February 13, 2018

Volume Number 16


Issue Number 04

The President’s long-awaited Transportation Initiative was released on Monday with some good news and numerous questions. Rural transportation has the opportunity to receive significant benefits. With a total federal investment over the next ten years of $200 billion, the Initiative asks Congress to commit 25% of that total or $50 billion to rural infrastructure projects including transportation, water and waste, broadband, power and electric, and water resources.

The initiative calls for 80% of the rural funds under the Rural Infrastructure Program to be provided to the governor of each State via formula distribution. The formula distribution would create a “rural formula,” calculated based on rural lane miles and rural population adjusted to reflect policy objectives. 20% of the funds under the Rural Infrastructure Program would be reserved for rural performance grants. In order to qualify for rural performance grants, a State would be required to publish a comprehensive rural infrastructure investment plan (RIIP) within 180 days of receiving rural formula funds.

The Transportation Initiative did not directly provide a proposed plan of where the $200 billion in funding would be gathered.

The release of the Infrastructure Initiative is timely in light of the planned Staff Pre-fly-in to Washington DC scheduled for the week of February 26, 2018. Staff will have the opportunity to provide recommendations to Congress on the implementation of this Initiative, as well as begin to understand what Congress is thinking about the Initiative. This should set the stage for the Annual Ports-to-Plains Alliance Fly-in scheduled for April 16-19, 2018. Please consider planning to participate in this important event.

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.


 Trump Dispatches His Public Works Plan to Skeptical Congress

The President wants to stimulate at least $1.5 trillion in new investment, shorten project permitting time to two years, invest in rural projects and improve worker training — but approval faces an uphill path.

President Donald Trump released his long-awaited proposal to upgrade roads, airports and other public works on Monday, kicking off what will likely be a tough sell in Congress with Democrats saying the plan falls short and Republicans wary of another big spending measure.

The 53-page document details how Trump plans to stimulate at least $1.5 trillion in new investment, shorten project permitting time to two years, invest in rural projects and improve worker training. The newest elements of the proposal include expanding the use of tax-exempt debt, letting states add tolls on interstates and making it easier to lease airports and other public assets.

The infrastructure plan proposes streamlining environmental reviews by putting a single agency in charge of the work, imposing a 21-month deadline for completing those assessments and requiring final decisions on permitting three months after that.

The proposal also gives the Interior Department authority to approve oil and gas pipelines that cross lands controlled by the National Park Service, a change that’s been opposed by environmental groups. Currently, congressional approval is required for each project, resulting in time-consuming delays, according to the plan.

Read on...

What the Transportation Plan Could Mean to Rural America

Infrastructure was a significant topic of discussion during the president’s 2018 State of the Union address. The administration has been teasing an infrastructure plan for over a year, but this year’s SOTU, as well as documents released and leaked from the White House, add some meat to the bone, and begin to tell us what an infrastructure plan might ultimately mean for rural America. Based on the outline, rural America should perk up.

During the SOTU the president acknowledged the poor state of infrastructure in the United States and promised to help advance a plan that would generate at least a $1.5 trillion investment to rebuild and repair basically all things that move America. The speech was limited in detail, it was the SOTU after all, but immediately following the speech the White House released a two-page press document that gave a few more details.

The release highlighted that one out of every five miles of U.S. highway pavement is in poor condition. And in rural America don’t we know it. According to the Department of Transportation’s latest Status of the Nation’s Highways, Bridges and Transit report, 74% of the nation’s bridges, 73% of the 4 million miles of public roads, and 33% of all vehicle miles traveled are in rural areas. When our roads and bridges are in disrepair, we feel it.

The latest figures floating put federal funds for infrastructure upgrades at $200 billion. While $200 billion is a lot of money, it doesn’t take a math whiz to realize that it’s a far cry from the $1.5 trillion investment mentioned during the SOTU. That means states will be incentivized to work with local and private investment partners for completion and operation of projects under this program. Many transportation experts have highlighted over the years that public-private partnerships are most attractive in large population centers with lots of vehicle miles. In other words, perhaps not a great fit, by and large, for addressing rural transportation issues. 

