October 2023  Volume 21  Issue 10


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.



This last month a had the opportunity to speak to the Dumas Lions Club at the invitation of board member Milton Pax.  When I walked up to the building, I was greeted by an Amarillo News reporter looking for a Ports-to-Plains update.  Milton was also interviewed and when asked why this corridor improvement was so important, his main answer was safety.  As I stood there and tried to sum up all the reasons that we have been preaching about why we want to improve this corridor, safety should and could be our number one reason. There are already too many deaths on our nation’s highways costing us billions of dollars not to mention the human toll and suffering that has residual effects for years to come. State DOTs are also committing billions of dollars toward investing in programs that target zero deaths on our highways.  We refer to these programs as the three Es (Education, Enforcement, Engineering). The education shows up in public service announcements targeting increased seat belt use and reducing impaired driving such as texting and driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol and drugs.  Enforcement campaigns include increasing fines for speeding, DUI and red light running.  Engineering is about improving the highways in a way to reduce the risk of incapacitating injuries, including deaths, by making the roads safer to drive upon.  The risks from the first two Es are influenced by human behavior.  That is why I think that the age of autonomous vehicles may be part of the solution to reducing accidents and deaths. The risks from the last E centers around the amount of investment being made to engineer a safer road.  How much are we willing to spend to make our roads safer?

This field of engineering sometimes struggles with putting a value on human life.  When someone asks you the difficult question about how many deaths on our highways are unacceptable you must always answer, "one."  Any number other than that and the follow-up question is always, "Which one of your family members are you willing to sacrifice for that statistic?"  That is the genesis of the mission zero safety campaigns.  Zero deaths on our highways.  To try to get to zero we make reasonable investments in safety improvements like widen roadways including shoulders, remove edge drop-offs, flatten front slopes (that area after the vehicle leaves the pavement), place barriers around fixed objects like trees, culvert headwalls, and bridge abutments.  All of these safety improvements reduce the probability and in some cases the severity of accidents.


We realize that our advocacy campaign for a four-lane divided, or interstate transportation corridor is not cheap.  But in terms of safety, zero deaths will not happen without this investment.  Now our engineering includes separating two-way traffic with adequate median clear zones, reducing conflict points with controlled access locations, reducing cross traffic incidents with elevated grade separations (Overpasses), and building multiple lanes to better manage traffic mix (vehicles and trucks). 


Finally, I want to share with you another added safety benefit of upgrading our corridor to a four-lane divided or better.  Last week I made a journey (and it was a journey) to South Dakota and North Dakota to speak at two events on Port-to-Plains.  As it turned out, due to a winter storm, my flight was diverted back to Denver.  Making plans on the fly (or without the fly), I chose to drive from Denver north for both events.  Every state DOT that has a winter maintenance program must make resource decisions to keep roadways safe and passable.  Usually, their roads are identified by tiers which means you have a better chance of seeing snow plows and salt spreaders on major highways like interstates than you will on the smaller road network.  I really, really could have used a four-lane divided highway from Belle Fourche to Dickinson.  I did not end up in the ditch, but I know someone who did.  Fortunately, they got out, but not everyone does. 


We can’t bubble wrap everyone and everything to protect our traveling public, but we can build safer roads if we are willing to commit the resources. Milton is right, it is all about safety.


More to come …

Lauren D. Garduño


Around Town | Lauren Garduño

Ports-to-Plains Alliance President/CEO October 20, 2023 interview on Texas Tech Public Media. 


Lauren discusses his West Texas experiences and how he became a civil engineer for the Texas Department of Transportation. 

He describes the significant role district engineers for TXDOT have in determining a community’s connectivity and his leadership efforts on the multi-state Ports-to-Plains initiative to bring better infrastructure to the High Plains and beyond. 


CLICK HERE for the Complete Podcast. 


IH 27 Advisory Committee Delivering Project Implementation 
Laredo District 


During the 2023 Ports-to-Plains Alliance Conference in September in Eagle Pass, Epigmenio “Epi” Gonzalez, P.E., Laredo District Engineer provided an update on project implementation including projects under construction, under development and funded, and under development but not funded on Future I-27 in the Laredo TxDOT District. 


He began with a profile of the Laredo District including population, area, TxDOT employees, lane miles, daily vehicle miles, registered vehicles, bridges – on and off system, and international border and railroad crossings. 

Projects currently under construction include I-35 UPRR Overpass, I-35/ I-69W Direct Connectors, U.S. 83 Reconstruction from Webb/Dimmitt County Line to I-35, and U.S. 277 Passing Lanes (Super-2’s) in Val Verde County, Maverick County, and between Eagle Pass & Carrizo Springs. See complete presentation below for additional information including construction cost and estimated completion date. Projects under construction total $257.5 million. 


