July 2023 Volume 21 Issue 7
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.
I wonder if there will ever be a day when driving down a road, there will be lanes dedicated to commercial trucks and passenger vehicles only. I wonder! Already in some of our metropolitan areas with multiple lanes of traffic, commercial trucks are restricted from the left lanes. But unless some physical barriers are erected, sometimes that restriction is not always followed. We already have high occupancy vehicle lanes in our larger cities, so the dedicated lanes for commercial trucks do not seem too far-fetched.
Why would this be important to us and important to the Ports to Plains Corridor? Recently, while traveling back to Texas from Fort Morgan Colorado, I became fascinated with the large number of trucks on US 287 from Kit Carson to Lamar. Counting by tens, it struck me as being significant that eight out of ten vehicles on average were commercial trucks. Eighty percent that day on my non-statistically significant sample. What was the impact on driving behavior? Commercial trucks and passenger vehicles yo-yoing back and forth to different speed differentials, passing in places that were not safe to pass, and in some cases avoiding rear end collisions where braking distances vary between types of vehicles. At the end of the day, that can make for a stressful driving experience. Add a bad weather event and the driving experience is now untenable.
I have mentioned more than once that the highways of tomorrow and especially the interstates of tomorrow will not be built like the highways of yesterday, those built for our mothers and fathers, our grandmothers, and grandfathers. Earlier this week, I had the pleasure of making a presentation on Ports to Plains to the New Mexico Legislative Finance Committee. By arriving early, I was fortunate to observe a presentation made by a mining company that is mining and transporting fracking sand in the Permian Basin. It was the transportation part of their presentation that fascinated me. The company is proposing to use a combination of conveyers and trucking operations to deliver sand to the well sites. They commented that the use of conveyors is not new in mining operations, but what they proposed to do with their trucking operations stood out. They are proposing to use an autonomous trucking with a combination of multiple trailers running on fixed routes on private roads. The presenter’s comments mentioned the fact they would have the opportunity to test this trucking configuration on private roads before being introduced to the public road network. It was an aha moment for me.
For Ports to Plains, I have a ten year and twenty year build out plan. I am sharing this with you because we must start planning today for the highways of tomorrow. And that means we cannot ignore what private industry is currently testing and implementing in the transportation space. It could be that we build dedicated lanes for trucks only separating passenger traffic from commercial trucks. It may be that the dedicated lanes of tomorrow accommodate autonomous traffic on fixed routes leaving the driving public a more enjoyable driving experience. I wonder!
More to come …
Lauren Garduño, President/CEO
Have You Registered for the Ports-to-Plains Alliance Conference?
September 13-15, 2023 is coming fast. NOW IS THE TIME TO REGISTER! Do not miss this opportunity for updates and networking. Progress across the Corridor is accelerating. Represent your community or business and see the upcoming opportunities. The list of speakers continues to grow.
• Alex Meade III, Commissioner, Texas Department of Transportation
• Marc Williams, Executive Director, Texas Department of Transportation
• Deb Cottier, Chair, Heartland Expressway Association
• Jorge Ramon, Economic Development Director, City of Del Rio
• William F. Mackey, Jr., PE, Senior Vice President, Kimley Horn
• Lauren Garduño, President/CEO, Ports-to-Plains Alliance
• Epigmenio “Epi” Gonzalez, P.E., Laredo District Engineer, Texas Department of Transportation
• Cal Klewin, Executive Director, Theodore Roosevelt Expressway Association
• George Antuna, Garibay
• Dhruva Lahon, PE, Senior Project Manager, Kimley-Horn
• David Pore, Partner, Hance Scarbrough LLP
• Michael Arellano, P.E., Texas Department of Transportation
• Thanos Smith, Paragon, VTOL
• Cheri Huddleston, Legislative Consultant, Hance Scarbrough LLP
• Roberto Rodriguez, Laredo District Director of Transportation Planning and Development
Information on Registration, Lodging, Things to Do, and Sponsors
1-27 Numbering Act of 2023 (S.992) Passes in Senate Allocating an Official Name to the Ports-to-Plains Corridor
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) to formally name the Ports-to-Plains Corridor Interstate 27 (I-27) passed with unanimous consent on Thursday, July 27, 2023.
“The Ports-to-Plains Alliance is very appreciative of the ongoing support by Senator Ted Cruz for the Future Interstate Highway in Texas and New Mexico,” said Ports-to-Plains Alliance President/CEO Lauren Garduño. “Senator Cruz continues to work in a bipartisan way to move this project forward. With the support of Senator Cornyn and both Senators Lujan and Heinrich from New Mexico, Senator Cruz worked to pass the future interstate designation into law in 2022. Senator Cruz has been instrumental in passing the route numbering bill in the U.S. Senate. Once this bill passes the House and is signed into law this will represent another big win for West and South Texas and for Texas and New Mexico in general. Thank you, Senator Cruz, for your continued support for this important corridor.”
S.992 designated the route numbers for the future interstate highway through Texas and into New Mexico as follows: Laredo to Sterling City as I-27; the connection from Sterling City through Midland to Lamesa as I-27W; the corridor between Sterling City and Lamesa as I-27E; Lamesa northbound through Lubbock to Amarillo passing through Dumas to Raton, New Mexico as I-27; and, the corridor north of Dumas as I-27N.
This legislation follows the designation of Interstate-27 (I-27) in March 2022 when President Biden signed into law the Appropriations Bill (FY 2022). The designation recognized the Ports-to-Plains Corridor from Laredo, Texas to Raton, New Mexico as an addition to the Interstate Highway System.
Representatives Jodey Arrington (R-TX), Henry Cuellar (D-TX), August Pfluger (TX-11), and Ronny Jackson (TX-13) also sponsored the I–27 Numbering Act of 2023 (H.R. 3209) in the House.
