New Version of Ports-to-Plains Highway Bill Authored in Congress
After dying at the end of the 116th Congress, Congressmen Jodey Arrington (R- Lubbock) and Henry Cuellar (D- Laredo) have reintroduced legislation that would facilitate the large-scale expansion of Interstate 27 as part of the Ports-to-Plains Alliance Corridor. The "Ports-to-Plains Highway Act of 2021" is the name of the bill being submitted to the 117th Congress and it is being co-sponsored by four other Congressmen.
The proposed legislation would expand Interstate 27 into a four-lane divided highway. North of Amarillo, the IH-27 expansion would follow the current US 87, north to US 287, then continuing north to US 385, then going northwest following US 287 from Lamar to Limon (in Colorado), and continuing northwest to Interstate 76 in Colorado and finally west to Denver. IH-27 would be expanded south of Lubbock following US 87 to Texas State Highway 349 in Lamesa and then to Texas State Highway 158 south of Midland, then back to US 87 in Sterling City, continuing south to US 87 to San Angelo. IH-27's expansion would continue southward along US 277 to Eldorado, and then hit US 83 before merging with Interstate 35 north of Laredo.
IH-27 auxiliary routes are also planned using parts of US 87 in the northwest Texas Panhandle connecting to Interstate 25 in New Mexico and part of US 87 from Lamesa to Sterling City. Colorado State Highway 71 would also be upgraded from Limon to Brush.
If this bill is passed into law a projected increase to Texas Gross Domestic Product is $55.6 billion in the first 20 years.
“I’m very proud to be working across the aisle with my friend and colleague, Rep. Henry Cuellar, on this important piece of bipartisan legislation,” said Congressman Jodey Arrington. “Establishing a four lane, federal highway from West Texas through the Heartland is critical to enhancing America’s agriculture and energy dominance. This investment in rural America will strengthen the supply from the largest agricultural and energy production centers to the rest of the country.”
“To fully reap the benefits of the UMSCA, it is critical that we invest in strong international transportation infrastructure,” said Congressman Henry Cuellar. “This bipartisan legislation will increase trade routes for agriculture and energies industries in Texas, and throughout the country. With the I-27 corridor extension, Laredo will have three interstates, which will alleviate traffic and open business opportunities. As the representative for the country’s busiest port of entry, I am committed to making strong investments in our in transportation infrastructure to support cross-border trade and expand our economy.”
The original co-sponsors of the legislation are Congressman Ronny Jackson (TX-13), Congressman Tony Gonzales (TX-23), Congresswoman Kay Granger (TX-12) and Congressman Kelly Armstrong (North Dakota-At Large).
“A future interstate designation along the Ports-to-Plains Corridor is catalytic for the future of trade in the United States,” said John Osborne, Chairman of the Ports-to-Plains Alliance. “Not only will we increase the efficiency of transporting imports and exports to our primary trading partners but this project offers tremendous safety benefits for travelers, and a recent study by Texas Department of Transportation shows significant economic benefits for the nation, the state of Texas, and the communities along the corridor.”
The expansion of IH-27 is being touted as a "cost-effective way to reduce congestion on IH-25 and IH-35. "Once upgraded, a significant number of trucks are likely to divert to the Ports-to-Plains Corridor rather than sitting in congestion on I-25 or I-35, thereby providing congestion relief on these routes. Improved on time delivery and decreased transportation costs for goods and services will be the result."