December 2023  Volume 21  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.

Be Sure Newsletter Email is Allowed

As you may have noticed, the monthly Ports-to-Plains Newsletter is sent through our member database. Please be sure the email address is allowed on your system.



My youngest daughter Brooke stated the other day that Christmas was the best of all the holidays. “Not even close,” she said.  I kind of have to agree with her.  Before you even get to the reason behind the naming of the holiday, you can name all kinds of reasons that will rank this as the most wonderful time of the year.  For me it starts with good music, good food, and good fellowship with family and friends.  Then you have those Christmas movies (whether they are classics or the contemporaries on the Hallmark Channel).  Do you remember the Walton’s Christmas movie and the phrase “Goodnight, John Boy” when the family signed off at night? Or maybe it is Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer narrated by Burl Ives.


But maybe the best part of this holiday season is the family making travel plans to reunite with loved ones or college kids getting out at the semester break and getting to come home for a deserved rest.  All modes of transportation are pressed into service as airports and highways become crowded with traffic trying to meet the holiday rush.  Even our nation’s passenger rail service will see an uptick in demand.  I think we sometimes take for granted how good our transportation network is for connecting family and friends during these special times.  Our mature transportation network, in combination with revolutionary advancements in communication technologies, has allowed us to reach out and touch someone during these holiday seasons.  Just imagine how hard it was to get home for Christmas before we had paved roads or talk to loved ones before there were telephones.  I would tell you to appreciate the transportation improvements we enjoy today, even if it means we are temporarily stuck in traffic or airports; but what is truly amazing to me during this holiday season is the fact that an improved and advanced transportation network built by the Romans allowed a young man with his betrothed wife, heavy with child, to safely travel back to their hometown a little over two thousand years ago.   You know the rest of that story.

The Ports-to-Plains Alliance closes out a great year in 2023 with significant milestones all up and down the corridor.  Please take a look at our progress report included in our newsletter.  I think you will feel energized like I do as we make plans for even bigger things to come in 2024.  I also want to take this time to say farewell to Duffy Hinkle, our VP of Membership and Marketing who will be retiring at the end of the year.  You cannot replace someone like Duffy.  She has been the face and voice of Ports to Plains for over twenty-five years.  Thank you, Duffy.  

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all of you.  See you on the other side with more to come …


Lauren D. Garduño


U.S. House Approves I-27 Numbering Legislation

In a significant milestone for transportation development, the I-27 Numbering Act of 2023 (H.R. 3209) has achieved unanimous consent in the House of Representatives using the U.S. Senate number S.992. This bill, sponsored by Representatives Jodey Arrington (TX-19), Henry Cuellar (TX-28), August Pfluger (TX-11), Ronny Jackson (TX-13), Teresa Leger-Fernandez (NM-3), Troy Nehls (TX-22), and Lance Gooden (TX-5) formally designates the Ports-to-Plains Corridor as Interstate 27 (I-27).


Lauren Garduño, President/CEO of the Ports-to-Plains Alliance, emphasized the pivotal role of this legislation in propelling the Ports-to-Plains corridor toward interstate standards. "This numbering legislation championed by Congressman Arrington with the help of his staff is critical in the development and evolution of the Ports-to-Plains corridor to interstate standards," stated Garduño. "This legislation will help us secure funding and will allow us to add interstate signage as our corridor is upgraded to interstate standards."


Outlined in H.R. 3209/S.992, the route numbers for the future interstate highway span Texas and into New Mexico:

  • Laredo to Sterling City as I-27
  • Sterling City through Midland to Lamesa as I-27W
  • Sterling City to Lamesa as I-27E
  • Lamesa northbound through Lubbock to Amarillo passing through Dumas to Raton, New Mexico as I-27
  • The corridor north of Dumas as I-27N

This legislative success follows the 2022 designation of Interstate-27 (I-27) in March when President Biden signed into law the Appropriations Bill (FY 2022), recognizing the Ports-to-Plains Corridor as an addition to the Interstate Highway System.

In a parallel effort, the I-27 Numbering Act of 2023 (S.992), sponsored by U.S. Senator Ted Cruz and co-sponsored by Senators John Cornyn (R-TX), Martin Heinrich (NM), and Ben Ray Luján (D-NM), also secured unanimous consent, further cementing the designation of the Ports-to-Plains Corridor as Interstate 27 (I-27).


