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Author Topic: Ports-to-Plains Corridor update  (Read 30739 times)

txstateends

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Ports-to-Plains Corridor update
« on: October 23, 2014, 10:06:49 AM »

http://www.newschannel10.com/story/26869232/ports-to-plains-expansion-construction-headed-to-the-panhandle
http://d31hzlhk6di2h5.cloudfront.net/20141020/c4/d0/7c/d8/2173eac43a3e8c2ce61642a5/ports_to_plains_projects_100214.pdf

$900 million is going to 59 different projects in TX, not including anything on the scale of extending I-27 north or south, but it's something.  The .pdf lists several of them, which are centered on the Panhandle.
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Bobby5280

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Re: Ports-to-Plains Corridor update
« Reply #1 on: October 23, 2014, 04:00:22 PM »

It's a little encouraging to see plans are in the works to re-build Loop 335 around part of Amarillo as a freeway. However, that Southwest quadrant will have to be extended farther north and eventually wrap back into US-87/US-287 on the North side of town.

It's too bad there's not a practical way to build a freeway through downtown Amarillo. Those stop lights are kind of a pain, but at least they're timed reasonably well. Long term, Loop 335 needs to be upgraded to a freeway completely around Amarillo. I see only a limited amount of traffic (mostly local traffic) using the freeway section of Loop 335 they have planned. There is a lot of traffic, truck traffic in particular, entering the Ports to Plains corridor from US-287 on Amarillo's East side. That's everything coming up from Dallas, Houston and other points in the Deep South. None of that will go to that new SW side freeway. The traffic either goes on the NE quadrant of Loop 335 or it goes through downtown.

If you're on a road trip and heading somewhere, such as Colorado Springs or Denver, and you want to stop and eat, fill up, etc. in Amarillo there's very little in the way of choices along the NE quadrant of Loop 335. That's what gets a lot of US-287 traffic onto I-40 for those services and then going right through the middle of downtown and all those stop lights to get to the highway on the North side of town.

If the oil boom keeps sustaining itself out there in West Texas and New Mexico I can see those construction plans getting revised with further upgrades.
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Re: Ports-to-Plains Corridor update
« Reply #2 on: October 23, 2014, 05:04:03 PM »

It's a little encouraging to see plans are in the works to re-build Loop 335 around part of Amarillo as a freeway.
Well, according to the legend, that segment isn't funded yet.  Based on the traffic backups I've experienced on the west side of 335 at I-40, I suspect any proposed upgrades to that southwest quadrant are intended for the benefit of local drivers as much as for through traffic.  That's the quadrant of Amarillo that's seeing the most growth.

There is a lot of traffic, truck traffic in particular, entering the Ports to Plains corridor from US-287 on Amarillo's East side. That's everything coming up from Dallas, Houston and other points in the Deep South. None of that will go to that new SW side freeway. The traffic either goes on the NE quadrant of Loop 335 or it goes through downtown.
I agree, the NE quadrant is probably the most heavily-used segment of 335 in terms of through traffic.  But that's a slightly different issue, because these projects are specifically geared towards the P2P Corridor, which comes up from the south via I-27.  That traffic wouldn't use the east side of the loop; it either goes through downtown (which I prefer), or else uses the west side of the loop (which I avoid).
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Henry

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Re: Ports-to-Plains Corridor update
« Reply #3 on: October 24, 2014, 01:06:23 PM »

While I agree that Loop 335 should be rebuilt as a freeway (one that can possibly become an I-x40 route), there's the dilemma of what to do with I-27 is it were to extend further north. You can't go through downtown without tunneling under, and that would be very expensive if undertaken, so the best thing to do is reroute it onto the rebuilt freeway loop and use that to get back to US 287 north of town. But other than that, it's good to hear that the project, however ambitious it may be, is moving forward.
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Bobby5280

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Re: Ports-to-Plains Corridor update
« Reply #4 on: October 24, 2014, 02:12:24 PM »

It just isn't feasible to extend I-27 through the middle of downtown Amarillo. Tunneling under downtown would just be too expensive. It's possible to have the two directions of I-27 split apart and elevated over Pierce and Fillmore streets through much of downtown. But that would at least be an eye sore, if not prohibitively expensive.

