August 2023  Volume 21  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.



Having a father who was a schoolteacher and coach exposed me to team sports early in my life.  I spent a lot of time throwing a baseball, kicking a football, and shooting a basketball.  I even became somewhat skilled at these events.  But one gift that eluded me was the ability to run fast.  Oh, how I wanted to run fast! But it was not to be. That still never kept me from enjoying a good race, however.  In fact, one of the prettiest races to watch is the 200-meter dash.  It used to be the 220-yard dash, but I am dating myself. That race is especially fun to watch when the runners come out of the turn and head towards the homestretch.  I will say, the race I admire the most though is the 26.2-mile marathon.  Here is a race that does not always go to the swiftest, but rather endurance, stamina, and strategy can all play a part in the success of the event.  Too many times runners cannot figure out the right pace and eventually falter in the end having expended resources at the wrong time.  

By the time you read this article, I will have completed one year as your President and CEO.  When I try to gage how much we have accomplished this last year I have to resist the urge to not think like I am running a sprint, but rather a marathon.  People have continually asked me this last year about how long will it take to build out this interstate in Texas and New Mexico and four-lane divided everywhere else.  When you look at the whole Ports-to-Plains Corridor including the Heartland and Theodore Roosevelt Expressway, approximately 50 percent or 2,369 miles have been upgraded to four-lane divided standards.  That took approximately 20 years.  So, you can see why people are asking.  I have some good news, however.  That 20 years included some of the leanest when it comes to transportation funding.  Most DOTs were having to make hard decisions between maintaining existing infrastructure, reducing congestion in their metropolitan areas, or adding capacity to rural corridors like Ports-to-Plains.  The rural corridors did not win out.  So, it is amazing that 50 percent of the corridor was even upgraded at all. 


In Texas, that funding outlook has greatly improved.  Just this month, the Highway Commission approved a $100 billion ten-year program with the addition of oil and gas severance, and sales taxes dedicated to transportation funding.  Over a billion of that was directed towards our corridor.   Specifically, Laredo, Eagle Pass and Amarillo saw significant additions to projects on the P2P corridor. And Midland will benefit from an additional billion dollars to be spent on energy sector projects which includes our SH 158 and SH 349 in the Permian Basin.  This last year we witnessed the implementation of one of the largest federal transportation infrastructure bills in history.  What that means is that we have a great opportunity to secure major funding for our corridor in all nine of our P2P states.  

So, I am excited about the future. And I know that the race we are running is a marathon.  And knowing that allows us to properly plan for, strategize, and implement a program that will deliver on the mission we have laid out before us.  That mission is a future IH 27 in Texas and New Mexico and a four-lane divided transportation corridor everywhere else linking Laredo, Texas to Williston, North Dakota and the Port of Raymond, north of Culbertson, Montana connecting the United States with Canada and Mexico. 


More to come …

Lauren Garduño, President/CEO


Progress in Texas 2024 UTP

On August 16, 2023, the Texas Transportation Commission approved the FY 24 Unified Transportation Plan (UTP). The UTP is TxDOT’s annual 10-year plan that guides the funding development of transportation projects across the state, identifies how much transportation funding the state expects to have over the next decade and how to distribute it to address TxDOT’s strategic goals, and includes all transportation projects that TxDOT is developing for construction over the next 10 years. The 2024 UTP includes a total of $100.6 billion distributed across the 12 UTP funding categories for construction. Additionally, the UTP guides and authorizes the development of projects estimated to let over the next 10 years, which totals $34.2 billion. The estimated $142.3 billion total represents a historic investment in Texas’ transportation system. The 2023 UTP included a total of $85.1 billion for construction and $24.8 for development of projects with a total investment of $116.9 billion. The $19.2 billion for 2024 UTP rural investment is a historic level. In 2016, the rural investment was $2.2 billion. The projects listed in the UTP are only for the Category 2, Category 4U, Category 4R, and Category 12.

That is progress! But there is more to the story about investment in projects benefiting the Ports-to-Plains Corridor in Texas.  Annually, the Ports-to-Plains Alliance reviews projects in the UTP. In 2023, projects benefitting the Ports-to-Plains Corridor totaled about $1.14 billion.  In the approved FY 2024 UTP, projects increased by over 90 percent to $2.17 billion. Exciting increase in investment in the Ports-to-Plains Corridor in Texas. 

