April 2023 Volume 21 Issue 4
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.
While I am still looking for those April showers, Tax Day has come and gone for another year. And as I sit here and think about all the things that my government is spending my money on … well… that could be depressing. But there is a tax that we pay every time that we pump gas into our vehicles that I can feel better about. I feel better about it because that is a tax that I know is dedicated to building and maintaining our surface transportation system including our P2P transportation corridor. For every gallon of gas that you pump the federal government takes 18.4 cents and places it in the Highway Trust Fund. If you are pumping diesel that number is 24.4 cents. Most states tack on an additional 20 cents per gallon for highway work in your respective states. The federal tax was implemented in 1932 and in the first year generated $124.9 million which represented 7.7 percent of all federal revenue collected in fiscal year 1933. In 2021 that number was around $43 billion which represented 1.06 percent of all federal revenue collected. What that tells me is that there are a lot of other priorities in this country these days besides surface transportation.
And I would be OK with that but over the years our infrastructure funding has not kept up with the demands placed upon our existing system. In 2021, the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) put out their infrastructure report card. The nation’s roads scored a D and our bridges scored a C. We are not winning any awards with those kinds of grades. Over the years America has built and maintained the transportation network with the revenues collected from these taxes. But as you can tell, a considerable investment will have to be made if we want to make any improvements in these numbers. Add to that is the goal to reach a zero-carbon footprint on our transportation network and all of a sudden you have a whole bunch of electric vehicles or hybrids running around adding stress to the system and pumping very little fuel into their tanks.
What do we or can we do about it? Some states have introduced different revenue generating sources to offset the lagging effectiveness of our fuel taxes. Some for example have sold bonds to pay for infrastructure improvements relying on revenues generated from such things as tolling highway lanes or other infrastructure generated fees. Some states have supplemented their transportation program from revenues generated by sales and oil and gas severance taxes. Some states are already enacting road user fees on electric vehicles to offset the loss of fuel tax revenues at the pump. And while finding ways to generate new revenue is great, we still need to be efficient in using the revenues that we already receive. That is why we will continue to study and scrutinize the recent infrastructure improvement bill and all the programs that it defines because that legislation is what appropriates the Highway Trust Fund to our surface transportation system. What I am saying is that we need the highway tax money invested in our system as efficiently as possible. That will continue to be our ask and the focus of our efforts. Wouldn’t that be something if we could get a highway tax refund! More to come…
Lauren Garduño, President/CEO
FY 24 Appropriations Requests Move Forward
The process of approval of what is called Congressionally Designated Spending in the U.S. Senate and Community Project Funding in the U.S. House of Representatives is a multistep process. It starts with a member of Congress accepting a project submittal. In last month’s newsletter, the projects were described by member that were submitted. The next step has the member evaluating all the submittals they receive and deciding which to submit to the appropriate sub-committee. Those submissions have now been completed. The projects that were submitted for the Ports-to-Plains Alliance Corridor are listed below:
Rep. Jodey Arrington (TX) Interstate Planning: U.S. 87 from Lubbock to Tahoka $8,000,000
Rep. Ronny Jackson (TX) Construction: SL 335 - Widen Non-Freeway $5,000,000
Rep. Ronny Jackson (TX) Interstate Planning for U.S. 287 from Dumas to Amarillo $4,000,000
Rep. August Pfluger (TX) Construction: US 277 - Operational Improvements $3,000,000
Sen. Martin Heinrich (NM) Ports-to-Plains Corridor Interstate Planning $1,600,000
Sen. Deb Fischer (NE) Heartland Expressway Four Lane Expansion $20,000,000
There are still multiple steps ahead before this funding is finalized. Each project must be approved by the Transportation Housing and Urban Development sub-committee, then included in the FY24 Appropriations Bill for each body. If included in either the Senate or House FY24 Appropriations legislation there will probably be a reconciliation process before final action and signing by the President.
Mark Your Calendar for 2023 Conference
WE DELIVER … will be the theme of the 2023 Ports-to-Plains Alliance Conference scheduled for September 13-15, 2023 in Eagle Pass, TX. This will be the first conference the Alliance has held in Eagle Pass and the community it excited to co-host the event.