The Southern terminus of I-44 was re-built as an elevated freeway over part of downtown Wichita Falls, but that overpass runs for only 7 blocks and it isn't in the primary part of the downtown the way US-87 cuts through downtown Amarillo.

Nevertheless, it is a serious problem for I-27 traffic headed north to be pounding over downtown Amarillo streets. If I-27 is extended North it's going to have to be looped around either the East or West side of Amarillo. Either way, Loop 335 needs to be a freeway completely around Amarillo. Right now it's just a cheaper mix of 2-lane and 4-lane road with limited access "exits" at some intersections.

At the very least Amarillo's city government and TXDOT needs to acquire all the ROW needed in order to convert Loop 335 into a fully limited access facility. It's going to become more important as the population of Texas and other cities in the West continue to grow. I can still see a strong case for converting US-287 between Amarillo and Fort Worth into an Interstate (the "I-32" concept).
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Re: Ports-to-Plains Corridor update
« Reply #5 on: October 28, 2014, 07:12:05 PM »

This Oct. 22 article reports that Lubbock's's Mayor plans to meet with TxDOT commissioners in November to begin the process of designating the corridor from I-25 in Texico, NM to I-35 and I-69 in Laredo as Future I-27:

Quote
Lubbock Mayor Glen Robertson says he will meet with TxDOT officials in Austin next month to begin the process of extending Interstate 27.
“I went to the Ports-to-Plains conference in Del Rio about two weeks ago and met with a lot of people along the route, a lot of interested parties, mayors, county judges and I received positive responses,” Mayor Robertson  said. “The plan now is I will go in and speak to TxDOT commissioners in November, during their November meeting in Austin, and I'm going to ask them for their blessing to form an I-27 extension coalition. When that happens, and we anticipate approval, the plan would be then to hold three or four meetings along the proposed route which would be from Texico all the way down to Laredo.”
Mayor Robertson says it will still be a while before people notice any changes, but it is important to get designation early.
“I'll meet with the TxDOT commissioners hopefully in November, I'll start holding meetings in January and February along the proposed route, hopefully we'll have the committee in place by March and I think it will take a year or two years maximum to try and get designation and that's to get designation along the route as future I-27,” he said. “From that point you're looking at 20 to 30 to 50 years depending on which portions of the route you're talking about, so this is a very long term process and it's a very ambitious program.” ....
“We're really looking at, like I say, going from Texico to Laredo. Texico would get us right across from New Mexico I-25, so we could tie in I-25 there, I-40 in Amarillo, I-20 at Midland Odessa and Big Spring, I-10 at Sonora and then down in Laredo you would tie into I-35 and the future I-69.

Here is a photo from the article showing the route:

« Last Edit: October 28, 2014, 07:18:02 PM by Grzrd »
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NE2

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Re: Ports-to-Plains Corridor update
« Reply #6 on: October 28, 2014, 07:53:14 PM »

Here is a photo from the article showing the route:


Looks like the Goog's preferred route between the two, which is NOT the Ports-to-Plains.
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Re: Ports-to-Plains Corridor update
« Reply #7 on: October 29, 2014, 07:27:42 AM »

Texico isn't on I-25, or Port-to-Plains.

And what about the existing I-27 from Lubbock to Amarillo?
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Re: Ports-to-Plains Corridor update
« Reply #8 on: October 29, 2014, 08:21:28 AM »

Texico isn't on [...] Port-to-Plains.
Lubbock and Laredo are, however. But the P2P is west of the corridor shown. I think they just plugged the endpoints into the Goog and assumed the porky route was the best route. I don't know why Lubbock cares about Texico anyway.
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Re: Ports-to-Plains Corridor update
« Reply #9 on: October 29, 2014, 08:56:06 AM »

This Oct. 22 article:
Quote
Lubbock Mayor Glen Robertson says he will meet with TxDOT officials in Austin next month to begin the process of extending Interstate 27. ....“We're really looking at, like I say, going from Texico to Laredo. Texico would get us right across from New Mexico I-25, so we could tie in I-25 there, I-40 in Amarillo, I-20 at Midland Odessa and Big Spring, I-10 at Sonora and then down in Laredo you would tie into I-35 and the future I-69.
Texico isn't on I-25, or Port-to-Plains.
And what about the existing I-27 from Lubbock to Amarillo?