John Osborne, chairman of the Ports-to-Plains Alliance, expressed his enthusiasm, stating, "I am thrilled by the U.S. House of Representatives’ approval of approving route numbering for I-27 in Texas and New Mexico. This is another step forward in connecting the major economic centers throughout America’s heartland." “The approval emphasizes the commitment of political leaders and the Ports-to-Plains Alliance to enhancing trade, stimulating economic growth, and improving mobility for communities along the corridor, paving the way for a prosperous and transformative future.”


The 12-minute video below covers the entire U.S. House consideration of S.992.  The Ports-to-Plains Alliance appreciates the comments of Jodey Arrington (TX-19), Henry Cuellar (TX-28), and August Pfluger (TX-11) for their comments in support of S.992.


USDOT Awards $55 Million Grant for U.S. 85 Theodore Roosevelt Expressway Expansion Project

The Theodore Roosevelt Expressway, a crucial artery spanning from Rapid City, SD via Williston, ND to the Port of Raymond in Montana, the norther portions of the Ports-to-Plains Alliance Corridor which extends from Canada to Mexico, received a significant boost with the allocation of a $55 million Rural Surface Transportation Grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT). Spearheaded by the North Dakota Department of Transportation, this grant is poised to transform a pivotal segment of the U.S. 85 Corridor, elevating a two-lane highway to a four-lane thoroughfare and enhancing safety measures along the route.


The ambitious project, known as the Theodore Roosevelt Expressway Freight Safety Project, encompasses the widening of approximately 12.5 miles of the U.S. 85 Corridor. The initiative aims to not only expand the highway but also bolster shoulders and straighten curves. Notably, construction has already commenced between Watford City and the Long X Bridge, setting the stage for imminent enhancements along the Long X Bridge to State Highway 200 stretch. This funding shall apply to the segment shown in Green on the Project Overview Map.


USDOT emphasized the project's multifaceted strengths, citing its pivotal impact on safety, economic prosperity, freight movement, job creation, and innovative advancements. By elevating the rural road infrastructure from two lanes to four, the initiative seeks to vastly improve accessibility to emergency services and medical transportation in remote areas. Moreover, the upgraded corridor will significantly facilitate the transport of goods, particularly benefiting the region's crucial agricultural sector. Innovative Intelligent Transportation System (ITS) devices, such as Weigh in Motion sensors, dynamic message signs, and environmental sensor stations (ESS), are slated for integration into the corridor improvements.


This federal grant also unlocks additional financial avenues, triggering state funding from North Dakota Legislature through SB 1012. This legislation empowers the Department of Transportation to secure up to $50 million in matching funds. Furthermore, SB 1012 mandates the department to seek appropriations from the legislative assembly to reimburse any outstanding loans.
Elected officials have lauded this development as a pivotal step towards enhancing regional connectivity and bolstering economic vitality. Senator Kevin Cramer, Ranking Member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Subcommittee on Transportation and Infrastructure, highlighted the project's significance in bolstering interstate commerce and fortifying safety for local residents and travelers.


Echoing similar sentiments, Senator John Hoeven, a member of the Senate Transportation, Housing, and Urban Development Appropriations Committee, underscored the Theodore Roosevelt Expressway's pivotal role in connecting the region's energy and agricultural sectors. The expansion of U.S. 85 to four lanes, coupled with widened shoulders and a straightened roadway, is poised to alleviate traffic congestion, improve safety standards, and catalyze sustained economic growth for the region.


Theodore Roosevelt Expressway's transformative upgrade stands as a testament to collaborative efforts, federal support, and a resolute commitment to enhancing transportation infrastructure critical for the region's prosperity and well-being.


2023 Ports-to-Plains Alliance Progress Report 

Throughout 2023, the Ports-to-Plains Alliance has worked towards answers to three questions. This report will provide progress on those questions.


Why Join?


This question addresses Marketing Successes.

  • New Members: American StructurePoint, Ergon Asphalt & Emulsions, Inc., STV, Inc., Surveying & Mapping, LLC, Hunter Industries, LTD, Wright Asphalt Products Company, International Bank of Commerce, Texas Cattle Feeders Association, City of Raton, NM, and Cristoval Chamber of Commerce. Welcome to these new supporters!
  • Significant increase in Media coverage

Why Support?


This question addresses Legislative Successes.