The open-ended theme of WE DELIVER... brings many ideas to mind: WE DELIVER agriculture products, energy products, international trade, highway expansion, rural transportation policy advocacy, future interstate highway, transportation funding, and …
The Wednesday night reception will be held at Kickapoo Lucky Eagle Casino in the Que Paso room.
Conference sessions will be held at the International Trade Center.
The Thursday evening Dinner/Reception will be held at the Fort Duncan Ruins.
The Registration Website will go live in early June. MARK YOUR CALENDAR NOW – SEPTEMBER 13-15, 2023!
Does your Local Community Need Infrastructure Funding?
While the Ports-to-Plains Alliance focuses primarily on highway funding, we know our communities also have local roadway needs.
The U.S. Department of Transportation recently issued a notice of funding opportunity for cities, towns, counties, tribal governments, and Metropolitan Planning Organizations or MPOs to apply directly for more than $1.17 billion in grants to help fund local roadway safety improvement projects.
Those funds are from the “Safe Streets and Roads for All” or SS4A grant program created by the $1.2 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act or IIJA enacted in November 2021. Applications for this round of SS4A grants are due by July 10.
Click Here to Download NOFA.
More Washington DC Fly-in Photos
The I-27 Advisory Committee held its fourth meeting on April 14, 2023 at University of Texas at Austin, Thompson Conference Center. This completes the meetings for the first two years. Mark your calendars for November 9, 2023 in Lubbock for the next meeting.
The meeting included additional review of the Communication Toolkit for Committee Outreach. Three Fact Sheets were reviewed. Below are some highlights for each of the Fact Sheets.
International Trade is a Key Economic Sector for the Ports-to-Plains Corridor Future Interstate
- The Ports-to-Plains Corridor improves freight movement and service with Mexico throughout the United States, making it faster, safer, and less costly to trade. Northbound commercial vehicle crossings are expected to reach 7.1 million in 2050, an increase of 173% since 2009
- Laredo, Del Rio and Eagle Pass Border Crossings had $262 billion in 2019 Cross-Border Trade
The Ports-to-Plains Corridor Future Interstate Would Impact the Economy
- Economic Impacts to the Ports-to-Plains Corridor and All of Texas
- The interconnected nature of the economy means there are spillover or multiplier effects across regions, such that increased economic activity in one area creates more economic activity in other areas nearby.
Estimated Interstate-Projected Economic Impacts
Rest of Texas Ports-to-Plains Corridor
$690M Travel Costs Saved Annually $3.4B
4,400 Jobs Created 17, 710
$540M Annual GDP Increase $2.2B
The Ports-to-Plains Corridor Future Interstate Would Improve Freight Movement
- Freight flow along the Corridor is generated by the energy and agriculture industries and the international border crossings of Laredo, Eagle Pass and Del Rio. Both Eagle Pass and Del Rio ports lack interstate connectivity, which limits their ability to attract economic development opportunities
- Projected Growth in Freight in the Ports-to-Plains Corridor
o Freight Volumes are expected to grow 78% between 2018-2050
o Freight Tonnage is projected to grow 73M tons to a total of 167M tons
- The future interstate would improve freight movement by:
o Reducing the time to travel the corridor by 1.5 hours by 2050
o Creating a fully access controlled facility with improved travel times, safety and reliability for trucks transporting energy, agriculture, and international trade products to markets throughout the United States
o Eliminating at-grade rail crossings
o Providing an alternate route for truck traffic from I-10, I-35 from Laredo to San Antonio, and I-35 to I-70 from Dallas to
Ports-to-Plains System in Texas: Implementation Strategy and Plan
Discussion and more details about the development of the Implementation Strategy and Plan for the Ports-to-Plains Corridor was held. The purpose of the implementation strategy and plan is to identify short-, mid-, and long-term improvements that upgrade the corridor to interstate standards. The implementation strategy and plan will include the following tasks:
- Update existing and forecasted conditions
- Determine planned and programmed projects
- Identify relief routes
- Conduct an infrastructure and gap analysis
- Determine projects and prioritize projects, and
- Prepare the implementation strategy and plan
Developing the implementation strategy and plan consisted of the following considerations:
- Connectivity and international trade
- Asset preservation and maintenance
- Multimodal passenger and freight
- ITS and emerging technologies
- Economic competitiveness
- Safety and mobility
- Costs and funding and Truck parking
The schedule is shown in the graphic Below.
