June 2023  Volume 21  Issue 6


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.



Recently I read this news headline, “Philadelphia Bridge Collapse Focuses Attention on I-95 Corridor Freight Movements.” Everyone I am sure has followed the collapse of a span on I-95 and the focused attention on getting it repaired and functional again.  Companies that rely on timely deliveries of products and produce had to scramble to find alternate routes to minimize disruptions.  The article went on to list that millions of tons of freight estimated at billions of dollars in value are carried by truck annually through this region. Everyone just assumes listening to the news that there will be serious problems and impacts.  Interesting though when you read further you come upon this statement, “Fortunately for freight movement in the I-95 corridor, the bridge collapse occurred in a part of the highway network that has major alternative routes.” 


Fortunately, is the key word here.  Due to a redundant network of turnpikes and interstates, that region was able to minimize their disruption to freight distribution and delayed passenger movements until the bridge span could be repaired and opened again.  What happens to our transportation grid as we travel west into the midwestern United States?  While we love our open spaces and big sky country, we do not have the luxury or the redundancy in our transportation network to fall back on when there are major disruptions due to events like the Pennsylvania I-95 bridge collapse or even catastrophic weather events affecting our transportation routes.  

I can recall two examples in Texas that highlight this impact.  In 2001, four days after 9/11, a barge hit the Queen Isabela Causeway bridge in South Texas knocking out a span that connected South Padre Island to the mainland effectively cutting off the island.  Thanks to some herculean efforts the span was put back within 60 days.  But even to this day there are discussions about alternate routes to the Island.  In 2004 a flood event at Toyah washed out a span on the westbound lane of IH 20 in West Texas. Due to the location, westbound IH 20 traffic had to detour 80 additional miles south and west on IH 10 to continue their journey to El Paso.  You will find this same remoteness all up and down the midwestern United States.


Why am I sharing this with you? It is important to understand the resiliency and redundancy conversation that everyone is having these days about our national infrastructure network.  Providing alternate north/south routes through the heartland of the US that are either up to interstate or four lane divided standards will become critical to prevent disruptions to freight and people movement.  This includes improving the infrastructure on the eastern range of Colorado which today only has one north/south interstate running the length of the state.  And of course, I don’t even have to mention the positive impact that reliable transportation will have on our freight traffic at the Mexican and Canadian borders.  But I will anyway.  For those traveling this summer, please check your tires when planning your trip.  I am seeing a lot of what we call here in Texas, tire gators (loose tread) due to some extreme heat.  


More to come …

Lauren Garduño, President/CEO


2023 Conference in Eagle Pass, TX

2023 Ports-to-Plains Alliance Conference Registration is Open.


Information on Registration, Lodging, Agenda, Sponsors and Eagle Pass Attractions are now available at: https://portstoplains.com/conference/2023-annual-conference/ 


September 13-15, 2023
International Center of Trade
Eagle Pass, TX

Conference Theme: WE DELIVER

Yes, WE DELIVER … Transportation Funding, Transportation Policy, Agriculture Goods, Energy Production, International Trade, and more across the entire Ports-to-Plains region. 

Lauren Garduño, President/CEO, Ports-to-Plains Alliance will provide a State of the Alliance. Other topics will include: Delivering Food, Fuel, Fiber and Trade on the Corridor; Delivering Food, Fuel, Fiber Trade with Mexico; Delivering Food, Fuel, Fiber Trade with Canada; Delivering Corridor Improvements and the Impact on Safety; Interstate Standards and Delivering Border Security; IH 27 Advisory Committee Delivering Implementation; Delivering Projects on the Theodore Roosevelt Expressway; Delivering Projects on the Heartland Expressway; Delivering State and Federal Legislation; and Delivering Roads for Tomorrow.  Marc Williams, Executive Director, TxDOT will provide the Keynote Address at Lunch on Thursday, September 14th. Alejandro “Alex” G. Meade III, Commissioner, Texas Department of Transportation will speak at Breakfast on Friday, September 15th.


Contact Lauren Garduño, President/CEO at lauren.garduno@portstoplains.com or 325-514-4114, or Joe Kiely, Vice President of Operations at joe.kiely@portstoplains.com or 719-740-2240, or Duffy Hinkle, Vice President of Membership & Marketing at duffy.hinkle@portstoplains.com or 806-790-7196.


Interested in Sponsoring? 


Link to Sponsorship Opportunities: https://portstoplains.com/wp-content/uploads/2023/05/PTP_Sponsorship_Opportunities_one-sheet_2023.pdf 


When you decide the level at which you wish to sponsor, simply complete the Commitment Form: https://portstoplains.com/sponsorship-confirmation-for-ports-to-plains-alliance-conference/ 


Regional Update – Fort Morgan, CO – July 12, 2023

You are invited to the Ports-to-Plains Regional Update.