“As a local government official in northern New Mexico, it is very encouraging to see our U.S. Senators in New Mexico and Texas working together in a bipartisan way to benefit our communities,” said Coby Beckner, Mayor Pro-tem, City of Clayton, NM. “The passage of S.992 giving the route number of I-27 to the corridor across northern New Mexico is an important step. Thank you to New Mexico U.S. Senators Heinrich and Luján for working with Texas U.S. Senators Cruz and Cornyn to complete this step towards a Future Interstate Highway which will bring significant economic benefits to northern New Mexico.”
“I’d like to express my appreciation to Senators Cruz, Cornyn, Luján, and Heinrich, as well as Congressmen Arrington, Cuellar, Fluger, and Jackson for their efforts to move this project forward,” said John Osborne, chairman of the Ports-to-Plains Alliance. “By allocating an official name and number, the I-27 corridor is not only one step closer to fruition, but it brings emphasis to the significance of the corridor and it’s prosperous future.”
Update on FY24 Approriations Requests
Another step in the FY 24 Transportation and Urban Development Approriations was made as the legislation moves from the U.S. Senate and House Approriations committees to the full Senate and House. Three Interstate Planning requests passed through the appropriations committees. Congressman Jodey Arrington’s request received approval for $8.0 million for Interstate Planning on U.S. 87 between Lubbock and Tahoka. Congressman Ronny Jackson’s request was approved for $2.0 million for Interstate Planning on U.S. 287 between Dumas and Amarillo. The third request was in New Mexico where Senators Martin Heinrich and Ben Ray Luján had a request approved for $1.6 million for planning the interstate highway on U.S. 64/87 in northern New Mexico.
Additionally, two requests for construction funding were also included in the legislation. Nebraska Senator Deb Fischer’s request for funding for the Minatare to L62A was included for $12.965 million on the $94.7 million construction of the next stage of the Heartland Expressway. Congressman August Pfluger has $2.5 million included for Operational Improvements on U.S. 277 in San Angelo.
It is important to know that this is another step in the process of approval of these appropriations requests. These bills will now go to the full U.S. Senate and House and then signed by the President.
Senator Fischer provided a News Release and listing of Projects CLICK HERE.
Senator Heinrich provided a News Release and listing of Projects CLICK HERE.
Regional Update at Fort Morgan, CO
The Ports-to-Plains Alliance hosted a Regional Update on Wednesday, July 12. 2023 in Fort Morgan, CO. The event has 40 registered participants. We would like to thank Morgan Community College for allowing us to meet on its campus in Fort Morgan.
The Update was kicked off with Lauren Garduño, President/CEO of the Ports-to-Plains Alliance, providing a history of the entire Ports-to-Plains Alliance Corridor. View or download the Ports-to-Plains Corridor History presentation by clicking on graphic below.
Next, Cathy Shull, Board of Directors, Ports-to-Plains Alliance, presented the Heartland Expressway in Colorado. View or download the Heartland Expressway in Colorado presentation by clicking on the graphic below.
Then the participants heard Deb Cottier, Chair, Heartland Expressway Association update on the Nebraska Heartland Expressway. View or download the Nebraska Heartland Expressway presentation by clicking on the graphic below.
Finally, Lauren Garduño returned to provide a Corridor Update. View or download the Corridor Update presentation by clicking on the graphic below.
Heartland Expressway Annual Meeting
Mark Your Calendars
August 15, 2023
Cruz and Cuellar Supporting International Bridge Development
U.S. Senator Ted Cruz and U.S. Representative Henry Cuellar held a roundtable and press conference at Laredo's World Trade Bridge on July 24, 2023 to discuss the bipartisan, bicameral effort to expedite the Presidential permitting process for international bridges.
Duffy Hinkle, Vice President of Membership and Marketing, Ports-to-Plains Alliance, was able to attend both the roundtable and press conference.
Cruz and Cuellar, along with U.S. Senator John Cornyn, Rep. Tony Gonzales, Rep. Vicente Gonzalez, and Rep. Monica De La Cruz, are working hard to expedite the Presidential bridge permitting process to avoid unnecessary delays in bridge construction.
Laredo Mayor Dr. Victor Trevino and other local, state and national leaders addressing the progress made in expediting approval of international bridge projects in South Texas and discussing what comes next.
Cruz introduced legislation on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and Cuellar introduced language through the House Appropriations Committee for the Fiscal Year 2024 State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs appropriations bill to speed up the permit process. Cruz cited his past experience with Cuellar working on the I-27 Ports-to-Plains Corridor as evidence of what can be achieved when attacking an issue from both sides.
“Henry and I work together on a lot of matters. Henry and I worked hand-in-hand on passing the legislation to authorize I-27, the Ports-to-Plains interstate that will flow from Laredo all the way up to Canada,” he said. “Henry led the effort in the House, I led the effort in the Senate. We both got that done at the last Congress. That was a big victory for South Texas. That helps when you can press from both sides of Capitol Hill.”
Below is a video of the complete press conference.
New Mexico Transportation Infrastructure Revenue Subcommittee
On Monday, July 24, 2023, Lauren Garduño was given the opportunity to present to the New Mexico Transportation Infrastructure Revenue Subcommittee. The New Mexico Legislative Council created the Transportation Infrastructure Revenue Subcommittee on May 1, 2023 to develop recommendations to meet the needs of New Mexico's businesses and residents for transportation and infrastructure and to identify current and new sources of revenue. The Subcommittee Work Plan included the Ports-to-Plains Trade Corridor.
Lauren shared the Ports-to-Plains History, Ports-to-Plains in New Mexico, Ports-to-Plains: the last five years, Ports-to-Plains: this last year, and Infrastructure Funding in New Mexico. Click on the image below for complete presentation.
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