December 2020

Volume Number 18


Issue Number 12

The Ports-to-Plains Alliance Board of Directors held their last meeting of the year (via Zoom) on November 16th. A heart-felt thank you goes out to our chair, John Osborne for his thought-provoking and inspiring leadership and to our volunteer board members for their time, commitment, expertise, and devotion to the Ports-to-Plains Alliance. Without these incredible leaders and their passion, the Alliance would not be where we are today in reaching its goals and securing a safer and brighter economic future for citizens along the Corridor. 

Ports-to-Plains Alliance 2021 Membership invoices will be emailed to point of contacts on Dec. 12. The continued support of our members is crucial to the ongoing success of the Alliance and we appreciate each and every one of you. 

The Ports-to-Plains Alliance has a beautiful and modern new logo! See it below in the newsletter.

Also included in this newsletter is an article on the new rail port that will soon be constructed in San Angelo, Texas. Congratulations to economic development director, Guy Andrews and his staff at the City of San Angelo Development Corporation and to vice president of economic development, Michael Looney and staff at the San Angelo Chamber Commerce as well as all other partners who worked diligently on this industrial project. 

The North Dakota governor has made a proposal to use bonding as a method of making long-term investments in infrastructure including U.S. Highway 85 on the Theodore Roosevelt Expressway.

Again in this newsletter, we have included additional findings from the Corridor Interstate Feasibility Analysis on interstate expansion. The Ports-to-Plains Alliance continues to move forward on this initiative and look forward to the new year and all the possibilities it will bring.

2020 has been a difficult year for everyone. While we didn't get to see many of you in person this year, please know we have continued to work hard on your behalf. 

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to each and every one of you! 

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.


Membership Renewals

Expect to see Membership Renewal Invoices for 2021 which will be emailed on December 12, 2020.  Be sure that you have included in your contacts to ensure you receive the renewal notice as well as newsletters from the Ports-to-Plains Alliance. The Ports-to-Plains membership year runs through December 31st each year. 

If you are not a current member of the Ports-to-Plains Alliance, membership information is available at: Membership rates are available for Cities and Counties; Chambers of Commerce, Economic Development Organizations, College and University Memberships; Individuals; Business Investment; and State Trucking Associations. There is a link to requesting to join on the page linked above or you can contact Duffy Hinkle at 806-790-7196 or

2020 has been a very successful year across the nine-state region as Ports-to-Plains continues its advocacy at federal and state levels. See the one-page summary of accomplishments below.

Link to Download PDF

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Ports-to-Plains Alliance Reveals New Logo

After 23 years, the Ports-to-Plains Alliance has retired its historical logo. The new logo below carries over the concept of the compass from the historical logo, but in a newer, more modern setting.

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San Angelo Rail Port Construction Set to Begin Before End of Year

The City of San Angelo Development Corporation has entered a public-private partnership with South Plains Lamesa Railroad (SPLRR) for the development of a multi-commodity railroad transloading facility, otherwise known as a rail port. The port will enhance the efficiency and profitability of industry in the Concho Valley by delivering bulk freight imports and exports to the United States and Mexico. 

The facility will be located on a 180-acre tract east of Schwertner Road between FM 2105 and 50th Street. It will connect to the Texas Pacifico Transportation branch of the South Orient Rail Line, the portion of railroad that spans from Presidio, Mexico, up to San Angelo Junction in Coleman County.

The sale of the 180-acre site to SPLRR closed in October 2020. Construction will begin prior to the end of the year and initial operations should begin January 2021. SPLRR will oversee the design, construction and management of the rail port.

“The relationship built between the City of San Angelo and South Plains Lamesa Railroad will deliver a major economic development service to San Angelo and the Concho Valley,” said Michael Looney, vice president of economic development for the San Angelo Chamber of Commerce. “Rail freight will greatly reduce costs and increase the cargo transportation efficiencies of our many industries that will, in turn, create more economic prosperity for our city and region.

“The San Angelo Chamber of Commerce is very proud to partner with the City of San Angelo Development Corporation staff and board of directors on this historic industrial development.”

South Plains Lamesa Railroad, LTD. is uniquely qualified to develop, maintain and operate a multi-commodity bulk freight facility. Established in 1993, SPLRR owns and operates a rail port in Slaton, Texas that has expanded from an original five miles to now more than 23 miles of track. The company also operates a rail port facility at Pueblo, Colorado with 28 miles of track, providing industrial switching, rail car storage, rail car repairs and other switching services.

Texas Pacifico Transportation (TXPF) has endorsed the San Angelo Rail Port operation and entered into a services agreement with SPLRR. TXPF is a major partner in the development and success of the South Orient Rail Line (SORR), having just awarded a $14 million contract for rail improvement work. This was a significant step in the reopening of the rail freight corridor that connects freight movements between Texas and Mexico.