Lauren Garduno, President/CEO of the Ports-to-Plains Alliance provided the Transportation Commission with comments prior to their approval of the 2024 UTP.


Texas Legislators Support Projects in 2024 UTP

The Ports-to-Plains Alliance would like to thank the Texas Legislators who supported Ports-to-Plains projects through two letters to the Texas Transportation Commission. The first letter, dated June 6, 2023, signed by 18 legislators, stated “We support the Commission and TxDOT making planning funds a priority for this Future Interstate Highway and these Key Statewide and Rural Connectivity Corridors. The benefits of the Future Interstate Highway are only realized when it is constructed segment by segment. In preparation for drafting the 2024 Unified Transportation Program, we encourage the Commission and TxDOT to provide planning authority for segments along the Ports-to-Plains Corridor.”


To view the complete June 6th letter with signatures, CLICK HERE.


The second letter, dated August 6, 2023, signed by 14 legislators, stated “After reviewing the initial draft of the 2024 UTP, we would like to commend the Commission and TxDOT on its commitment to funding transportation projects in rural Texas and more specifically for identifying multiple projects along the Ports-to-Plains Corridor in the initial draft of the 2024 Unified Transportation Program.- In particular, we are pleased to support the following projects that were identified in the 2024 draft UTP, the widening of US 83 in Webb County and the upgrades of SL 480 in Maverick County near Eagle Pass.


To view the complete August 6th letter with signatures, CLICK HERE.


Texas State Senator Charles Perry (SD-28) led this legislative effort to support Ports-to-Plains projects in the FY24 UTP.  Also signing were Senators Roland Gutierrez (SD-19), Judith Zaffirini (SD-21), Pete Flores (SD-24), and Kevin Sparks (SD-31). From the Texas House, signers were Representatives Ryan Guillen (HD-31), Richard Pena Raymond (HD-42), Andrew S. Murr (HD-53), Stan Lambert (HD-71), Drew Darby (HD-72), Eddie Morales (HD-74), Tracy O. King (HD-80), Brooks Landgraf (HD-81), Dustin Burrows (HD-83), Carl H. Tepper (HD-84), John T. Smithee (HD-86), Four Price (HD-87), and Ken King (HD-88).


2023 PTP Resolutions

In early July, the Ports-to-Plains Alliance sent a request of its membership to consider a new Resolution supporting the Planning and Construction of I-27 in Texas. The new Resolution provides updated support for the Planning and Construction of I-27 in Texas. 
In 2019, we had a strong response to local resolutions supporting the Future Interstate Designation. Those resolutions were very important to the success of that effort, both with TxDOT and Congress. With designation accomplished, we have found during the last two years of Appropriations Requests that the value of those previous resolutions continues to weaken. 


This new Resolution accomplishes two Purposes: 1) Urges the Federal Congressional Delegation and TxDOT to invest in the development and construction of Future Interstate Highway 27, and 2) urges TxDOT to invest in the development and construction of Future Interstate Highway 27 through pre-UTP Planning Authority, Development Authority within the UTP; and Letting Authority within the UTP.


To date we have received twelve executed resolutions, in the effort in 2019 we received 78 resolutions.  This is important to continue to move development and construction forward in future years along the Texas Ports-to-Plains Corridor.


You may download the Draft Resolution by CLICKING HERE.


Thank you for those who have submitted executed resolutions and I know others are working the resolution through their legislative process.  If you have questions, either about the resolution, or the status of an organization, drop a line to Joe Kiely, Vice President of Operations at


The Ports-to-Plains Alliance Announces Annual Conference 

(Lubbock, Texas) -- On September 13-15, 2023, the Ports-to-Plains Alliance will convene its 2023 Conference in Eagle Pass, Texas, one of our border port cities, sharing updates on efforts and work accomplished this last year on the Ports-to-Plains Alliance Corridor. The conference is open for registration by the public as well as leaders across North America. Current registrations show participants from Texas, New Mexico, Colorado, Nebraska, North Dakota and Mexico. “The theme for this conference is ‘We Deliver’,” said Lauren Garduño, President and CEO at the Ports-to-Plains Alliance. “The theme speaks to the impact of the Ports-to-Plains Alliance delivering infrastructure, economic opportunity, international trade, energy, and agriculture across North America.”


