Federal Update | State Infrastructure Investment Impact | Article from FreightWaves on I-27

November 2022  Volume 20  Issue 11


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.





In August of 2017 Hurricane Harvey dumped an unprecedented amount of rainfall on the Texas/Louisiana coast.  Following that event Texas leaders formed committees, held meetings, solicited input from engineers asking questions like what can be done to improve our infrastructure so that we can better withstand events like a Harvey hurricane.  Discussions centered on raising roadbeds, improving bridge structures, and build outs to interstate standards.  Flash forward to 2020.  Something called COVID strikes the world.  Labor forces are restricted.  Supply chains are disrupted.  Asian ships are stuck off the coast of California waiting their turn to dock and unload commodities in an already restricted environment.

Now I want you to consider this hypothetical situation.  Politics shuts down a major cross-country pipeline that would transport oil and gas products from Canada to the south, rail workers decide they need to strike for better labor conditions potentially shutting down the transport of food and fiber commodities, an extreme drought dries up the mighty Mississippi River restricting flow of commerce and goods.  Wait a second!  That is not a hypothetical! That is happening as I write this article.

I bring up all this for this reason.  One topic that has risen to the forefront lately is the idea of building out a climate resilient infrastructure network.  And while this includes several areas like design, construction, and maintenance, and also includes other areas besides transportation, I want to focus on our initiative.  Building out an interstate standard transportation highway from Laredo up to the midwestern United States will go a long way to securing a safe and effective mode to move people and goods throughout the country by reducing the risk that factors like climate, labor shortages, and supply chain disruptions create on our infrastructure network.  Yes, building out the interstate on the Ports-to-Plains corridor will greatly increase our GDP, reduce accidents, and save lives, but it also ensures that our cotton will have an alternate path to markets here and abroad, cattle and the related feedstock can continue to move north and south between Mexico and the United States without disruption.  We often take for granted the turkeys and steaks that show up on our holiday tables or back yard grills.  

Finally, when a major snowstorm blankets the Midwest and shuts down the movement of people and goods in places like Raton Pass, I know Denver would appreciate having an alternate path to keeping their commerce flowing to places that need their products too.  So, I hope you can see why we think this future interstate is a big deal. Thank you for supporting the Ports-to Plains-Alliance.  I wish for everyone to have a wonderful and safe holiday season.  More to come...

Lauren Garduño, President/CEO


I-27 Advisory Committee Moves Forward

On November 10, 2022, the Interstate 27 Advisory Committee, created by Texas Senate Bill 1474, held its third meeting in San Angelo, Texas. The meeting began with introducing new members, as elections changed the representation required by SB 1474.  Leading off is the Chair.  Dan Pope, as mayor of the City of Lubbock, was elected by the Committee as its chair during the first meeting on October 10, 2021.  Mayor Pope did not run for Mayor in 2022 so a new Chair needed to be elected by the Committee. San Angelo Mayor Brenda Gunter, the current Vice Chair, was elected to Chair the Committee. Next, since Mayor Gunter became the Chair, the Committee acted to elect Curtis Parrish, County Judge of Lubbock County as Vice Chair.

The Ports-to-Plains Alliance appreciates the hours of work and commitment demonstrated by Mayor Pope during both the Ports-to-Plains Corridor Interstate Feasibility Study and the I-27 Advisory Committee. He served as the Chair of the Ports-to-Plains Advisory Committee and then the I-27 Advisory Board.

Based on elections and job changes, four new members were introduced; Big Spring Mayor Robert Moore, Del Rio Mayor Al Arreola, Sr., Lubbock Mayor Tray Payne, and Lubbock Economic Development Alliance President and CEO John Osborne.


Debra Richmond of the Permian Strategic Partnership provided an Oil and Gas Industry presentation. Joining Agriculture and International Trade, energy is a key industry along the Corridor. Oil and gas activity in the Permian Basin contributes $153.2 billion to the U.S. GDP.

Ports-to-Plains Chairman John Osborne and Ports-to-Plains State Consultant, Cheri Huddleston visiting with Caroline Mays, Director of Planning and Modal Programs for Texas Department of Transportation during the Interstate 27 Advisory Committee Meeting. 


The Permian Promise is a Texas Transportation Commission sponsored program that was developed in the 2020 Unified Transportation Program by committing $600 million of strategic priority funding to help address the transportation needs throughout the Permian Basin. The goal of the Permian Promise is to identify roadway enhancements that reduce congestion and fatal crashes by improving existing corridors and identifying corridors in need of possible expansion.


The Advisory Committee then moved to review the latest version of its Goals and Objectives.  The Committee made a few wording changes, but generally the Goals are

  • Communicate the need to upgrade the Ports-to-Plains Corridor to an interstate facility for the safe, secure, and efficient alternative movement of goods and people, job creation, and economic opportunity.
  • Engage with the agricultural, energy, and international trade industries to broaden the understanding of the economic importance of completing the Ports-to- Plains Corridor to an interstate in Texas.
  • Facilitate the federal interstate designation of the Ports-to-Plains Corridor in Texas.
  • Encourage construction of the Ports-to-Plains Corridor in Texas to federal interstate standards.
  • Secure funding at the local, regional, state, and federal levels to complete the Ports-to-Plains Corridor as an interstate facility in Texas.

Developing a Communication Toolkit for Committee Outreach, including Agriculture, International Trade and Energy, was the next effort of the Committee. One highlight was the Ports-to-Plains Corridor Production in 2021 demonstrating the value of the Corridor Agriculture to Texas. See the graphic below.

Other Fact Sheets being considered include: Rural Connectivity, National Defense and Security, Interstate Designation Process, Economic Impact, Job Creation, and Freight.

Finally, the Committee heard I-27 a view from the International Trade Perspective. Note below that the U.S. – Mexico Merchandise Trade in 2021 totaled $661 billion with 69% of trade exchanged between the U.S. and Mexico is by Commercial Vehicles and that 82% of the trade between the U.S. and Mexico was handled by land ports of entry.

The full agenda and presentations are available by clicking the links.


The I-27 Advisory Committee meets at least two times per year. Information on past and upcoming meetings (when available) on the TxDOT website


Washington DC Fly-In


The Ports-to-Plains Alliance Board of Directors has determined it is time to get back to Washington DC in-person. The Alliance will hold its first in-person Washington DC Fly-in since 2019 on March 27-31, 2023. (Travel days on the 27 and 31.)  Mark your calendar and we will provide more information before the event.


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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