March 2024  Volume 22  Issue 3


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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This month I had an opportunity to give an update to Lubbock County and the City of Lubbock in a joint meeting.  One of the questions I received from a city councilwoman was concerning our public outreach.  In particular, she wanted to know if we were reaching all of the audiences that need to be reached and that were also going to be impacted by the build out of the future interstate.  I will tell you that I did not answer her question very well.  I was trying to focus on the positive impacts that a future interstate will bring to our communities, and I think she was more concerned with the displacement impacts that occur when you build a new interstate through our communities.  

I would like another shot at answering her question.  Anytime there is a significant build out of any transportation project like an interstate in the United States, a rather extensive public involvement phase must occur.  This public involvement activity, while not obligated by law, requires agencies to provide meaningful opportunities for public participation, especially when working through environmental clearance through the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA)of 1970.   When our first interstates were built in the 60’s and 70’s, public involvement was not always adequately addressed. Highways were built through communities without taking full consideration of the impacts in depressed and underrepresented communities.  A new feature in NEPA today is a term referred to as environmental justice where transportation improvement projects that are being upgraded through historically underrepresented and depressed communities must consider and mitigate the negative impact of the transportation improvement.  I have said all this hopefully to show that before any interstate upgrade can occur through any of our communities, a very extensive public involvement process will take place.  This includes our communities in New Mexico like Capulin, Des Moines, and Grenville.  You will have a say on how this corridor will work for you.  

I would like to dedicate the rest of this article to update you on our recent trip to Washington DC for our annual fly-in.  I wrote down what I thought were three value adds for making this trek every year. One, strengthen our relationships with our congressional delegations all up and down the corridor.  Sometimes this includes making our delegates aware of our advocacy efforts and what we are trying to accomplish by building out this transportation corridor through the Midwestern United States. We sent representatives from six of our P2P states and visited with either congressional delegates or their staff from all eight states along our corridor.  I want to thank our Hance Scarborough Team under David Pore’s leadership for helping facilitate these meetings.  We were also fortunate to have a delegation from Midland and Del Rio, Texas join us for some of our visits.  The strength of having diversity in our group reflects positively when visiting with the various states.  Interesting enough, while we were in DC, we were witness to a 2024 mini-appropriations bill passing which included $29.165 million in funding requests on our corridor including $12.865 million secured by Senator Deb Fischer for the Heartland Expressway in Nebraska.  Also, that week our Interstate Numbering Act sponsored by our Texas and New Mexico congressional delegations passed in the Senate and was later signed by President Biden.  Two, strengthen our relationships with the Federal Agencies that we will be interacting with to deliver our future transportation corridor. That always includes the Federal Highway Administration. Our discussions, of course, included feedback on all the discretionary programs that are under FHWA direction including potential grants programs that fit our corridor.  But this year we were able to sit down with the United States Department of Agriculture and discuss potential programs that will help us move agriculture products to final destinations.  This included USDA’s role in agriculture inspection stations at our border crossings.  On future trips we will schedule meetings with Department of Defense, Homeland Security, and the Bureau of Indian Affairs. Three, strengthen our relationships within our Ports-to-Plains Alliance. In addition to the Del Rio and Midland delegation joining us, we also had new representatives from Colorado and South Dakota on this trip.  Opportunities to collaborate with team members, build synergy, and focus on our mission while at the same time energize us when we go back to our respective states.  Next year we would love to see our number grow, as that too sends a positive message to our congressional delegates.  Especially since there are always groups visiting the Capital; we want them to remember us.

more to come …


Lauren D. Garduño


I-27 Numbering Act of 2023 (S.992) Passes Final Action in U.S. Senate Allocating an Official Name to the Ports-to-Plains Corridor

In a historic move, the I-27 Numbering Act of 2023 (S.992) has successfully achieved unanimous consent in the U.S. Senate, marking the final legislative step towards solidifying an official name for the critically significant Ports-to-Plains Corridor. The bill's journey saw unanimous approval in both chambers, with the U.S. House of Representatives endorsing amended language, now ready for the President's signature.

In the U.S. Senate, initiated and steered by U.S. Senator Ted Cruz, the I-27 Numbering Act of 2023 received resounding support from co-sponsors including Senators John Cornyn, Martin Heinrich, and Ben Ray Luján. In the U.S. House of Representatives, a coalition led by Representatives Jodey Arrington and Henry Cuellar included Representatives August Pfluger, Ronny Jackson, Teresa Leger-Fernandez, Troy Nehls, and Lance Gooden, propelled the legislation forward.

John Osborne, Chairman of the Ports-to-Plains Alliance, expressed his elation at the bipartisan backing from both chambers, remarking, "The approval of route numbering for I-27 in Texas and New Mexico signifies a monumental step. This corridor unites the nation's and Texas' strategic economic engines of agriculture production, energy, and international trade, supporting burgeoning population centers in West and South Texas."

The I-27 Numbering Act (S.992) delineates the route numbers for the future interstate highway, encompassing a vast expanse spanning Texas and into New Mexico. The allocated numbers for specific sections will facilitate streamlined navigation and development:

  • 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

Lauren Garduño, President/CEO of the Ports-to-Plains Alliance, highlighted the legislation's pivotal role in propelling the Ports-to-Plains corridor towards interstate standards. "This numbering legislation championed by Congressman Arrington is critical for the corridor's evolution to interstate standards," stated Garduño. "It unlocks funding avenues and will facilitate the incorporation of interstate signage as our corridor advances."