“The City of San Angelo Development Corporation (COSADC) is proud to be a partner in the development of the San Angelo Rail Port by securing the property for the project and entering into a performance agreement with SPLRR that will operate and eventually own the facility,” said Guy Andrews, COSADC economic development director.

“The impetus for the rail port came about by extensive investigation by our Chamber of Commerce partners lead by Michael Looney and consultant Rodger Horton of Shea Transportation Consulting into the feasibility and demand for such a facility.”


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Opportunity for Construction Funding on North Dakota U.S. Highway 85 on the Theodore Roosevelt Expressway

North Dakota’s Governor Doug Burgum, provided his biennial 2021-2023 budget proposal on Thursday, December 3, 2020. In that presentation, he included a proposal for transportation that would benefit the next segment of U.S. Highway 85 on the Theodore Roosevelt Expressway.

In March 2019, the Record of Decision was signed for the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for U.S. Highway 85 between Watford City and Interstate 94 at Belfield. Approval of the EIS opened the ability to begin upgrading this 62-mile two-lane highway to a four-lane highway. The first construction project on the corridor was the replacement of the Long X Bridge over the Little Missouri River which was completed in October 2020.

The next segment proposed for upgrade to a four-lane highway is the 10.3-mile section connecting the existing four-lane highway south of Watford City to the Long X Bridge. North Dakota DOT’s estimated budget for the project is $104.5 million.

Governor Burgum proposed, as part of the budget, that North Dakota take advantage by funding major infrastructure projects with a $1.25 billion bonding package, backed by earnings from the state's Legacy Fund. Burgum outlines why it is the right-time for the State of North Dakota to do bonding. Listen to the 24-second clip to hear his reasoning.

Burgum Reasons for Bonding

The Legacy Fund is a constitutional amendment approved by 67% of the North Dakota voters in 2010. It was designed to convert oil revenue, a finite resource, to cash and create a permanent fund for future generations. Burgum outlined five criteria for Legacy Investment. A portion of Legacy Fund earnings would be used to create a Legacy Bond Repayment Fund to make the debt payments on the $1.25 billion in bonds.

Included in the $1.25 billion bonding would be $325 million for infrastructure projects which would include the four-lane expansion of U.S. Highway 85 on the Theodore Roosevelt Expressway. 

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Corridor Interstate Feasibility Analysis and Findings

Source: Ports-to-Plains Corridor Interstate Feasibility Study

The next section of the Ports-to-Plains Interstate Feasibility Study compares the Interstate Upgrade to the 2050 Baseline.

The Baseline analysis assumes only currently planned and programmed projects are implemented along the Corridor by 2050.  These planned and programmed projects are included in the 2020 Texas Unified Transportation Plan (UTP)

The Interstate Upgrade analysis assumes improvements to provide a continuous-flow, fully access-controlled facility with a minimum of two lanes in each direction separated by a median within a typical 300- to 500-foot right-of-way.

The Advisory Committee found that the Interstate Upgrade is essential.

Safety Findings

In 2050, the Interstate Upgrade estimated crash rate reduction corridor-wide over the 2050 Baseline is 21%.  Compared to the 2018 crash rate the reduction would be 41%.


 Mobility Findings

The Interstate Upgrade would reduce corridor travel time in 2050 over the Baseline by 89 minutes.  This is in addition to the Travel Time reduction of 20 minutes provided by the Baseline over the 2018 Travel Time. Total Travel Time Savings between 2018 and the 2050 Interstate Upgrade is 109 minutes.

 Freight Movement Findings

The Interstate Upgrade would attract truck traffic from nearby parallel routes, as well as national routes like I-10, I-35 from Laredo to San Antonio, and I-35 to I-70 from Dallas to Denver. Also provide improved access to international trade gateways of Del Rio, Eagle Pass and Laredo.

Energy and Agriculture Products to Market Findings

The reduction in travel time, safety, increased market access radius, and increase in route reliability provided by the Interstate Upgrade will help improve the movement of energy and agriculture energy industry products to market.

 Link to Printable Feasibility Study Above (pdf)

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 Check out the newest Ports-to-Plains Video!

Click to View This Video

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Ports-to-Plains Alliance Staff

Duffy Hinkle

Vice President of Membership & Marketing
PO Box 16226
Lubbock, TX 79490
P: 806-368-6235

Joe Kiely
Vice President of Operations
PO Box 758
Limon, CO 80828
P: 719-740-2240

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

Deb Cottier
Heartland Expressway Association
337 Main Street
Chadron, NE 69337
P: 308-432-4023