Another article quotes Robertson, who also serves as Ports-to-Plains treasurer, as envisioning the I-27 extension going "up north through Dalhart", which would make sense as both going through Amarillo and providing a US 87 routing to I-25 near Raton (no mention of Texico in this article, though*):

Quote
Even as Lubbock Mayor Glen Robertson announces an effort to extend Interstate 27 to both the north and south, almost a billion dollars in upgrades are currently in the pipeline on just the Texas portion of the Ports-to-Plains Corridor.
Representatives from the Texas Department of Transportation announced at the recent 17th Annual Ports-to-Plains Alliance Conference in Del Rio that it is working on more than $900 million in projects along the trade route ....
Alliance officials note that since the mid-1990s, their group has been successfully working with local, state and federal officials to expand the existing roadways both north and south of I-27, which runs between Lubbock and Amarillo. The alliance represents more than 250 organizations across a 3,700-mile economic development corridor from Mazatlan in Mexico through nine U.S. states to Fort McMurray in Canada.
Alliance partners include the Heartland Expressway Association, Theodore Roosevelt Expressway Association and Eastern Alberta Trade Corridor.
Robertson, who serves as Ports-to-Plains treasurer, late last week told several Lubbock media outlets that he already has met with TxDOT officials urging them to consider extending I-27, which currently covers about 120 miles from Amarillo through Lubbock. He also hopes to bring officials from communities along I-27 together to formally ask TxDOT to conduct a feasibility study on extending I-27.
"Hopefully in 40 to 50 years, we see it going from Lubbock down to Del Rio and down into Laredo and then on up north through Dalhart and kicking all the way up into Denver,” Robertson told KCBD ....
More than half of the 59 current and planned TxDOT projects along the Ports to Plains Corridor involve work on either I-27, US 87 or US 287.

edit

*
Maybe Robertson got ahead of himself by envisioning an I-27W in the earlier article.  :spin:



Looks like the Goog's preferred route between the two, which is NOT the Ports-to-Plains.

Here's a snip of a different map accompanying the above-linked article:

« Last Edit: October 29, 2014, 11:50:48 AM by Grzrd »
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NE2

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Re: Ports-to-Plains Corridor update
« Reply #10 on: October 29, 2014, 09:07:59 AM »

That's just something pulled from the P2P site. But it's probably more correct in showing the corridor discussed than the Googjob.
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Re: Ports-to-Plains Corridor update
« Reply #11 on: October 29, 2014, 12:43:54 PM »

I-27 could definitely use an extension in both directions, but especially to the south. Amarillo to Lubbock is too short for a 2di these days.
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Re: Ports-to-Plains Corridor update
« Reply #12 on: October 30, 2014, 02:49:49 PM »

I-27 is going to have to take a number and wait in line behind I-69, I-35, and all of the many projects in DFW, Houston, and Austin.
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I-27 south
« Reply #13 on: November 01, 2014, 08:51:25 PM »

It should have been done years, if not decades ago.   The obsolescence, and pounding of surface infrastructure clearly evident in the Hobbs / Midland / Odessa areas clearly illustrate the deficiencies of TXDOT planning. 
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Re: Ports-to-Plains Corridor update
« Reply #14 on: November 03, 2014, 12:43:02 AM »

Given the funding limitations, if TX DOT wants to extend I-27 to the North or South, perhaps having it cover much of the Ports to Plains Corridor, they ought to be working on corridor preservation. They've done it to some degree with US-287 between Amarillo and Fort Worth. That road wouldn't be very difficult to upgrade into an Interstate highway since most of the ROW needed is already preserved in the US-287 ROW (a very large median in many areas).

I think I-27 might have been extended to the South a long time ago if traffic and political will wasn't split between various areas. From Lubbock to the South where would it be most fair to extend I-27?

My own personal preference is Big Spring, then San Angelo and Junction (where I-27 would hook into I-10). That would create a logical, fairly direct Interstate corridor between Amarillo and Lubbock down to San Antonio and the port of Corpus Christi. A Northern extension of I-27 from Amarillo could eventually establish a San Antonio to Denver link by way of I-10, I-27 and I-70.

Others might prefer a Southern extension of I-27 to swing West to Midland or even farther West to Odessa and then maybe hook back around toward Del Rio and the Mexican border. I don't think that would be nearly as useful. But who knows? I heard the Mexican government is going to allow foreign investment in its oil production (since its own state-run oil industry has very outdated, counter productive infrastructure). That might increase the need to improve roads between both countries.

