May 2021



Volume Number 19


Issue Number 5

Ports-to-Plains is excited to announce that SB1474 has passed in the Texas Legislature. This bill establishes the Ports-to-Plains Advisory Committee in regards to the potential extension of the interstate. A huge thank you to Senator Perry for sponsoring this bill as well as to Senators Roland Gutierrez and Kel Seliger, and Representative Four Price. Learn more about this bill and what is next for it in the article below. 

Plans on widening Highway 85 on the Theodore Roosevelt Expressway and other projects in North Dakota were described during a roundtable discussion by North Dakota's Department of Transportation executive director, Bill Panos. Mr. Panos discussed the importance of a good transportation system to the energy, agricultural, and tourism economy. See more on the roundtable discussion below that took place in Halliday, North Dakota on May 6, 2021. 

Ports-to-Plains continues to advocate for a federal interstate designation in Texas, New Mexico, Colorado, and Oklahoma and it's important for you to help us in this effort. Please tell your local, state, and federal officials the importance of this interstate to your community and region. We all know that economic development follows transportation and with the ever-increasing trade and traffic volume on the Ports-to-Plains Corridor, an interstate is also safer for everyone who travels on these highways. 

Thanks for your interest in the Ports-to-Plains Alliance and feel free to forward this newsletter to your friends and colleagues and ask them to subscribe! 

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.


 S.B. 1474 Approved by Texas Legislature

Senator Charles Perry (28th)

S.B. 1474 which establishes the I-27 Advisory Committee, is now awaiting approval by Governor Abbott.  S.B. 1474, sponsored by Senator Charles Perry (28th) with additional sponsors Senator Roland Gutierrez (19th), Senator Kel Seliger (31st), and Representative Four Price (87th) was approved by the Texas Legislature. S.B. 1474 passed the Texas Senate on Friday, April 23, 2021 and passed the Texas Senate on May 18, 2021.

The bill establishes the I-27 Advisory Committee to provide TxDOT with information on concerns and interests along the Ports-to-Plains Corridor in Texas and to advise TxDOT on transportation improvements impacting the Ports-to-Plains Corridor.

Members of the I-27 Advisory Committee, outlined in the bill, include ten county judges or their designee from the counties of Dallam, Howard, Lubbock, Midland, Moore, Potter, Sherman, Tom Green, Val Verde, and Webb. Further, the legislation identified seven mayors or designees from cities of Amarillo, Big Spring, Del Rio, Laredo, Lubbock, Midland, and Laredo. 

The mayors will meet prior to October 1, 2021 to appoint the remaining members of the I-27 Advisory Committee, including three members who are economic development professionals selected by the geographical segments identified in the H.B. 1079 Ports-to-Plains Interstate Feasibility Study, one member who is a business representative from the agriculture industry, one member who is a business representative from the international trade industry, and one member who is a business representative from the energy industry.

The committee will meet at a minimum of two times per state fiscal year, but may meet more often at the request of TxDOT or the advisory committee chair. All meetings of the committee, remote or in person will be open to the public. The first full meeting of the committee will be within thirty days of the appointment of the remaining members of the advisory committee.

The Ports-to-Plains Alliance appreciates the continued support from the bill’s sponsors and especially Senator Charles Perry and Representative Four Price.

Click Here for Text of S.B. 1474

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 DOT Director Touts Road Plans for TRE

Highway 85 Widening in the Works

Thanks to North Dakota Energy Association for content of this article.

Bill Panos, the director of the North Dakota Department of Transportation, described several projects planned for western North Dakota during an energy roundtable on May 6, 2021 in Halliday, ND.

DOT Director Bill Panos said the DOT's $1.6 billion budget for the 2021-23 biennium includes a loan guarantee to widen Highway 85 to four-lanes between Watford City and the Long X Bridge.

Panos opened his remarks to the county road managers and energy industry employees who attended the meeting by pointing out the importance of good transportation infrastructure to the state's economy. "You can't have an energy economy without a good transportation system," he said. "You can't have an agricultural economy without a good transportation system. You can't have a tourist economy without a good transportation system."

Panos noted that a $680 million bonding bill (HB 1431) contains significant infrastructure funding, including $70 million for the DOT, split between roads and bridges to match federal money that the state secures for construction projects. DOT's budget (SB 2012) includes $50 million in borrowing authority to four-lane 10.3 miles of Highway 85 south of Watford City.

The state is seeking a matching federal grant for the project, the total cost of which is estimated at just over $100 million. Panos said environmental work has been completed, and DOT is now doing engineering work and securing right of way for the project.

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Members of Congress Support Future Interstate Designation

On April 14, 2021, the U.S. House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure provided an opportunity for Members of Congress who are not on the committee to testify during a Member’s Day on policy priorities for the upcoming transportation reauthorization bill. The Ports-to-Plains Alliance appreciates the strong support provided in a letter submitted by seven members of Congress to the Committee.

Congressman Jodey Arrington (TX-19), testified during the Member Day hearing and presented the letter to the Committee leadership. The letter urged the “inclusion of H.R. 1608, The Ports-to-Plains Highway Act of 2021, in any surface transportation reauthorization legislation. This is an issue of great importance and value to the constituents of TX-19, TX-28, TX-11, TX-12, TX-13, TX-23, North Dakota, and rural Americans in the states in-between.

Further, the letter stated, “The nation's rural transportation network provides the first and last link in the supply chain from farm to market, while also driving tourism, enabling the production of energy, and supporting military movements. The four-state designation language contained in H.R. 1608 would not only improve the resilience of our supply chain, but also spur economic growth for underserved communities, both of which are priorities within President Biden's infrastructure plan.”

Members of Congress who signed the letter are Jodey Arrington (TX-19), Henry Cuellar (TX-28), Kay Granger (TX-12), August Pfluger (TX-11), Kelly Armstrong (ND-AL), Ronny L. Jackson (TX-13), and Tony Gonzales (TX-23). The support of members of Congress is critical to meeting our goal of designation as a future interstate highway for the four-state region.

(Click on letter below to enlarge or print)

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Check out the newest Ports-to-Plains Video!

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Ports-to-Plains Alliance Staff

Duffy Hinkle

Vice President of Membership & Marketing
PO Box 16226
Lubbock, TX 79490
P: 806-790-7196

Joe Kiely
Vice President of Operations
PO Box 758
Limon, CO 80828
P: 719-740-2240

Cal Klewin
Executive Director
Theodore Roosevelt Expressway
PO Box 1306
22 E Broadway
Williston, ND 58802
P: 701-523-6171

Deb Cottier
Heartland Expressway Association
337 Main Street
Chadron, NE 69337
P: 308-432-4023