Read on... 

Trump to Congress: Produce $1.5 Trillion Infrastructure Bill, Streamline Permitting

In his first State of the Union address, President Donald Trump called on the Republican-led Congress to prepare a $1.5 trillion infrastructure bill that would be anchored by a robust reliance on private sector investments.

The president added the legislation also would need to reduce the permitting process for certain infrastructure projects from 10 years to 2 years. The bill should aim to expedite a project’s delivery so big-ticket projects may overcome delays due to duplicative reviews.

While the 80-minute speech was billed as an opportunity for Trump’s Builder-in-Chief reputation to shine, he did little to break down details of his plan — specifically, how to fund the bill to reach the $1.5 trillion topline.

Earlier reports pointed to an infrastructure plan that would rely on $200 billion from direct federal funds that could produce the $1.5 trillion mark over 10 years through private partnerships. Previous reports also noted the plan would provide $25 billion for rural projects.

Read on...

Skeptics on Trump Infrastructure Plan Include Trump

Gary Cohn, President Donald Trump's top economic adviser, ended a late January discussion with the president believing he'd finally convinced him that there’s no room in the federal budget for a massive infrastructure spending bill.

Reluctantly, Trump agreed: States and private companies would have to shoulder most of the $1.5 trillion plan Trump had promised the American public.

But then Trump waffled again, forcing Cohn's deputy, D.J. Gribbin, who had been working on the plan, to delay its release, which had been tentatively timed around Trump’s Jan. 30 State of the Union address. That’s according to two individuals and an administration official familiar with the talks.

On Monday, nearly two weeks later, the White House is planning to release its long-awaited infrastructure plan. According to one administration official, it’s still unclear whether Trump supports what was once its core concept of relying primarily on so-called public-private partnerships to repair America’s ailing airports, roads and bridges.

Part of the holdup has been reconciling Trump’s demand for costly infrastructure projects with the nation’s growing debt, turbocharged by the new tax cut law he signed at the end of 2017.

Issues including the legislative calendar “have caused a slight delay in the public rollout of the president’s infrastructure plan, but he looks forward to sharing it with the American people” on Monday, said a White House official.

The president had wanted to declare his plan the biggest public works project since President Dwight D. Eisenhower created the Interstate Highway System in 1956, or at a minimum bigger than President Barack Obama’s 2009 stimulus package, according to the individuals familiar with the plan.

Read on...

Prowers County, CO Notes County Economic Growth

The Prowers Economic Prosperity Board of Directors conducted their annual meeting on Tuesday, February 6th, at the Lamar Community Building. PEP President Rick Robbins and Executive Director Eric Depperschmidt capped the accomplishments of the revised economic development organization for 2017.

Last year, the PCDI organization had been given new guidance by an economic focus group PUMA, Progressive Urban Management Associates. The board membership was transformed into a ‘buy-in’ group, comprised of businessmen, business owners and representatives from the county’s municipal groups.  The search for an executive director who had proven experience in the field and was familiar with rural life was narrowed to Eric Depperschmidt who signed on in March to head what is now called PEP.

Rick Robbins, PEP President, spoke about the past year, saying, “There is momentum underway in Lamar,” relating to some of the economic gains that have been made. He added that one of the key strengths of the organization is its ability to now make it easier to do business in Lamar.  Robbins said in the past, a person with a business idea had to make numerous contacts in order to advance their plan.  PEP has redefined its structure so the steps a person needed to start a business has been foreseen so basically only one contact person is needed through the PEP organization.  He added that the idea of an interrelated benefit is being accepted, “If a new business aids Lamar it can also help Holly and if a new business venture opens in Holly, there is an opportunity for it to benefit the Wiley Community.”  He invited Prowers County residents to join in the discussions and become contributing members of the roundtable meetings, noting that it’s better to be, “a part of the solution” than an anonymous critic of the organization through coffee table talk or social media sites.

Read on... 