  • Passage of I-27 Numbering Act of 2023 – S.992 was supported in a bipartisan effort in the U.S. Senate by Senator Ted Cruz and co-sponsored by Senators John Cornyn (TX), Martin Heinrich (NM), and Ben Ray Luján (NM) as well as in the U.S. House of Representatives by sponsored by Representatives Jodey Arrington (TX-19), Henry Cuellar (TX-28), August Pfluger (TX-11), Ronny Jackson (TX-13), Teresa Leger-Fernandez (NM-3), Troy Nehls (TX-22), and Lance Gooden (TX-5).
    • The I-27 Numbering Act (S. 992) officially numbers in the Future Interstate Highway in Texas and New Mexico segments of the Port to Plains Corridor as I-27.
    • The majority of the Corridor is I-27 with Sterling City to Midland to Lamesa as “I-27E”, Sterling City to Lamesa as “I-27W”, and will name the Dumas north spur as “I-27N” to the Texas border with Oklahoma.
  • The U.S. Senate and the U.S. House have included Appropriations Requests in the FY2024 legislation.
    • Currently, $26.965 million of federal funding is currently included in current legislation.
    • FY 2024 Congressionally Designated Project in the U.S. Senate with Member
      • Martin Heinrich (NM) has $1.6 million for Ports-to-Plains Corridor Interstate Planning in current legislation.
      • Deb Fischer (NE) has $12.865 million for the Heartland Expressway Four Lane Expansion - U.S. 26 between Minatare and U.S. 385 at Intersection L62A in current legislation.
    • FY 2024 Community Projects in the U.S. House of Representatives
      • Jodey Arrington (TX) has $8 million for Interstate Planning: U.S. 87 from Lubbock to Tahoka in current legislation.
      • Ronny Jackson (TX) has $2.0 million for Interstate Planning for U.S. 287 from Dumas to Amarillo in current legislation.
      • Rep. August Pfluger (TX) has $2.5 million for Construction: US 277 - Operational Improvements at San Angelo in current legislation.

Why Build?

This question addresses Construction Successes.

  • New Interstate Highway in Texas on the Ports-to-Plains Corridor: Approval from American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) to designate an interstate extension from the southern terminus of I-27 in Texas and run approximately 4.2 miles southward along the current U.S. Route 87.
  • In North Dakota, the Department of Transportation let a $77.3 million contract and construction is underway for four-lane highway extending 10.29 miles between the Long X Bridge and the Watford City Bypass on the Theodore Roosevelt Expressway.
  • Texas 2024 Unified Transportation Plan (UTP), a ten-year plan, approved in 2023, included 60 projects on the Ports-to-Plains Corridor with an estimated cost of $5.5 billion. This included sixty active projects including 101 miles of added capacity at an estimated cost of $1.6 billion, 11 interchange projects at an estimated cost of $509 million, 14 miles of new location projects at an estimated cost of $400 million, 8 Intersection/Operational & Safety Improvements at an estimated $252 million, and 9 Rehab/Maintenance projects at an estimated $187 million.
  • Nebraska Department of Transportation beginning preliminary engineering for four-lane expansion of 19 miles of U.S. 26 between Minatare and U.S. 385 at Intersection L62A on the Heartland Expressway.
  • In Colorado, the Department of Transportation completed adding passing lanes on CO Highway 71 on the Heartland Expressway in three locations along the roadway. At site one, a northbound passing lane were added. At site two, both northbound and southbound passing lanes were added. At site three, a southbound passing lane was added.
  • Texas Department of Transportation recommended adding U.S. 277/U.S. 83 on the Ports-to-Plains Corridor between Sonora and Laredo as one of five Key Rural and Statewide Connectivity Corridors.  This adds to U.S. 87 already one of the five between the Texas-New Mexico state line and San Angelo.
  • In Oklahoma, the Department of Transportation continued its process of four-lane expansion the existing U.S. 287 on the Ports-to-Plains Corridor by reconstructing the existing roadway, purchasing right-of-way and moving utilities. Current work of grading, drainage, bridge and surface construction 9.3 miles north of Boise City at an estimated $11 million and right-of-way and utilities 13.28 miles north of Boise City at an estimated cost of $1.2 million.
  • $55 million Discretionary Grant from USDOT to North Dakota Department of Transportation for Four-lane expansion of U.S. 85 from Long X Bridge to State Highway 200 on the Theodore Roosevelt Expressway
  • Colorado Department of Transportation near completion of the U.S. 287/Lamar Downtown concrete reconstruction at an estimated $18 million on the Ports-to-Plains Corridor

CLICK HERE to view/download this document in a 1-page; 2-sided format to share with your boards, councils and commissions.


Ports-to-Plains Alliance Announces 2024 Washington DC Fly-in

The Ports-to-Plains Alliance gears up for its much-anticipated 2024 Washington DC Fly-in, set to take place from March 4th to March 8th. This annual event brings together a consortium of stakeholders, policymakers, and enthusiasts in the transportation sector to discuss crucial issues and advocate for transportation spending bills.

