June 2024  Volume 22  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.

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In the early nineteenth century, the western borders of the United States were places like Ohio, and Tennessee.  As our nation’s population continued to expand, the eastern states were longer able to contain the migration that was about to occur.  Often you would hear the phrase or even see a posting, “Gone to Texas”.  Well, that migration continues even today.  Statistics show that close to 1300 people a day are coming to Texas.  That is up from the 1100 per day reported four years ago.  Over 37,000 a month are moving to the Lone Star State.  That projects to 47 million people by 2050 where we are at 31 million today.  That will be a lot of mouths to feed.


When I think about where all these people will live, I understand that there will be metropolitan areas that will continue to grow larger.  Our border cities will see significant growth. And it looks like the population in the Permian Basin rises and falls with the value of oil and gas.  But I think even the rural areas of the state will continue to see growth as people look for reasonable land prices and lifestyles that are not consumed by the mass of humanity of our large cities.  That will also include remote work options that will allow people to work and live in rural places.

I will give you two observations to highlight this point.  The first one is a fond childhood memory of visiting my grandparents who lived on a small farm in Estancia Valley near Stanley New Mexico.   My grandmother’s brother farmed about two miles away and I always enjoyed walking over to play with my cousins.  These farms are located ten miles north of Moriarty and maybe ten miles east of the Edgewood area. In the early 70’s there were zero homes between these two farms and my walk over included crossing a couple of fences.  Today you can count at least five homes between these two places and over twenty homes in the vicinity as people have found ways to get out of big cities like Albuquerque and Santa Fe.  My second example is closer to my home.  We farm and ranch along a farm to market road that is located about 35 miles from the nearest big city of Abilene with a population of 117,000.  This farm road in the early 90’s had the lowest traffic count in the county, 1200 vehicles per day, about 5 vehicles per hour.  Every time I had to move farm equipment between places, I used to think about the 5 chances per hour that I had to catch a ride back to my pickup.  That traffic has doubled today as farms are breaking up into 20 acre “ranchettes” and sold to people who also want to escape the city.  


Even as I write this, our rural area is getting fiber laid.  That is both a boom and a bane.  The boom is because we need fiber in the rural areas of our states.  The bane is the fact that it will accelerate these population moves from city to the country as more of our workforce experiences working remotely.   According to our state demographer, 2.3% of the Abilene workforce worked from home in 2012.  By 2022 that number had jumped to 7.7%.  The extreme was the Austin/Round Rock area with 6.4% working from home in 2012 to 28.0% in 2022.  I know as you read this you are thinking, “Lauren, what you are describing in Texas will not happen in northeastern New Mexico, western Oklahoma, or eastern Colorado, and if I am on the Heartland or Theodore Roosevelt Expressway, surely people will not move to fill up our open plains and Big Sky Montana country!” Yes, Texas did rank number one in population growth from 2020 to 2023, but number nine on that list was Colorado, and with the amount of rural land on this corridor, this conversation about population growth could be a possibility.  Next month, I will spend some time discussing how our corridor can help manage these population trends we are seeing today and what that might look like. 


more to come …


Lauren D. Garduño


U.S. 85/TRE Expansion Continues

Thank you to North Dakota Department of Transportation for providing drone footage on the construction taking place on U.S. 85/TRE between Watford City and the Long X Bridge.


Senators Submit Congressionally Designated Spending Requests supporting the Corridor

In the May, 2024 Newslane the U.S. House of Representatives FY25 Community Project Funding requests were summarized. This month's Newslane will highlight the U.S. Senate requests benefitting the Alliance. Just as with the U.S. House requests, we are now at the second step of U.S. Senate members reviewing all the requests they receive and prioritizing those needs be they transportation, agriculture and rural development, commerce, energy and water development, etc. Two Senators in New Mexico, two Senators in Colorado and one in Nebraska submitted three projects to the U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies for consideration totaling $13.6 million.

Senator Martin Heinrich and Senator Ben Ray Lujan (NM)

Project Name: Interstate Planning Funds for City Location Study at Raton

Project Recipient: City of Raton

Project Location: Raton, NM

Amount Requested: $1,600,000

Purpose of Project: The City of Raton will conduct an interchange alignment study as part of the Ports-to-Plains Corridor Interstate Planning process. This planning project supported by NMDOT assists New Mexico in completing a City Location Study at Raton. Determining the alignment between US 87 (Future Interstate 27) and I-25 will allow the city to begin developing that area sooner.

Senator Michael Bennet and Senator John Hickenlooper (CO)

Project Name: SH 71 Corridor Improvements (Heartland Expressway) (Planning Project ID: 1023 in 10-Year Plan)

Project Recipient: Colorado Department of Transportation

Project Location: Weld County, CO

Amount Requested: $5,000,000

Purpose of Project: The SH 71 Corridor Improvements project is included in the CDOT 10-year plan. Weld County in CDOT Region 4, eastern Colorado, extending along the Heartland Expressway (CO 71) from the Colorado – Nebraska state line to CO 14, covering approximately 27.5 miles. CDOT will determine the specific location within this segment. This project includes reconstruction of corridor, shoulder widening, safety, operational, and Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) components as described by CDOT in the Fact Sheet for the SH 71 Corridor Improvements in the 10-year Plan.

Senator Deb Fischer (NE)

Project Name: Chadron North on Highway 385

Project Recipient: Nebraska Department of Transportation

Project Location: Dawes County, NE

Amount Requested: $7,000,000

Purpose of Project: Add safety enhancements to the Heartland Expressway


Registration Open for 2024 Ports-to-Plains Alliance Conference

The Alliance between Ports-to-Plains, Heartland Expressway and Theodore Roosevelt Expressway is all about Connecting North America.  This is the Theme of the Conference.

The time to register for the 2024 Ports to Plains Annual Conference is now! The conference website is open at Ports to Plains Conference 2024. Here you can find the latest information on:

  • Conference Registration
  • Conference Agenda
  • Conference Sponsors
  • Lodging Information
  • Things to Do in Dickinson

Conference Details

Dates: September 10-12, 2024
Venue: Astoria Hotel and Event Center, Dickinson, ND

Focus Areas:

  • Connections with Canada and Mexico
  • Connections with Industries: Agriculture, Tourism, and Energy

Social and Networking Highlights

Tuesday, September 10:

  • Opening Reception: 5:30-7:00 pm at the Astoria Hotel and Event Center
    • Special appearance by Joe Wiegand portraying Theodore Roosevelt

Wednesday, September 11:

  • Breakfast and Welcome: 7:00-8:00 am, featuring Scott Decker, City of Dickinson Commission President
  • 9/11 Remembrance
  • Lunch and Keynote Address: 12:00-1:30 pm
  • Social and Dinner: 6:00-9:00 pm

Thursday, September 12:

  • Breakfast: 7:00-8:00 am
  • Lunch and Presentation: 12:00-1:00 pm at Medora Community Center
    • Presentation on the Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library construction
  • Afternoon Activities:
    • Visit the Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library construction site
    • Tour the Chateau de Mores
    • Explore Downtown Medora
  • Closing Social: 5:30 pm at Phat Fish Brewery in Dickinson

Travel Information

If you plan to fly into Dickinson, make your airline reservations as soon as possible due to limited flights.

Don't miss this opportunity to connect with industry leaders and explore the rich history and culture of North Dakota! For more details and to register, visit Ports to Plains Conference 2024.


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




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