February 2023  Volume 21  Issue 2


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.



When you get a chance sometime take a look at a map of the current road network of the United States. What do you see?  Especially west of the Mississippi! Outside of the state of California, there are basically three north-south interstates that cross our nation, IH 15, IH 25, and IH 35.  Why would that be the case when in the same western region of the U.S. we have seven interstates and three class 1 railroads that run east to west?  Of course, part of the answer lies in how the U.S. progressed as a nation over its almost 250-year existence.  The manifest destiny and western expansion were in no doubt aided by the irresistible opportunity to find a better life in a fertile land, plus one or two exciting gold rushes of the day.  Part of the answer could also be attributed to timing.  Where did we want to go when the interstate system became a reality?  


In 1952, Bob Hope sang a song with Jane Russell and Roy Rogers titled “Buttons and Bows” in the classic film Son of Paleface.  Stay with me here.  In that song are the lyrics “east is east and west is west and the wrong one I have chose.” Even as late as the 1950’s the mind set was about going west.  This of course was preceded by the great western migration from Oklahoma and the Midwest during the depression and dustbowl era depicted in Steinbeck’s “Grapes of Wrath”.  

Then in 1956, President Eisenhower signed the National Defense and Interstate Highways Act and the race was on.  Literally states ran full steam competing to see who could build their portion of interstate first.  What was the purpose and need: to be able to deploy military equipment and defense armaments quickly and efficiently from the east coast to the west coast on a transportation system that included highways and the Class 1 railroads.   There was still lingering that go west mindset and the end result, of course, is what I described in the first paragraph, seven east-west interstates to compliment the major railroads.  


So, here we are on another President’s Day in 2023.  What is the next step in the evolution of our national interstate system? On the books, we have one proposed east-west interstate IH 14 and two proposed additional north-south interstates, IH 69 which runs north-east and parallels the Mississippi River and then we have IH 27 on the P2P corridor which runs nearly due north and south right through the midwestern US.  The purpose and need for these new interstates, of course, is about trade and economic development, and still about military defense with homeland security added.  But it is also about improving the quality of life by building a transportation system that provides a cleaner environment, is sustainable, and equitable for our population that wants to choose this region as home.  At the same time, we will have to design a future interstate that accounts for the way we will move in the future taking into account the technologies that are coming on board and future technologies that have not even been thought of yet.  For us the future is now and we will strike while the iron is hot.  More to come…

Lauren Garduño, President/CEO


Colorado Update to Legislators and Business Interests


PRO 15, which advocates for an area including 15 counties in Northeast Colorado and the Ports-to-Plains Alliance provided an update on the Colorado Trade Corridor at two events in Denver on Friday, February 3, 2023. A breakfast event focused on legislators and a lunch event focused on business interests. The Colorado Corridor included the Ports-to-Plains Corridor (P2P) on U.S. 287 between the Colorado Oklahoma State Line and Limon, and IH 70 from Limon to Denver. The Heartland Expressway (HE) includes IH 76 between Denver and Brush and CO 71 between Limon and the Colorado Nebraska State Line.

Lauren Garduño, President/CEO of the Ports-to-Plains Alliance showed a presentation providing an update. In Colorado, the corridor serves a region including 25 counties including counties adjacent to the P2P/HE Corridor; and counties within 100 miles of the primary Corridor.

Lauren provided an update on the impacts of those counties on Colorado’s economy by highlighting the state’s key industries. For agriculture, these counties provide $1.7 billion or 75.2% of Colorado’s total annual Crop Sales and $4.8 billion or 91.1% of Colorado’s total annual Livestock Sales. In terms of agriculture exports by truck, the leading export to both Canada and Mexico is Meat/Seafood. This is true currently and projected to remain the same by 2050. Exports of Meat/Seafood to Canada in 2020 were valued at $334.2 million and is projected to grow to $755.3 million by 2050. For Mexico, exports of Meat/Seafood were valued at $260.7 million with a projected growth to $641.9 million by 2050.