Schedule Overview


The schedule for this year's Fly-in is structured to optimize engagement and dialogue:

  • Sunday, March 3: Travel Day
  • Monday, March 4: Travel Day & Board Meeting at 6:30 pm
  • Tuesday, March 5: U.S. House Office Visits
  • Wednesday, March 6: U.S. Senate Office Visits
  • Thursday, March 7: Overflow U.S. House and Senate Visits, Meetings with Admin Departments
  • Friday, March 8: Travel Day

Venue and Accommodations


Attendees are encouraged to secure their accommodations promptly. The Fly-in has reserved a block of rooms at the esteemed Embassy Suites Georgetown, located at 1250 22nd Street, NW, Washington, DC 20037. This hotel, known for its excellent amenities and convenience, offers a group rate of $336 per night. The block reservation spans from Sunday, March 3rd to Friday March 8th.


Link to Embassy Suites Georgetown Block Reservation:


The Embassy Suites by Hilton Washington DC Georgetown is extending several exclusive offerings to Fly-in attendees:

  • Complimentary Breakfast: Start your day off right with a nourishing breakfast each morning.
  • Complimentary Evening Reception (Adults only): Unwind and network during the evening reception.
  • Complimentary Wi-Fi: Stay connected with complimentary Wi-Fi in sleeping and meeting rooms.
  • Hilton Rewards Points: Earn Hilton Rewards Points during your stay.
  • Waived Destination Fee: Enjoy added value with a waived destination fee.

RSVP and Booking Information


To ensure seamless arrangements, participants are kindly requested to inform Joe Kiely of their attendance and manage their hotel and flight reservations accordingly. Take advantage of the group rate and the exclusive amenities offered by Embassy Suites Georgetown.


The 2024 Washington DC Fly-in promises to be an eventful and impactful gathering, fostering conversations crucial to the future of transportation infrastructure. Mark your calendars and prepare for a productive week of engagement in the nation's capital!
For further inquiries or assistance, please contact Joe Kiely ( – 719-740-2240).


2024 Ports-to-Plains Alliance Conference Set to Foster Connectivity and Economic Growth

The 2024 Ports-to-Plains Alliance Conference, a significant gathering aimed at bolstering regional connectivity and economic collaboration, is scheduled to take place in Dickinson, ND, from September 10th to 12th, 2024. Hosted primarily at the esteemed Astoria Hotel & Event Center (363 15th St W, Dickinson, ND, 58601), this pivotal event will also feature engagements and tours in Medora, ND, amplifying the scope of discussions and opportunities for participants.

Anchoring the event, the Astoria Hotel & Event Center will provide a conducive setting for the Board Meeting and the vibrant Opening Reception on Tuesday, September 10th. The agenda extends into Wednesday, September 11th, encompassing a day of insightful sessions during the General Conference, culminating in an Evening Reception fostering networking and deeper connections among attendees.


The conference's pinnacle on Thursday, September 12th, begins with continued sessions at the Astoria Hotel & Event Center until 11:00 am, followed by immersive tours across Medora. Participants can anticipate a comprehensive experience, including visits to the town of Medora, the site earmarked for the forthcoming Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library (currently under construction), and the South Visitor Center of the Theodore Roosevelt National Park.


Organizers are committed to ensuring a seamless experience for attendees, urging early flight reservations for those planning to fly into Dickinson. United Airlines, operated by SkyWest dba United Express, offers two daily arrivals—1:18 pm and 10:38 pm—each facilitated by a 50-seat Regional Jet. Return departures are scheduled at 6:48 am and 2:10 pm.


In the upcoming months, further details regarding Conference Registration and Hotel Reservations will be communicated. The anticipated cost for accommodation is approximately $124 per night, ensuring attendees can partake in this enriching event without financial strain.


The 2024 Ports-to-Plains Alliance Conference stands as a pivotal juncture for stakeholders, policymakers, and industry leaders to converge, deliberate, and forge pathways toward bolstered regional connectivity, economic growth, and collaborative initiatives. Stay tuned for updates and mark your calendars for this not-to-be-missed event shaping the future landscape of regional development.


Lauren Garduño

President & CEO

Ports-to-Plains Alliance

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

Joe Kiely

Vice President of Operations

Ports-to-Plains Alliance

PO Box 758

Limon, CO 80828

Cell: (719) 740-2240 


Tina Scarborough

Business Manager

Ports-to-Plains Alliance

Lubbock, TX

(806) 777-4162


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



Connect with Us: