Ports to Plains interstate plan

An ambitious interstate highway that would stretch from the Rio Grande Valley up to the Panhandle and through the Heartland of America once again is "on the map" for this congressional session.

Rep. Jodey Arrington (R-Lubbock) alongside Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Laredo) have re-introduced the "Ports-to-Plains Highway Act of 2021" to expand and upgrade I-27.

It would create a 4-lane federal highway from the south Texas border, where the second-largest port in the U.S. is, all the way to Canada.

It is estimated to produce more than $55 billion in economic development for the state.

"This will just foster more growth, more prosperity for rural communities in West Texas, and more trade, which means more jobs for Texans," Rep. Arrington said. 

"It's certainly where the majority of our food, fuel and fiber are produced. While its good for our rural economies, it's paramount to our food insecurity and energy independence," he added.

Lubbock Mayor Dan Pope has been a major supporter of the project, now more than a decade in the making.

"I think infrastructure is something we can all get behind. I think around the country there's investments that need to be made and I-27 would certainly be one of those opportunities," Mayor Pope said.

The bill was initially introduced in summer 2020.

"I'm confident it's going to pass the House cause it already has and it is bi-partisan, the democrats who supported it helped me get it through even on a purely partisan track," Arrington explained. "Once the Senate gets through with it and sends a bipartisan [bill], our chances, our probabilities to stay in the mix are greater than those that are starting from scratch," he added.

"We have one north-south interstate. 650 miles between Dallas and Denver, about the same distance between Laredo and Las Cruces, it's where I-25 goes north. So,  that's the difference between I-25 and I-35 we need another north-south interstate," Pope explained.

Not only is the project expected to benefit rural Texas but urban areas as well, as traffic would be diverted from I-35, increasing the safety on the roadways. 

You can read more about the Port-to-Plains Alliance, and its goals, here