Next, despite the fact that many immediately focus the tourism economy on Colorado’s mountains, these 25 counties have a significant impact on the tourism economy of Colorado. In terms of Direct Tourism Spending, 58.5% or $14.2 billion is within these corridor counties. 104,790 or 56.9% of Colorado’s Tourism Employment is within these counties.


In terms of movement of all goods by truck on an annual basis to Mexico, this is projected to grow by 166.0% from $930 million in 2020 to $1.5 billion in 2050. For Canada, the projected growth was 114.1% from $1.0 billion in 2020 to $2.4 billion in 2050. Domestically Colorado has a significantly larger export market by truck to the eight states along the entire Port-to-Plains Corridor from Texas to North Dakota. In 2020, trucks exported $18.3 billion, growing by 112.7% to $38.9 billion in 2050 to the eight other Ports-to-Plains Corridor states. These flows are not new. The 2002 Eastern Colorado Mobility Study (ECMS), completed by CDOT, shows the importance of north-south movement of goods. Will Colorado be prepared to see over twice the value of goods moving on is highway system by 2050?

Texas, like the congestion on IH 25 in Colorado, has similar issues along IH 35. Within the 2020 Ports-to-Plains Interstate Feasibility Study, requested by the Texas Legislature, both the economic impacts and potential diversions from an interstate upgrading for the Ports-to-Plains Corridor in Texas. The proposed interstate highway was estimated to drive a $55.6 billion impact on the Texas GDP, travel time savings along the corridor in Texas of $3.4 billion annually, a 76% return on investment, and the Benefit-Cost Ratio of 2.4. A key finding impacting Colorado is that diversion, provided by the Texas Interstate Upgrade, will drive an increase in Average Daily Traffic on IH 25 in Colorado.  The diversion also extended to IH 70 West into the Colorado Mountains (see graphic below). Is additional traffic on IH 25 in Colorado acceptable without looking at alternatives? The 2002 ECMS found that the Heartland Expressway between Brush and Nebraska would result in the greatest diversion from IH 25. “Improvement of the SH 71 connector, for example, would result in the greatest diversions in the segment of I-25 between Colorado Springs and Denver and the segment north of Denver.”

New Mexico DOT also completed an economic study on the impact of upgrading the New Mexico Ports-to-Plains Corridor to an interstate highway. “The designation of the Ports-to-Plains Trade Corridor (U.S. Highway 87/64) between the New Mexico-Texas state border and Raton would provide positive economic development impacts for northeast New Mexico.”

Following those studies, letters supporting Future Interstate Designation were provided to Congress by TxDOT, NMDOT and OKDOT. Colorado did not provide a letter to the Future Interstate Highway. The designation effort was reduced to Texas and New Mexico. In 2022, the Texas and New Mexico portions of the Ports-to-Plains Corridor were designated by Congress as a Future Interstate Highway.


Impacts of the Corridor, in Colorado, demonstrate its counties provide a significant and growing impact on the statewide economy, as well as the traffic counts moving goods and people to and from Colorado. Are there alternatives to the diversion from an Interstate Highway in Texas to IH 25 and IH 70 West in Colorado? What could the economic impact be for an alternative interstate highway to IH 25. This is why the Ports-to-Plains Alliance is urging Colorado to complete a Colorado Ports-to-Plains Interstate Feasibility Study.


The Alliance urges you to communicate the importance of the proposed Colorado Interstate Feasibility Study to the Governor, Legislature, and CDOT. Completing the Ports-to-Plains and Heartland Expressway Corridors in Colorado is good for the state and good for business.


Statewide and Rural Connectivity Corridors in Texas

In Texas, Category 4 - Statewide Connectivity Corridor Projects funding addresses “Mobility and added capacity projects on major state highway system corridors which provide statewide connectivity between urban areas and corridors, to create a highway connectivity network composed of the Texas Highway Trunk System, National Highway System, and connections from those two systems to major ports of entry on international borders and Texas water ports.”