Next, Mr. Gonzales outlined the Laredo TxDOT District Funded Projects Under Development. These projects total an estimated $474 million. These Funded Projects Under Development include I-35 at Uniroyal Interchange and SH 84, I-35 at I-69W, I-35 at U.S. 83 and UPRR Crossing, U.S. 83 Widening to 4-Lanes, SL 480 New 2-Lane Roadway, and U.S. 83 Reconstruction of Highway. See complete presentation below for estimated letting dates and additional descriptions of each project. 

Finally, District Director Gonzalez described over $3.4 billion of Unfunded Projects Under Development in the Laredo TxDOT District. These projects included two projects on U.S. 83 in Webb County, three projects on U.S. 83 and U.S. 277 in Dimmit County, four projects on U.S. 277 in Maverick County, one project on U.S. 277 in Kinney County, and five projects on U.S. 277 in Val Verde County. He also provided some early information on State Loop 79 in Val Verde County. 

While not on the Future I-27 Corridor, two projects were described that are important to our member communities: U.S. 57 between Eagle Pass and I-35 and U.S. 90 between Del Rio and I-35. 


CLICK HERE to view or download the complete presentation. 


Delivering Economic Corridors – Collaborative Pathways for Sustainable Growth & Development 

Looking north to Alberta Canada, MLA Shane Getson presented via Zoom on Delivering Economic Corridors. 


Getson was first elected as the Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA) for Lac Ste. Anne-Parkland on April 16, 2019 and was re-elected on May 29, 2023. Prior to serving in the Alberta Legislature, Mr. Getson was the owner of Major Projects Consulting Company, a civil engineering technologist and a private pilot. Mr. Getson previously served as the parliamentary secretary for Economic Corridors and now serves as the Government Whip. 


“The government of Alberta was given a mandate to Establish Corridors within Alberta, Canada, and into the USA that will be to the economic and strategic benefit of Albertans, that will enable diversified economic growth, and provide economic stability for several generations, determine the need, and opportunity for growth of our rail system within the province to facilitate economic growth and competitiveness addressing local needs, and mitigating shipping bottlenecks.” 

During the conference, the video embedded in the presentation did not work.  Delivering Economic Corridors Embedded Video is available below: 


CLICK HERE to view the video by MLA Getson. 


CLICK HERE to view or download the entire presentation.


I-27 Advisory Committee Meeting   

The next meeting of the I-27 Advisory Committee will be held in Austin on Thursday, November 9, 2023 from 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm CT. 


At the meeting, the Advisory Committee will receive updates on

  • Future interstate planning activities for the P2P System in Texas Implementation Strategy 
  • Future interstate planning activities for the I-14 System in Texas Implementation Strategy 
  • Funding overview of the 2024 UTPF 
  • Feedback on the Statewide Long-Range Transportation Plan – Connecting Texas 2050 
  • International Trade presentation, and  
  • Continuing development of the I-27 Advisory Committee Communication Toolkit 

The meeting will be held at the TxDOT Stassney Headquarters, 6230 E Stassney Lane, Austin TX.  There will be a Microsoft Teams virtual link available. The Ports-to-Plains Alliance urges Committee Members to attend in person. The meeting is open to the public.


Border Trade Advisory Committee Meeting (BTAC) will also be meeting on Thursday, November 9, 2023 at the Stassney location from 8:00 am to 12:00 pm CT. 


Connecting Texas: 2050 Fall Meetings 

TxDOT is conducting the second series of virtual and in-person public meetings from October to December 2023. All meeting materials including comment and engagement opportunities are the same for both virtual and in-person meetings. The virtual public meeting is available statewide to the public and the in-person open houses are being held in locations convenient to the 12 of TxDOT's 25 districts across the state that did not host an event in the first series earlier this year. 


During the current public meeting series, you can learn about the process to prepare a statewide long-range transportation plan and help TxDOT prioritize strategies for addressing the state’s transportation needs through 2050. Connecting Texas 2050 development kicked off in the fall 2022 and will continue through the spring 2024. 


How to Participate 


Virtual Meeting Materials 


CLICK HERE for Fall 2023 Virtual Public Meeting.



•    Public Survey
•    Connecting Texas 2050 Introduction Video
•    Overview and Plan Development Process
•    Corridors of Statewide Significance*
•    Submit Comments
•    Next Steps


In person Meetings along Ports-to-Plains Corridor 


Odessa  District  
November 2 
4:30 - 6 p.m.  
Sibley Nature Center 

Llano Room/Lobby 

1307 E. Wadley Ave. 

Midland, TX 79705 


San Angelo District 
November 9 

4:30 - 6 p.m.  

Concho Valley Transit 

Annex Building 

510 N. Chadbourne St. 

San Angelo, TX 76903 


Agriculture is a Key Economic Sector for the Ports-to-Plains Corridor Future Interstate 

Fact Sheet from I-27 Advisory Committee 

Add this to your website and files to help others understand the Value of the Future Interstate Highway. 


The Ports-to-Plains Corridor supports the largest cotton production in the country. 50% OF U.S. Cotton is Grown in The Ports-to-Plains Corridor in Texas. 

$11.0 billion Annual Sales from the Production and Export of Agricultural Products in the Ports-To-Plains Corridor 


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



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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