Federal Update | Video on TRE Hwy 85 | The Right Way Campaign | Toot'n Totum in Clayton | HEA Annual Meeting Invitation

August 2021  Volume 19  Issue 8


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.


Ports-to-Plains Alliance Federal Update

On July 1st of this year, the U.S. House of Representatives passed HR3684, the INVEST in America Act, on a near party line 221-201 vote. The bill contained language designating the Texas and New Mexico portions of the Port-to-Plains Corridor as a future interstate. The language was championed by Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Laredo) and Rep. Jodey Arrington (R-Lubbock) with the strong support of other members of the Texas and New Mexico delegations. Unfortunately, the Ports-to-Plains interstate designation language was not included in the Senate's amendment to HR3684, which passed on August 10th on a bipartisan vote of 69-30, a historic infrastructure package that includes funding for roads, bridges, and ports, as well as policy changes to address climate change. This, despite the strong bipartisan support for a floor amendment to the bill making the interstate designation- that was cosponsored by all four senators from Texas and New Mexico (Sens. Cruz, Cornyn, Lujan and Heinrich) and an intense lobbying effort by the Senators' staffs and the Port-to-Plains team. After much work, the amendment was cleared by the Senate committees of jurisdiction and by the leadership in both parties and  we appeared well-positioned to have the amendment adopted on a voice vote. A deal had been worked out between the parties to limit further debate time on the bill and proceed to a vote on an agreed to package of amendments that included the Ports-to-Plains interstate designation amendment. At that point, the freshman junior Senator from Tennessee, Senator Bill Hagerty (R-TN) stood and objected on philosophical grounds related to his opposition to increased federal expenditures, killing the unanimous consent agreement and our amendment and 15 others with it. The Senate moved to final passage on the bill, with 19 Republicans joining all of the Democrats to pass the bill. Both Texas Senators voted against the bill while both New Mexico Senators voted in favor of it.


Although the House could reject the Senate amendments to HR3684 and demand that the differences with their version be worked out in a conference committee, strong pressure from the White House and from the Democratic Leadership in both parties has resulted in passage of a rule on a vote for the Senate version of the bill by the House in late September, without amendments. This vote will be preceded by a vote on the massive $3.5 trillion spending plan being put together by the Democrats in both chambers (S.Con.Res 14) that will be considered under "reconciliation" rules that only budget and tax related provisions to be included, and that only require majority votes in both chambers (not subject to the filibuster in the Senate that requires 60 votes). Unfortunately, because the Ports-to-Plains interstate designation amendment is "authorizing" language without direct tax or budgetary impact, it is ineligible for this process. However, while it appears the smaller Senate bipartisan infrastructure bill will likely pass the House, the fate of the larger "human infrastructure" bill being assembled by the Democrats in a very partisan process remains unclear as the tight margins mean they cannot lose any votes in the Senate and only a few in the House.  


Facing these realities, we are regrouping and talking to our congressional champions about the best path forward and how best to capitalize on the tremendous momentum of getting the Texas and New Mexico designation language passed by the full House, and then vetted and to the proverbial one yard line in the Senate. The appropriations legislation funding the Department of Transportation is one potential option for a vehicle to carry the interstate designation that we are revisiting and discussing with personal and committee staff about. With Rep. Cuellar (D-TX) and Senator Heinrich (D-NM) on the House and Senate Appropriations Committees, respectively, we may have an opportunity to convince the leadership to include our amendment in what will likely be an end of year "omnibus" bill funding several federal agencies, including DOT. We also still have stand alone designation (S.705/HR1608) legislation that we will work to move through the legislative process, again, using the momentum from our efforts this year to date. Although disappointing that the language was not included in the bipartisan infrastructure bill, we are optimistic about finding an alternative way to pass the Ports-to-Plains interstate designation language into law during the 117th Congress so that this historic project can move forward.


Federal update provided by David Pore, Hance Scarborough & Associates


Highway 85 on Theodore Roosevelt Expressway

Everyone knows U.S. 85 is a dangerous road, which is why the North Dakota State Legislature considers it a high priority to have it expanded to a four lane. Hopefully later this fall, the Theodore Roosevelt Expressway will have the funds to begin expanding the road from Watford City to the Long X Bridge.

View rest of story in the video below. 


Courtesy of Michael Anthony, Reporter, KUMV News

THE RIGHT WAY Campaign Established to Promote Del Rio and Acuña Ports-of-Entry

To increase commercial crossings on the border of Acuña, Coahuila and Del Rio, Texas that will result in economic benefits for both cities, the Union of Business Organizations of Acuña, federal, state and municipal authorities of both communities officially started “The Right Way” campaign.


This campaign that will publicize the competitive advantages of utilizing the customs’ facilities and ports of entries of the Acuna-Del Rio Border Crossing.


Trinidad Herrera Fernandez, of Acuña, Coah. in Mexico is serving as president of this newly established organization. Trinidad has been involved in the Ports-to-Plains Alliance for over 20 years, where he has advocated and strongly supported its initiatives. 


Toot'n Totum Travel Center Coming to Clayton, New Mexico

The Ports-to-Plains Alliance knows that improved transportation infrastructure brings economic development opportunities to our member communities. One example of this is the Toot'n Totum travel center coming soon to Clayton, New Mexico.


"We are enthusiastic over the existing construction of the Toot’n Totum travel center in Clayton," commented City Manager, Ferron Lucero. "The new location will provide 40 to 50 jobs and will offer additional amenities to the trucking industry and the traveling public. The facility will house Mitch’s Texas Style BBQ, and this alone will bring an additional dining choice locally."


Toot'n Totum is scheduled to open by February of 2022.


Invitation to Heartland Expressway Association Annual Meeting

You are cordially invited to attend the Heartland Expressway Association's Annual Meeting. The meeting is taking place Wednesday, September 22 from 11:30 am -1pm (Mountain Time) at the Western Nebraska Regional Airport in Scottsbluff, Nebraska.


John Selmer, the new Nebraska Department of Transportation Director, will be giving the keynote and lunch will be served during the meeting.


Duffy Hinkle

Vice President of Membership & Marketing

Ports-to-Plains Alliance

PO Box 16226

Lubbock, TX 79490



Joe Kiely

Vice President of Operations

Ports-to-Plains Alliance

PO Box 758

Limon, CO 80828



Cal Klewin

Executive Director

Theodore Roosevelt Expressway Association

PO Box 1306

Williston, ND 58802



Deb Cottier


Heartland Expressway Association

337 Main Street

Chadron, NE 69337




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