December 2022 Volume 20 Issue 12
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.
It has been said that Cyrus Avery who was at the time chairman of the Oklahoma Highway Commission, was given the title of “Father of Route 66.” But to find the birthplace of the now iconic route, you must go to Springfield, Missouri and include another businessman, John T. Woodruff who was promoting economic development opportunities in his community. The need for highways to reach rural parts of America, the need to bring new businesses to small communities and towns like Springfield, Missouri drove these two men to create a vision of a highway from Chicago, Illinois to Los Angeles, California which later was dubbed the Main Street of America. The rest is history, and a catchy song.
I had the pleasure of joining Kasey Coker and The High Ground of Texas group as we visited government agencies (Agriculture, Economic Development) in Austin this last week. This group is made up of economic development organizations and other interested parties from small and larger communities all over the Texas Panhandle including the High Plains, South Plains, Big Country and Permian Basin areas. As I listened to the EDC directors talk about projects they were working on for their respective areas, I was struck with the realization that this was where the rubber meets the road. Communities all up and down the corridor working hard to bring economic prosperity and quality of life enhancements for the people who live, work and play in the rural areas of our part of this great nation. And if you think about it, that is what our partners in Mexico and Canada want for their people too.
I also had a conversation with Clay Rice, economic development director for Pampa, Texas, and his sort of jokingly ask was to try to figure out a way to run the Ports-to-Plains corridor through Pampa, Texas. This highlights another key point. When businesses make decisions on where to locate or even relocate, the topic of a good transportation system inevitably comes up as a major influence on those decisions. Whether it is a four-lane divided highway with good access or better yet a future interstate highway, businesses want to know. And the sooner we can deliver this type of transportation network, the better.
This is why the good folks in Williston, North Dakota are working hard to improve the Theodore Roosevelt Expressway and why this upgrade is important to Rapid City, South Dakota too. This is why the people in Alliance, Nebraska are working hard to improve the Heartland Expressway and communities like Limon, in the eastern range of Colorado, see these improvements as a big deal too. This is why the city leaders in Raton and Clayton, New Mexico are investing their energies and resources to bring a future interstate through their communities. This is why a future interstate would bring amazing economic opportunities to the citizens of Boise City, Oklahoma. And I cannot begin to name all the towns in Texas. But if we ever do get to write a song about our corridor, I imagine we need to include Amarillo. There have been several good songs written about Amarillo.
Even the towns that exist on the current Interstate 27 corridor stand to benefit from its completion. Yes, the mother road went the last mile from Chicago to Los Angeles, but don’t forget Winona, Arizona. Tulia, Texas could be that Winona. So whether it is Lamesa to Midland, or Big Spring to San Angelo to Sonora. In each of these communities you will find economic development directors working to bring new business opportunities while improving quality of life and our upgraded highway will help them do it. Who knows, maybe someone someday will like the way our song ends too. Del Rio, Eagle Pass to the streets of Laredo.
Happy holidays and safe travels. More to come…
Lauren Garduño, President/CEO
FY 23 Omnibus Appropriations Benefits Ports-to-Plains
The FY 2023 Omnibus Appropriations legislation passed the U.S. Senate on Thursday, December 22, 2022 and the U.S. House on Friday, December 23, 2022 with President Biden set to sign the legislation on Friday. Included in the bill were four Community Projects benefitting the Ports-to-Plains Alliance in Texas. No Community Projects were submitted that were beneficial to the Corridor in our other eight states.
The first Community Project will be an initial step in moving from a Future Interstate Highway to an Interstate Highway in Texas Congressional District 19. Congressman Jodey Arrington requested $1.6 million, which will be matched by TxDOT with $400,000, bringing $2.0 million towards initiating Project Feasibility, Preliminary Design, and Environmental for interstate upgrades on segments of the Ports-to-Plains Corridor in the 19th Congressional District.
Project Name: Phase I Ports-to-Plains Corridor Interstate Planning
Purpose of Project: Following the designation of the Ports-to-Plains Corridor as a Future Interstate in the FY2022 Appropriations legislation, the project would initiate planning as recommended by the Ports-to-Plains Corridor Interstate Feasibility Study Final Report published in October 2020 by Texas Department of Transportation. These planning funds would be used within the 19th Congressional District for Project Feasibility, Preliminary Design, Environmental, and Final Design.
The next two Community Projects address the Lubbock Outer Loop (State Loop 88) which will be a major reliever route to the Ports-to-Plains Corridor. Each of these projects were submitted by Congressman Jodey Arrington. His request was for $2.0 million each. TxDOT will again provide the match. Each project will see an additional $500,000 resulting in $2.5 million for each project.
Project Name: SL 88 - Lubbock Outer Loop I From: CR 2240 (AVE U) To: 0.5 mi East of US 87
Purpose of Project: The project would convert 1.5 miles of FM 1585 to an interstate standard. Loop 88 connects to U.S. Highway 87, a segment of the Ports-to-Plains High Priority Corridor. The route objectives are defined as follows: Increase access to portions of the metropolitan area that are expected to grow over the next 40 years; Address growing transportation needs through the provision of additional capacity; improve the safety and efficiency of travel; and foster economic development in areas by providing increased accessibility.
Project Name: SL 88/US 87 Interchange - Lubbock Outer Loop I From: 114th Street (CR 8052) To: 146th Street (CR 7500)
Purpose of Project: The project is constructing the interchange between Loop 88 and U.S. Highway 87, a segment of the Ports-to-Plains High Priority Corridor. The project would convert 2 miles of US 87 to an interstate standard. The route objectives are defined as follows: Increase access to portions of the metropolitan area that are expected to grow over the next 40 years; Address growing transportation needs through the provision of additional capacity; Improve the safety and efficiency of travel; and Foster economic development in areas by providing increased accessibility.
The final project included in the FY 2023 Omnibus Appropriations bill will benefit the connection between the Ports-to-Plains Corridor and the Camino Real International Bridge at Eagle Pass. The bill contains $5 million requested by Congressman Tony Gonzales (TX-23). The City of Eagle Pass will provide the match of $1.25 million bringing the project total to $6.25 million.
Project Name: Camino Real International Bridge Roadway Reconfiguration
Purpose of Project: This project will drastically improve the mobility and connectivity of our export/import commercial traffic and will incentivize more commercial traffic to use the Port of Eagle Pass as their connection HUB along United States/Mexico. This project will significantly increase commercial traffic volume and generate more industrial and transportation jobs in the area. Increase in our export/import capacity and demand will not only be beneficial to the 23rd Congressional District but to Texas and the U.S. as the Port of Eagle Pass becomes a premier export/import HUB for trade amongst US and Mexico.
In the end, the FY 2023 Omnibus Appropriations legislation brings $13.25 million to projects benefiting the Ports-to-Plains Alliance. The Staff has already started work on identifying Community Projects for the FY 2024 Appropriations legislation. Obtaining additional interstate upgrade and interstate reliever route planning funds will be an important focus in Texas and New Mexico. We hope to see additional projects submitted across all of our states to expand the corridor.
As the 118th Congress begins in 2023, we urge you to contact your congressional delegation and DOT and their willingness to submit Community Projects benefitting the Corridor. Ports-to-Plains staff and consultants will work to get these projects submitted or to express support for your local projects. Community Projects allow members of Congress to demonstrate support for these projects.
Alternative Corridors – Connecting Texas Land Ports
On Tuesday, December 13, 2022, the Texas Transportation Commission heard a presentation on Texas Delivers 2050: the Texas Freight Mobility Plan. The presentation is available HERE. Next steps for Texas Delivers 2050 include initiating a 30-day public comment period opened on December 12th and will close January 10th, which will allow TxDOT to present our plan to the Texas Transportation Commission for adoption in January 2023. Once adopted by Commission, TxDOT can then submit to FHWA for review with the anticipated goal of receiving approval by FHWA before March 31st, 2023.
The complete draft Texas Delivers 2050 is available HERE. Please take a look at the plan and submit comments by the deadline of January 10, 2023.
Following the presentation, during the Commissioner questions and comments, Commissioner Alvin New, made some comments of great interest to the Ports-to-Plains Alliance. Speaking of alternative routes, New highlighted the opportunity that could be provided by an improved US 83/277 corridor connecting land ports in Texas including Laredo, Eagle Pass and Del Rio.
New stated, “By creating these alternate routes through the key corridors, we can help give trucks options. They are looking for time savings, productivity, the ability to stay on the road, and not get stuck in traffic. Their incented is to use alternate routes that are divided four-lane. I believe that the key corridors are specifically designed to help with Clear Lanes, frankly.”
He continued, “There is also the opportunity to think of what would be another Key Corridor to continue to let trucks move differently than they do currently. If you look, we tie all the seaports together with I-69, but we do not have a road that is divided four-lane that ties all the land ports together. So, I encourage the Commission to be looking at Highway 83 that starts in the Rio Grande Valley and runs all the way up toward Eagle Pass. Then it starts to be different highways, 277 up to Del Rio. And back to the issue of trying to move trucks out of metropolitan markets. If we look that road from all of those land ports up to I-10 where it intersects with Sonora, that allows trucks to go to the West Coast, go to Seattle, go to Denver, go to Phoenix, go to Los Angeles. The percentage of freight from our land ports going to California will blow your mind. It’s a large percentage. You could set it up where those trucks and those folks coming across those land ports would go to I-10 and west and the only city in State of Texas they would pass through is El Paso. So, you could move those people completely out of San Antonio, Austin, Fort Worth. So, I encourage us to look at a corridor along the border, for national security reasons and for the ability to help with congestion in the cities and metropolitan areas.”
We urge you to listen to the video. It is about six minutes. Thanks to Commissioner New for continuing to support statewide connection and alternative corridors.
One Million Pound Load Travels Theodore Roosevelt Expressway
Cal Klewin, Executive Director of the Theodore Roosevelt Expressway Association, often points out to NDDOT, North Dakota Legislature, and anyone else who will listen that the Theodore Roosevelt Expressway (U.S. 85) serves more oversize / overweight permitted loads than many of the four-lane corridors in North Dakota. In mid-November this year, an example of those permitted loads traveled the Theodore Roosevelt Expressway in South Dakota (U.S. 85), through North Dakota (U.S. 85 / US 2), into Montana and through the Port of Raymond (U.S. 16) on its way to Saskatchewan.
This permitted load was a turbine weighing nearly 1 million pounds, 25 feet wide with 36 axles moved by Barnhart Crane & Rigging of Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Thanks to North Dakota State Patrol and Watford City Police Department for the videos.
While U.S. 85 is now four-lane divided between Williston and Watford C and the Long X Bridge has been replaced with a four-lane bridge, the remainder of U.S. 85 in both North and South Dakota is two lanes.
The video is of Barnhart making the climb out of the Badlands near the North Unit of Theodore Roosevelt National Park on November 16, 2022. They used an additional truck to help pull the super load safely up the hill. North Dakota State Patrol
Turbine passes through Watford City. Watford City Police Department
Washington DC Fly-In
The Alliance will hold its first in-person Washington DC Fly-in since 2019 on March 27-31, 2023. (Travel days on the 27 and 31.) Mark your calendar and we will provide more information before the event. If you are interested in joining the Alliance in Washington DC please let Joe Kiely (719-740-2240 - firstname.lastname@example.org) know. We need to know who is coming and which nights they need lodging so Duffy can obtain a Hotel Block.
The schedule is:
- Monday, March 27th: Travel
- Tuesday, March 28th: House Office Visits
- Wednesday, March 29th: Senate Office Visits
- Thursday, March 30th: Overflow Congressional Visits and Agency Visits
- Friday, March 31st: Travel
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