Statewide Connectivity Corridor Network (SCCN) was first approved in March 2017. The SCCN includes the Texas Trunk System initially designated in 1990. In 2018, the Texas Transportation Commission proposed a more refined Texas Truck System which includes the interstate system, and goes beyond with the purpose of improving: rural mobility, connections to communities over 20,000 in population, and connections to commerce with a goal to have four-lane or better divided roadways. A Phase 1 Texas Trunk System was identified. U.S. 87 from the Texas/New Mexico State Line to San Angelo and SH 158 between Midland and Sterling City, both part of the Ports-to-Plains Corridor, were designated as part of the Phase 1 Trunk System. The rest of the P2P Corridor was included in the Trunk System.

In 2019, the Texas transportation Commission identified four portions of the Phase I Trunk System as Key Trunk System Corridors: U.S. 87 from TX/NM State Line to IH 10, U.S. 69 from Beaumont to U.S. 175 (South of Tyler), U.S. 59 from Laredo to Houston; and U.S. 281 from San Antonio to IH 20.

On January 25, 2023, Caroline Mays, Director of Planning and Modal, provided an update and recommendations from TxDOT to the Texas Transportation Commission. TxDOT had completed an evaluation of nine additional corridors to add as Statewide and Rural Connectivity Corridors. Corridors of interest were: U.S. 57, U.S. 83/P2P, U.S. 90, Future I-14 BRY, U.S. 377, U.S. 54, U.S. 84/U.S. 183, Borderland Expressway; and U.S. 190/SH 63. These corridors were evaluated based on Safety, Congestion, Statewide Connectivity, and Economic Development. Based on the criteria, US 83 / Ports-to-Plains, From Sonora on IH 10 through Del Rio, Eagle Pass and Laredo to Pharr, ranked first.

TxDOT recommended US 83 and Ports-to-Plains (P2P) as a proposed New Key Statewide/Rural Connectivity Corridor.

The approval of TxDOT to add US 83/P2P as an additional Key Statewide and Rural Connectivity Corridor, combined with the existing key Statewide and Rural Connectivity Corridor of US 87 & US 83, would result in the entire Ports-to-Plains future interstate highway now being identified for potential Category 4 Rural Connectivity and Category 12 Strategic Priority funding except for the portions  on SH 349 between Lamesa to Midland and SH 158 to Sterling City, US 277 from I-10 to San Angelo and US 287 between Dumas and the Texas/Oklahoma Stateline.


Next Phase of TRE (U.S. 85) Corridor in ND Contracted for Construction

The North Dakota Department of Transportation (NDDOT) has let a contract to construct the four-lane divided highway from Watford City to the Long X Bridge.  The contact was approved with Central Specialties Inc (CSI) with a low bid of $77,229,503. This project extends 10.29 miles between the Long X Bridge and the Watford City Bypass. The southern part of the project bisects the Little Missouri Badlands, an area characterized by highly eroded buttes and hillsides composed of soft silts and clays with sparse vegetation.

NDDOT has already upgraded U.S. 85 to a four-lane divided highway from Williston to Watford City, including reliever routes, and the replacement of the Lewis and Clark Bridge over the Missouri River. The Long X Bridge has already been upgraded to four-lanes with clearance for freight movements.


West Texas Communities in Austin

Both Panhandle Days held February 20-22, 2023 and Lubbock Day at the State Capitol held February 21-22, 2023 brought to the Texas legislature, the priorities of West Texas to Austin.  Duffy Hinkle, Vice President of Membership and Marketing for Ports-to-Plains Alliance, joined both groups in Austin.

The purpose of Panhandle Days is to deliver a unified message to state legislators on important legislative issues that affect the 26 counties located in the Texas panhandle, such as the agriculture, arts, education, energy, healthcare, tourism, transportation, and workforce development.

For more than 100 years, the business community has united together for Lubbock Day at the State Capitol to help grow Lubbock and promote a strong business community through economic development, legislative involvement and bellowing voices in Austin.  


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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