Membership Renewal and 2021 Review | Infrastructure Bill Review

November 2021  Volume 19  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.


Member Dues Renewal and a Review of 2021

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 ( 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: 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.


Infrastructure Bill Brings New Transportation Funding to States

With the signing of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act by President Biden on November 15, 2021, each state across the country will see an increase in total funding from federal sources. Specifically for the nine states in the Ports-to-Plains Alliance region, this will be an increase of about 26 percent. The table below provides a state-by-state comparison of the Fast Act and the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.


Infrastructure Bill Freight Provisions

In addition to the appropriations to each state for transportation, the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) brings expanded freight provisions for the next five years (FY 2022-2026). The FAST Act was the first transportation reauthorization to identify freight funding including formula and discretionary. The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) expands the freight provisions.

National Highway Freight Program

Critical Rural Freight Corridors and Critical Urban Freight Corridors allow state departments of transportation to identify portions of the National Highway System as eligible for discretionary freight funding. Maximum number of highway miles a State may designate as critical rural freight corridors moves from 150 to 300 miles, and as critical urban freight corridors from 75 to 150 miles under IIJA. It also provides additional flexibility for lower population density States with a population per square mile of area that is less than the national average, based on the 2010 census, to designate as critical rural freight corridors a maximum of 600 miles of highway, or 25 percent of the primary highway freight system mileage in the State – whichever is greater.

The FAST Act provided $6.3 billion in formula funds over five years for States to invest in freight projects on the National Highway Freight Network. This increases to $7.15 billion in the IIJA.

Nationally Significant Multimodal Freight and Highway Program

Critical Rural and Freight Corridors are eligible for the Nationally Significant Multimodal Freight and Highway Program (NSMFHP) funding. Under the FAST Act, the NSMFHP was called the Nationally Significant Freight and Highway Projects (NSFHP) program (also known as the INFRA grant program). NSMFHP authorizes $6 billion from FY 2022-2026, a 33 percent increase from the FAST Act.
IIJA also increases the minimum amount (from 10 percent to 15 percent) that the Secretary shall reserve for small projects, as defined by NSMFHP, and requires that not less than 30 percent of funds reserved for small projects be used for certain projects in rural areas. This section also increases the Federal share allowable for small projects from 60 to 80 percent, and allows increased maximum Federal involvement for a State with a population density of not more than 80 persons per square mile.

All these estimates will be updated if needed as additional guidance comes from USDOT.

National Infrastructure Project Assistance

The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act would establish and authorize $10 billion over five years for the National Infrastructure Project Assistance Program. This program would provide single or multi-year grants to projects generating national or regional economic, mobility, or safety benefits for large and smaller-scale projects. Eligible projects include highway or bridge projects, freight intermodal or freight rail projects, railway-highway grade separation or elimination projects, intercity passenger rail projects, and certain public transportation projects.

Local and Regional Project Assistance Program

IIJA authorizes $1.5 billion a year for the Local and Regional Project Assistance Program (the RAISE/BUILD program) to provide grants for surface transportation projects that will have significant local or regional impacts. Eligible projects include highway or bridge projects, passenger or freight rail projects, port infrastructure projects, and surface transportation components of airport projects, among other surface transportation projects. The section would limit the size of each grant to $25 million and provide an equal split between rural and urban areas.


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



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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