Monday, Governor Greg Abbott signed Texas House Bill 1079, which directs Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) to conduct a comprehensive study of the Ports-to-Plains Corridor. The study must evaluate the feasibility of, and the costs and logistical matters associated with, improvements that create a four-lane divided highway, which meets interstate highway standards to the extent possible.
According to TxDOT, the corridor has been designated as a High Priority Corridor since 1998 and will facilitate the efficient transportation of goods and services from Mexico through West Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Colorado, and ultimately Canada and the Pacific Northwest.
Newly elected Big Spring City Councilwoman for District 4 Gloria McDonald, who’s also a Port-to-Plains Alliance Board Member representing Big Spring and Howard County, told KBest News that the extension of I-27 is very important to Big Spring.
"We would be the fifth city in the state of Texas to have two crossing interstates. When you have crossing interstates, industries look at you. It doesn't matter where you are," said McDonald.
She went on to advise that 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.
"If industries know there's four ways out of your city without having to go clogged, then they look at basing their companies, or at least their warehouses. So, that's what's good for Big Spring," continued McDonald.
According to the Port-to-Plains Alliance, the extension of I-27 would also improve on-time delivery and decrease transportation costs for goods and services.
To read more on the benefits of the I-27 extension, check out the statement from the Ports-to-Plains Alliance show below.
The I?27 extension would be a logical addition to the Interstate Highway System.
? It would have connectivity benefits. 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.
? It would have congestion relief benefits. 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.
? It would have economic development benefits. 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.
? It would have safety benefits. 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.
? It would benefit energy production. 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.
? It would benefit cross border trade. 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.