Ports to Plains Alliance celebrates 20 year anniversary

Updated: Sep. 13, 2017 at 6:54 PM CDT
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LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) - It's been two decades since the discussion of expanding Interstate 27 from Mexico to Canada first started.

The Ports to Plains Alliance led the effort for expansion of the current transportation network.

Over the last 20 years, the Ports to Plains Alliance has raised over $2 billion for funding for road improvements in the region.

The committee says 58 percent of the proposed Ports to Plains highway currently has four lanes or more from Mexico to Canada. And, they say the I-27 corridor from Lubbock to Amarillo is one of the most important parts in this project.

"We are the breadbasket, we provide food, fiber and energy to the rest of the world," said Ports to Plains chairman, John Bertsch.

The expansion of I-27 to the north and south from Mexico to Canada, with a route right here in Lubbock, would help alleviate some of the truck traffic off of heavily-traveled, I-35.

"We truly believe we could take over 20 percent of the truck traffic off I-35 if we complete the corridor from Lubbock to Amarillo to Laredo," Bertsch said.

In Texas, only 12-15 percent of the population lives west of I-35. However, we produce 85 percent of the fiber, food and energy for the rest of the state, which is why this project is especially important from a West Texas standpoint.

"We need to be able to get our products to other markets. Our manufacturers need to be able to get products to other markets," Lubbock Mayor Dan Pope said.

The biggest achievement for the committee over the last two decades has been the improvements they have made to some of the roads in the Ports to Plains region, with most of that coming from the $2 billion that has been raised.

But there is still a lot to be done, with more funds needed. And, since the Trump administration has promised more infrastructure spending, Ports to Plains is seeking those funds in hopes to let those in Washington know that rural America is important.

"If we can't get food, fiber and energy to those folks then prices are rising and everything else so I-27 is a key to this connecting the interstate from east west to everyone else," Bertsch said.

For more information on the progress of Ports to Plains, visit their website, www.portstoplains.com.

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