Statewide and Rural Connectivity Corridors: Texas Trunk System
The Texas Trunk System is a network of highways outside urbanized areas to connect cities, major activity centers, marine ports, and ports of entry through rural Texas. It is made up of rural Interstate, Phase 1, and Other Trunk System highways.
A subset of the Texas Trunk System, the Key Corridors promote statewide connectivity, relieve urban congestion by providing high-capacity parallel routes, support international trade, and address safety needs in rural areas.
Approximately 52% or 5,100 miles of the existing trunk system is 4-lane divided or highway, including interstate highways.
Candidates for upgrade include approximately 35% or 3,530 miles of 2-lane and 14%, or 1,360 miles of 4-lane undivided.
Finally, if you are looking for the previously approved Fact Sheets, they are available through the links below.
About the I-27 Advisory Committee
Goals and Objectives
Agriculture is a Key Economic Sector for the Ports-to-Plains Corridor Future Interstate
Energy is a Key Economic Sector for the Ports-to-Plains Corridor Future Interstate
TxDOT District Updates
Representatives for each TxDOT District provided updates on Ports-to-Plains projects for each District including Projects Under Construction, Projects in 2023 Unified Transportation Plan (UTP), and Future Potential Projects Unfunded or Partially Funded. You may download these slides by clicking HERE.
A View from the International Trade Perspective … Recap
Texas’ trade with the world represents 15 % of total U.S. International Trade and Texas’ largest trade partners are:
- North America-41%
- Central/South America-9%
US –México trade has grown 657% between 1994 and 2022, increasing from $98 billion to $743 billion. Texas -México trade value increased by 681%from $67 billion in 1994 to $529 billion in 2022. 46% of US - México trade, and 62% of Texas - México trade crosses the border at Ports-to-Plains land crossings (Del Rio, Eagle Pass and Laredo).
Importance of Mexico’s trade is not just about what is manufactured in Mexico. Mexico also serves as an International Route for trade from Asia, Europe, South America. Lázaro Cardenas and Manzanillo handle more than 90% of México’s trade with Asia, transload via land ports to Texas is growing to avoid US West Coast Port congestion.
International Trade Corridors Impacts on Ports-to-Plains
This section focused on describing the impacts of trade to the US 83/US 277 Border Corridor:
Click HERE to download the entire I-27 Advisory Committee Presentation files for the April 13, 2023 meeting.
Click HERE to download the Meeting Summary
Why Invest in Heartland Expressway in Nebraska?
Click on the image below to view/download the full Impact Document.
Click Flyer above to Register.
Please join us for the 3rd Annual State of the Port of Eagle Pass Trade Summit hosted by the City of Eagle Pass.
This event will bring together community leaders focused on growing the region.
Interactive panel discussion including speakers:
- Caroline Mays, TXDOT Director of Planning and Modal Programs
- Kenneth Smith Ramos, Former Lead Negotiator USMCA (invited)
- Lauren Garduño, Ports-to-Plains President
- Dr. Daniel Covarrubias, Texas A&M International Professor
- Ken Roberts, WorldCity President
This is a special event, with limited capacity. Lunch will be served.
Please plan on attending a special networking mixer after the event.
Vice President of Membership & Marketing
PO Box 16226
Lubbock, TX 79490
Vice President of Operations
PO Box 758
Limon, CO 80828
Cell: (719) 740-2240
Theodore Roosevelt Expressway Association
PO Box 1306
Williston, ND 58802
Heartland Expressway Association
337 Main Street
Chadron, NE 69337