The Ports-to-Plains Alliance is hosting a Regional Update on Wednesday, July 12. 2023 in Fort Morgan, CO.


Location: Morgan Community College, Founders Room
920 Barlow Rd, Fort Morgan, CO 80701
Time: 1:00 – 3:00 pm MDT


Agenda: History of the Alliance Corridor – Lauren Garduño, President/CEO, Ports-to-Plains Alliance
Heartland Expressway in Colorado – Cathy Shull, Board Member, Ports-to-Plains Alliance
Heartland Expressway in Nebraska – Deb Cottier, Chair, Heartland Expressway Association
Corridor Update -- Lauren Garduño, President/CEO, Ports-to-Plains Alliance


After Update Tour: Tour the improvements around Fort Morgan made during the HGTV Hometown Takeover: https://www.hgtv.com/.../season-2-location-announcement


Cost: FREE BUT PLEASE REGISTER SO WE KNOW HOW MANY TO PLAN FOR: https://pal.memberclicks.net/2023_regional_update


Heartland Expressway Annual Meeting

Mark Your Calendars
August 15, 2023


West Texas Legislative Summit

Registration: https://sanangelochamberofcommerce.growthzoneapp.com/ap/Events/Register/WpMj1D0P


Hotel Information: https://sanangelochamberofcommerce.growthzoneapp.com/ap/CloudFile/Download/PoEZBZZr 


Tentative Agenda: https://sanangelochamberofcommerce.growthzoneapp.com/ap/CloudFile/Download/Lb15OzyP 


Attendee FAQs: https://www.sanangelo.org/wtls-sponsor-info-copy/ 


July 31, 2023 6:00 PM - August 1, 2023 4:00 PM (CDT)


The 19th Annual West Texas Legislative Summit will focus on federal issues with the overarching theme of “Food, Fuel, and Enforcement: West Texas Securing the Nation.” Each year, we rotate from a federally center theme to a locally centered theme. This allows an opportunity for our Honorary Co-Hosts, Congressman August Pfluger, Senator Charles Perry, and State Representative Drew Darby, to address issues from the federal or state level which directly impact our industries. The 2023 Summit will focus on Agriculture, Energy, Economics, and National Security.


This year's summit kick offs with the Summit Soiree, previously referred to as the dinner and reception, the evening of Monday, July 31st at 6:00pm. You will have the opportunity to meet with various legislators, agency leaders, panelists, sponsors and other attendees. We anticipate an attendance of more than 400 people from across the state and country. We have scheduled a full day of panel discussions to begin on Tuesday, August 1st from 7:45am-4:00pm


Third “Texas” Coast Gateway

The Texas Freight Advisory Committee (FAC) met at the new Stassney TxDOT Headquarters in Austin on Thursday, June 22, 2023. One of the FAC focuses was on Implementing Texas Delivers 2050, the Texas Freight Plan. The Objective is to communicate findings and resources from Texas Delivers 2050 to districts, divisions, MPOs and other partners. Refine roles and priorities for joint initiatives. The rollout will be an eight-month effort beginning this fall with identification of partners and interests. The rollout should result in integrating freight considerations into TxDOT District and MPO planning.


Multimodal Rural Connectivity Program


The objective of this implementation program is to enhance multimodal freight connectivity in rural areas. Integrate safety, technology, economic opportunity, and other concerns from network perspective. Collaborate with Corridor Branch on rural freight issues. This program will connect already identified Key Corridors like U.S. 87/83 and U.S. 83/PTP. This program will be implemented over eighteen months starting with a review of technical topics, such as freight generators, network connectivity, safety, oversize/overweight, wildlife crossings, military connections, e-commerce, and technology opportunities. Once the review is completed, the next step will be vetting findings with stakeholders. Vetting will be done through regional industry forums, stakeholder survey, and regional partner workshops. Planned results include developing a rural freight profile and guide, and rural statewide, corridor, and subarea fact sheets. It will be important to be sure that Future I-27 be included in this implementation step.



The discussion by the FAC of the Third Coast was interesting. The objectives included: Determine TxDOT’s role in advancing multimodal trade infrastructure. Continue leadership in freight. Partner with public and private sectors to increase economic competitiveness. Many comments were made regarding the image above. The FAC felt the “Third Coast” might indicate third place. Suggestions were made to rename as the “Texas Coast”, as a better descriptor.  Discussions also included the need for a wider path to the north.  For example, the Bakken Basin in North Dakota is not included, yet the supply chain is much like that of the Permian Basin. The approach is shown in the image below.


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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