains Alliance,” said Joe Kiely, Vice President of Operations. “This study should go a long way in determining future highway investments in eastern Colorado.”

Xcel: New wind farms will give a big boost to area energy supplies

Xcel Energy said a new wind farm in Hale County will help add enough wind-generated energy to the mix to meet about 40 percent of the region’s annual needs by 2021, creating savings for consumers, the company said Wednesday.

In March, Xcel asked regulators to approve two new company-owned wind farms in Roosevelt County in New Mexico and in Hale County.

The wind farms would serve customers in eastern New Mexico and West Texas and would provide enough energy to power 440,000 homes.

Xcel Energy spokesman Wes Reeves said the company recently completed an analysis that shows the wind farms, along with proposed contract purchases, will allow for a doubling of the percentage of the region’s annual energy needs met with wind energy — boosting it from 22 percent in 2016

Xcel anticipates regulatory approval next year.

The company said adding wind power will displace the higher cost of generating electricity at older fossil fuel plants.

Xcel officials said construction of the new wind farms will cost $1.6 billion, and the company estimates saving $2.8 billion over the next three decades as energy production costs are reduced.

In a statement, Xcel Regional President David Hudson said savings will be passed along to consumers in the form of reduced fuel costs.

He also pointed to environmental benefits.

“The new wind projects we are proposing will generate electricity as cheaply as our coal-fueled power plants without using precious groundwater or producing air emissions,” Hudson said.

Read on...

Detmar Logistics expanding in San Angelo


Detmar Logistics LLC, a company that deals with the transportation and logistics of frac sand, has new incentive to expand its San Angelo location. 

As part of the Business Expansion and Retention Program, the City of San Angelo Development Corp. voted unanimously Wednesday, Sept. 27, to provide Detmar with an Economic Development Incentive, authorizing the use of up to $300,000 of the city’s sales and tax funds toward the expansion. 

The San Antonio-based company deals primarily in the Permian Basin and Eagle Ford shales. The board agreed to give Detmar $2,500 per new hire, up to 120 new employees, during the next five years. 

Before the board’s decision, Detmar president and owner Matt Detmar said that while San Angelo has been a good home for his business since it arrived in the area in April 2016, moving to a new location had been considered — perhaps to Midland. The expansion, which involves a larger facility and an additional 46 trucks by the end of October, will cost the company $5 million.

Read on...

Extension of I-27/Ports to Plains Corridor

Congress has already designated the Ports-to-Plains Corridor in Texas as a High Priority Corridor on the National Highway System; and the Texas Department of Transportation published an Initial Assessment Report on the Extension of I-27/Ports to Plains Corridor in November , 2015 which stated: “The corridor will continue to be a critical link to state, national and international trade, growing population centers and critical energy and agricultural business sectors”.

Has your organization considered the resolution supporting the Extension of Interstate 27?

Have you individually added your name supporting the Resolution?

Please share with your Texas Friends!

Please click here to add your personal name to the Resolution in Support of Expansion on Interstate 27

Please click here to downland a draft organizational resolution for consideration by local governments and non-profit organizations.  (Word Document) 

Upcoming Events


 January 23 - Quarterly Ports-to-Plains Board Meeting, Amarillo, Texas

 Ports-to-Plains Alliance Staff

Michael Reeves
5401 N MLK Blvd. #395
Lubbock, TX 79403
P: 806-775-2338
F: 806-775-3981

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

Joe Kiely
Vice President of Operations
PO Box 9
Limon, CO 80828
P: 719-740-2240
F: 719-775-9073

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

Cal Klewin
Executive Director
Theodore Roosevelt Expressway
PO Box 1306
22 E Broadway
Williston, ND 58802
P: 701-523-6171

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

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