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

Texas U.S. Ted Cruz introduces I-27 Numbering Act

Texas U.S. Senator John Cornyn Comments on I-27 Numbering Act


FY24 Mini-Appropriations Bill Brings $29.165 Million to Ports-to-Plains Alliance Projects

The recent passage of the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2024 (H.R. 4366) marks another significant milestone for the Ports-to-Plains Alliance corridor. This legislation, which cleared the U.S. Senate on Friday, March 8, 2024, and the U.S. House on Wednesday, March 6, 2024, was signed into law by President Biden on Saturday, March 9, 2024.

Among the notable provisions of the bill are allocations totaling $29.165 million for four community projects benefitting the Ports-to-Plains Alliance corridor. These projects were championed by various U.S. House members and Senators, reflecting a bipartisan commitment to infrastructure development.

Congressman Ronny Jackson (TX-13) secured funding for two critical projects:

  • US 287 Interstate Design, Amarillo to Dumas: $2 million
  • State Loop 335 Widen Non-Freeway, Amarillo, Texas: $2.2 million

Congressman Jodey Arrington (TX-19) successfully advocated for:

  • Interstate Planning: U.S. 87 from Lubbock to Tahoka: $8 million

Congressman August Pfluger (TX-11) secured funding for:

  • US 277—Operational Improvements in San Angelo: $2.5 million

Additionally, two projects received funding through the U.S. Senate:

  • Ports-to-Plains Corridor Interstate Planning (New Mexico): $1.6 million, championed by Senators Martin Heinrich and Ben Ray Luján
  • Heartland Expressway Improvements (Nebraska): $12.865 million, secured by Senator Deb Fischer

The total appropriations of $29.165 million, combined with the FY23 appropriations of $11.85 million, provide state Departments of Transportation (DOTs) with substantial funding to advance critical infrastructure projects. Notably, this funding does not rely on formula distribution, ensuring targeted investment in key transportation initiatives.

“As a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, I have the opportunity to directly advocate for federal resources that deliver for working families in New Mexico — and that’s exactly what this legislation does,” said Senator Martin Heinrich of New Mexico. “Today, I was proud to vote for this first package of appropriations bills that will deliver critical investments to every corner in New Mexico, addressing our community needs,” said Senator Ben Ray Luján of New Mexico.

“The Heartland Expressway Association is grateful to US Senator Deb Fischer for securing $12.8 million in the FY 2024 budget for work on the current construction phase of the Heartland Expressway between Minatare NE and US Highway 385 junction east of Scottsbluff. This critical piece of funding will assure the creation of another 18 miles of 4-lane divided highway in western Nebraska”, said Deb Cottier, Board Chair from Chadron, NE. “Senator Fischer has been a long-time supporter of roads in Nebraska, especially the Heartland Expressway which is an expansion of the original state expressway system begun when Senator Fischer was in the Nebraska Legislature. She has made good on her promise to help and kept the funding alive until Congress could act on the transportation portion of the budget,” she said. 

The FY24 appropriations represent a significant investment in the future of transportation infrastructure along the Ports-to-Plains Alliance corridor, fostering economic growth and connectivity across the region.


Crossing borders, connecting economies: Port Laredo’s rise as America’s top trade Gateway

This article was written by Dr. Daniel Covarrubias and first appeared in the Laredo Morning Times.


Dr. Daniel Covarrubias is the Director of Texas A&M International University’s A.R. Sanchez, Jr. School of Business’ Texas Center for Economic and Enterprise Development.


Port Laredo, strategically nestled at the heart of the U.S.- Mexico border, is the most important U.S. port of entry and a
key hub facilitating North American trade.


Port Laredo’s infrastructure to process its impressive volume of cross-border exchanges includes expansive truck lots and rail yards, state-of-the-art technological equipment for inspecting rail and truck cargo, and U.S. and Mexican customs facilities, including the Colombia Solidarity Bridge, a railway international bridge, and the World Trade Bridge, which alone handles nearly 40% of all U.S.-Mexico cross-border trade.

In 2023, this booming land port of entry overtook Chicago O’Hare airport and the seaport of Los Angeles to become the United States’ number one port of entry by total trade, underscoring its critical importance to U.S.-Mexico trade relations and the broader North American economy...


Link to Complete Article


Expansion of Highway 85 continues as Ports-to-Plains Alliance meets with Congress


Rep. Kelly Armstrong, R-ND, says by having the alliance cover several states, it strengthens their cause in earning congressional support.

“That’s how you work to get things done up here. When you’re not doing it for just North Dakota or just South Dakota, you get a broad spectrum of members that approve it. But again, even with infrastructure funding, we have to figure out where we are paying for this stuff,” said Armstrong.

Sen. Kevin Cramer, R-ND, says the proposed system can provide plenty of economic opportunities.
“It’s also a really important trade corridor that moves products from border to border throughout the North American continent. That has all kinds of economic ramifications to it,” said Cramer.



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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