We Are Ready to Detonate State Economy

Saltillo, Coah.- Governor Miguel Ángel Riquelme Solís explained that Coahuila is ready to become one of the most important economic corridors in the country with the road that goes from Torreón to the city of Piedras Negras and Acuña, and improve the infrastructure that will have as a result, detonate the economy of the entire state, specifically reactivate it in the Central and North Region.

With the completion of this route, the Ports to Plains Project is integrated as a backbone, linking roads from Alberta, Canada, passing through the United States and reaching the Mexican Pacific.

The state executive stressed that concluding road sections and all releases from Torreón to the northern border of Coahuila will increase competitiveness, attract and consolidate more investments that generate opportunities, sources of employment, provision of services, promote production state agrifood and raise education for the benefit of all coahuilenses. 

"We need to put a rebound inside the infrastructure that allows us to generate all the traffic that goes through Laredo, divert it to our border, we are about to achieve it, the road from Torreón to Piedras Negras and Acuña is a year away from being conclude, and all municipal releases with adequate specifications, "declared the Governor. 

"The culmination of the freeing of the highway that goes from Torreón to Piedras Negras and Acuña, will generate a new vision of all the regions, with new opportunities, that within the traffic can circulate boxes of up to 53 feet will change the economic spill in all the way to the border of our state, as well as improve the passage of goods through customs, "he said. 

This highway will connect the Mexican Pacific with the central region of the state and with an exit to the Coahuila border, which before its conclusion has increased the traffic of vehicles that move from the Sinaloa coast or from the state of Chihuahua to our border. This project contemplates the work of expansion and modernization of the roads Múzquiz, Nueva Rosita, Laredo-Piedras Negras and the free highway between Nueva Rosita and Allende; the conclusion of the drafts of Francisco I. Madero, San Pedro, Cuatro Ciénegas, Sacramento, Swimmers, San Buenaventura, Abasolo-Los Rodríguez, Sabinas, Piedras Negras, Zaragoza-Morelos and Acuña that present very important advances. 

It should be noted that the coordination between the State Government and the Federal Government has allowed in Coahuila that the road infrastructure grow and be modernized for what will soon become part of the Canada-United States-Mexico international highway corridor. 

Mark Your Calendar for the Ports-to-Plains Annual Conference


Mark your calendars! The 21st Ports-to-Plains Annual Conference has been scheduled for October 30 - November 1, 2018 in Del Rio, Texas

Stay tuned! More details coming soon!

In other Del Rio news…

The City of Del Rio is working with American Airlines to establish airline service to and from Del Rio to the Dallas-Fort Worth hub. If possible, the City of Del Rio would like to get a letter of support from your business or individually for this project.

This is a time-sensitive project. Please fill out one of the surveys below and it will automatically be sent for compilation.



Extension of I-27/Ports-to-Plains Corridor

The proposed extension of Interstate 27  will be a major backbone for the energy industry in Texas serving top oil and gas producing counties as well as the growing wind energy industry.

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



February 15, 2018 - Heartland Expressway Association Board Meeting, Terrytown, Nebraska

February 15, 2018 - SelectUSA Manufacturing Forum, Toronto, Canada

February 22, 2018 - Transportation Advocates of Texas Board Meeting, Austin, Texas

February 26 - March 1, 2018 - Staff D.C. Fly-In, Washington, D.C.

February 28- March 1, 2018 - Heartland Expressway Capitol Meetings, Lincoln, Nebraska

March 7-9, 2018 - Presentation, Eastern Alberta Trade Corridor Local to Global Forum, Vermillion, Alberta

March 15, 2018 - Heartland Expressway Association Board Meeting, Kimball, Nebraska

March 28, 2018 - Presentation, Rotary Club of Lubbock, Lubbock, Texas

April 12, 2018 - SelectUSA Canada Conference, Calgary, Alberta

April 16 - 20, 2018 - D.C. Fly-In, Washington, D.C.

October 30- November 1, 2018 - 21st Ports-to-Plains Annual Conference, Del Rio, 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