Diverse Agenda -- Make plans to join an expected audience of 150 for an informative and engaging agenda with presentations on international and domestic trade, impacts of infrastructure improvements on economic development, transportation safety, and border security.  Find out the latest from our congressional delegations on funding opportunities up and down the corridor as well as the latest on our efforts to provide route numbering for future Interstate 27 in Texas and New Mexico.   Stay to the end and get a taste of the highways of tomorrow as we close out our conference with some great presentations on new technology for future highways.


Great Speaker Line-up -- There will be an all-star line-up of speakers headlined by TxDOT Executive Director Marc Williams, P.E. and newly appointed Texas Transportation Commissioner Alex Meade III from the Rio Grande Valley.  Finally, you will find value in our conference as we hear presentations from congressional delegations, engineers, planners, business leaders, economic development directors, and visionaries during our two-day event.   So don’t delay, make plans now and register to join us in Eagle Pass, Texas.


Information on the conference, including registration, lodging, sponsors, agenda and things to do in Eagle Pass are available at: and select Conference Information. If you have questions, contact Duffy Hinkle, Vice President of Membership and Marketing at (806-790-7196), or Joe Kiely, Vice President of Operations at (719-740-2240).


Heartland Expressway Annual Meeting

The segment that is next on the docket for evaluation connects Minatare to the junction of 385 and L-62A, so that’s the next segment that we’re going to study,” stated Doug Hoevet, the Highway District Engineer for District 5 with the Nebraska Department of Transportation.

Attendees also heard from Ports-to-Plains Alliance CEO Lauren Garduño about the alliance and its mission. Garduño, originally from West Texas, worked extensively developing the southern portion of the corridor.


TxDOT: Ports-to-Plains System in Texas

The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) is looking to the future with an implementation strategy and plan for the Ports-to-Plains System in Texas. The Ports-to-Plains System in Texas is expected to be a 963-mile corridor that will connect four interstates, 24 state highways and 17 U.S. highways to enhance rural connectivity across the state. The new system will support a growing population, the economic centers of West and South Texas, facilitate the movement of goods, international trade and key industries supporting national defense in the area. The purpose of the implementation strategy and plan is to identify short-, mid-, and long-term improvements that upgrade the corridor to interstate standards.


TxDOT is receiving public input on the Ports-to-Plains System.  Ports-to-Plains Alliance requests that Texans provide input for this implementation strategy. TxDOT provides two methods of input.  The first is a Survey. The Survey take only a few minutes and is available by CLICKING HERE.


The second method is an Interactive Map. TxDOT wants your feedback on locations that are important to you. Provide comments via the interactive map. You can drag a pin on to the map and add comments. Select one of the icon categories and provide a comment. Interactive Map is available by CLICKING HERE. 

Within the interactive map, you can not only make comments using the categories, but you can see the comments others have made with the ability to agree or disagree with each individual comment. The Ports-to-Plains Alliance has provided a significant number of comments from information already available in the Ports-to-Plains Interstate Feasibility Study, 2020 Texas Mexico Border Transportation Master Plan, and projects in the 2024 Texas UTP. PLEASE TAKE A LOOK AT LEAST IN YOUR AREA. Add comments, agree or disagree with the comments of others.

This input will directly impact the implementation strategy to be created by TxDOT with additional input by the I-27 Advisory Committee.


TxDOT will continue to collect feedback until the comment period ends on Thursday, Aug. 31, 2023.


2023 Pathways for Trade – September 20-21, 2023

The Laredo Economic Development Corporation is proud to present the 30th Pathways for Trade, The North American Logistics and Manufacturing Symposium in Laredo, Texas, September 20-21, 2023.


This year’s theme is entitled “Cold Chain: Supply Innovations and Trends” and will be focused on top issues facing 3PLs and cold storage warehousing including the following topics: Power Consumption, Labor and Productivity, Long-Term Contracts, Industry Consolidation, Cold Storage Layout, Freezer-Grade Solutions, Multiple Cold Temperature Zones, and Multiple Regulations and Requirements.


CLICK HERE for information on Registration and Lodging information.


Lauren Garduño

President & CEO

Ports-to-Plains Alliance

Abilene, TX 79602
Cell: (325) 514-4114 

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

Cell: (719) 740-2240 


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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