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Governor Abbott signs Port-to-Plains Corridor study

Port-to-Plains Corridor
On Monday, June 10, 2019, Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed Texas House Bill 1079 which will allow the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) to conduct a comprehensive study of the Port-to-Plains Corridor.

The study will include the feasibility, and the associated costs, of widening and extending Interstate 27 north to the Texas-Oklahoma border, and south to Laredo.

Lubbock mayor Dan Pope says this action will further bolster planning efforts set forth years ago.

“For decades, Lubbock city leaders planned for the continued growth in and around Lubbock,” says Mayor Pope. “They recognized the importance of improving local infrastructure and championed for proactive transportation projects like the Marsha Sharp Freeway, and Loop 88. The extension of I-27 remains a top priority of our city and will continue that legacy. Governor Abbott signing HB 1079 is a critical step in preparing for the area’s future needs, and I applaud the West Texas delegation in Austin that supported this measure through the legislative process.”

Amarillo mayor Ginger Nelson has not commented on the signing of this legislation.

The I-27 extension would be a logical addition to the Interstate Highway System.

The I-27 extension would provide the only major north-south corridor in Texas west of I-35, and it would intersect three major east-west Interstate routes: I-10, I-20, and I-40.  It would serve three international border crossings: Del Rio, Eagle Pass, and Laredo.  It would connect major West Texas population and economic centers, including Amarillo, Lubbock, Big Spring, Midland-Odessa, and San Angelo, in addition to numerous smaller communities.  It is critical to linking the energy and agricultural sectors to state, national, and international trade.

More than 2.3 million trucks passed through Laredo in 2018, more than through any other land port of entry by far (Detroit was next largest at 1.5 million).  Many of these trucks head north on I-35 toward San Antonio, Austin, Dallas and Fort Worth, making I-35 one of the Nation’s most congested Interstates.  The I-27 extension would provide an alternative north-south Interstate route, thereby helping to relieve congestion by diverting traffic off I-35 at Laredo.  Results would be improved on-time delivery and decreased transportation costs for goods and services.  Moreover, the $5.2 billion price tag for the 500-mile extension is cost effective when compared to the $4.8 billion cost of rebuilding just a 28-mile section of I-35 from I-635 to U.S. 380 in Dallas County.

A future Interstate designation would be a significant new economic development tool for communities along the corridor.  Site selectors for manufacturers, warehousing and distribution recommend sites along an interstate highway and travel services businesses such as hotels, truck stops, convenience stores and restaurants, which can have a dramatic impact on small communities will also expand.  This will create much needed new jobs and expanded tax base in rural West Texas.

Travel on the nation's Interstate Highways is about twice as safe as travel on all other roadways.  Given the large energy-related and agriculture-related trucks using this corridor, and the mix of personal, tourist, and truck traffic, safety will be greatly improved by the extension of I-27.  Fatalities and injuries will be reduced.

It would have national defense and national security benefits. About 300 miles, or 60 percent, of the extension is on the Strategic Highway Network (STRAHNET), which are the roads that provide defense access, continuity, and emergency capabilities for movements of personnel and equipment in both peace and war.

The extension of Interstate 27 between Lubbock and Laredo will provide direct access into the heart of the oil and gas industry. This direct access will allow for more production and distribution of these resources. This extension is a crucial component as Texas leads the country in energy independence.

A future interstate designation would lead to improved cross border efficiency at the border crossings of Del Rio, Eagle Pass and Laredo. It would encourage more efficient use of all three crossings reducing wait time on congested international bridges.

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