The Ports-to-Plains Alliance will be sending 2022 invoices for annual membership dues on December 10, 2021 to each organization’s primary contact. Your membership is important to continuing this work. Dues have not changed from previous years. Please contact Duffy Hinkle (firstname.lastname@example.org or at 806-790-7196) if you have questions.
In 2021, the Alliance has continued its state and federal advocacy efforts. With Jack Schenendorf, Covington and Burling, retiring, the role of David Pore and his team from Hance Scarborough has continued to represent the entire Alliance at the federal level. Cheri Huddleston, also of Hance Scarborough and her team, have continued efforts in Texas.
As described in the November, 2021 Newsletter, the language designating the Ports-to-Plains Corridor in Texas and New Mexico as a future interstate highway is currently included in the Transportation-Housing (T-HUD) Appropriations bill. It is hoped that Congress will approve the T-HUD bill as part of an “omnibus” Appropriations bill before the end of the year.
In its November Board of Directors meeting, the Alliance Board approved a budget which includes funding to hire an Executive Director in 2022.
In Texas, following the final report from the Ports-to-Plains Corridor Interstate Feasibility Study in late 2020, the advocacy efforts moved to legislation creating a long-term I-27 Advisory Committee. S.B. 1474 was signed into law by Texas Governor Greg Abbott on June 14, 2021 creating the I-27 Advisory Committee. The I-27 Advisory Committee began it operations on September 23, 2021 with a virtual meeting of the Mayors on the committee to identify and appoint the business representatives to serve on the committee. On October 14, 2021, the entire I-27 Advisory Committee met for the first time to organize and begin to set goals and objectives. The I-27 Advisory Committee will meet at least twice a year.
In New Mexico, the Eastern Plains Council of Governments completed the Ports-to-Plains Economic Impact Study funded by the New Mexico Department of Transportation. The Impact Study examined a segment of the international Ports-to-Plains Trade Corridor (U.S. Highway 87/64) in northeast New Mexico and the potential effects on local communities (Union County, Town of Clayton, Colfax County, City of Raton) of designating the route as an Interstate Highway. Much like the Texas Ports-to-Plains Corridor Interstate Feasibility Study, the New Mexico Ports-to-Plains Economic Impact Study highlighted the economic benefits of an interstate upgrade in terms of agriculture, energy, employment, tourism, and local and state economic development.
In Colorado, state and federal funding has been committed to add passing lanes to U.S. 287 between the Oklahoma/Colorado border and Limon, CO. The project, scheduled to be completed this month, provides $9.4 million to add passing lanes at 6 locations between Limon and the Colorado/Oklahoma border.
In Nebraska, the Nebraska DOT let the L62A North Project on U.S. 385 within the Heartland Expressway. The award was made to Scott Contracting Inc. at just under $32 million with construction beginning by July 1, 2021. The project funding includes an $18.3 million federal discretionary INFRA Grant. The project will connect the four-lane divided highway completed in 2018 from Alliance south. The next project on Heartland Expressway will be the U.S. 26 from Minatare to U.S. 385. NDOT has selected Alfred Benesch and Company as the design consultant.
In North Dakota, efforts to obtain funding to complete the four-lane highway from Watford City to the Long X Bridge, have continued. As described below, in this newsletter, the North Dakota State Legislature has committed American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARPA) funding to the North Dakota DOT.
The Ports-to-Plains Alliance launched its new website on April 6, 2021. The web address is unchanged: https://portstoplains.com/. The Alliance hopes that the results provide not only our membership but elected officials at the state and federal levels easier access to information they need to support our efforts. The Home Page provides the main menu, several bullet points on accomplishments and for blocks that will be updated with links to the latest information. The menu system is greatly simplified with the main menu showing About Us, Advocacy, Conference and Media.