The oil industry goes in boom and bust cycles. Right now it's booming, but it can go bust like the last time it did back in the early 1980's. It takes years of planning to develop an Interstate highway corridor. I think it would be silly to build one in reaction to big rig traffic needs in certain oil producing areas that might see the traffic levels evaporate before the road is finished. Any new Interstate should serve the overall road network's functions rather than catering to a niche need in a certain specific area.
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Re: Ports-to-Plains Corridor update
« Reply #15 on: November 09, 2014, 05:29:13 PM »

From what I remember of my days around the road construction trade, the I-27 Ports to Plains highway was originally supposed to run from Houston to Lubbock. This would have been late 60s - early 70s time frame. I do remember hearing much speculation as to the exact routing but I don't think one was ever designated. After the '73-'74 oil embargo it looked like the project was scrubbed due to lack of funding. This current proposal appears to be a different creature altogether.   
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Re: Ports-to-Plains Corridor update
« Reply #16 on: November 12, 2014, 11:31:57 PM »

Speaking of Loop 335 and the recent passage of Texas Prop 1, there's a thought that some of the Prop 1 funds could help continuing to convert Loop 335 into freeway standards:

http://amarillo.com/news/local-news/2014-11-03/prop-1-ballot-could-affect-status-loop-335-changes

Quote
“We only have one project right now that would benefit from Prop. 1. That would be a new railroad bridge (at the BNSF Railway) that would hook onto the project on Loop 335 we started today,” said TxDOT Amarillo District spokesman Paul Braun on Monday.

The work that has begun will turn what is also called Hollywood Road into a freeway with exit and entrance ramps, and bridges over major intersections from just east of Interstate 27 to the railroad tracks.

Making Loop 335 a true freeway loop all the way around the city could cost as much as $530 million to make it adequate to handle traffic counts expected in 20 years, according to a TxDOT analysis. Just moving the loop west out of the South Soncy Road corridor to reduce congestion could take $136 million.
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Grzrd

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Re: Ports-to-Plains Corridor update
« Reply #17 on: November 20, 2014, 07:57:26 PM »

This Oct. 22 article reports that Lubbock's's Mayor plans to meet with TxDOT commissioners in November to begin the process of designating the corridor ... as Future I-27

The Texas Transportation Commission has posted the November 20 I-27 Corridor Extension Study Presentation that was presented to the Commission.  Here's a snip of a map of the corridor from the presentation (page 6/8 of pdf):



It's difficult to see in the snip, but the map does include an I-69W shield in Laredo.
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Re: Ports-to-Plains Corridor update
« Reply #18 on: December 09, 2014, 02:09:00 PM »

I-27 should serve Odessa / Midland.  That area is probably close to 300,000 population presently.   Depending on whom argues with the fracking industry may be around for a long time.  Either by way of a direct connection within the metro area or via means of an I-227 (both or each are shown on map)   
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Re: Ports-to-Plains Corridor update
« Reply #19 on: December 09, 2014, 02:49:31 PM »

2030 AADT on SH 349 between Midland and Lamesa is only expected to hit 4500 on the least-used section. Even 4 laning would be a bit of a waste if those numbers hold. Alternating passing lanes would be sufficient. A full-on freeway would be serious overkill.
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Re: Ports-to-Plains Corridor update
« Reply #20 on: December 10, 2014, 12:30:41 PM »

I don't think Midland-Odessa is populous enough to justify steering the primary I-27 route there. Big Spring and San Angelo are on a better corridor line, whether the I-27 corridor is pointed toward San Antonio or Del Rio-Eagle Pass-Laredo. Perhaps Midland-Odessa could be worthy of a I-x27 spur or loop, but the traffic counts don't seem to suggest it.

Another big concern is the boom and bust cycle of the oil and gas industry. They've had several years of booming growth. But now with oil hitting lows of $60 per barrel for WTI crude and OPEC members showing no signs of easing up on production anytime soon I would expect a bunch of job losses happening in the oil industry pretty soon.
:-/
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Re: Ports-to-Plains Corridor update
« Reply #21 on: January 01, 2015, 03:43:32 PM »

would imagine you like the San Angelo route due to the existing improvements done in the immediate area on US 67 / US 87.  Tying into them and overlaying them does make sense.  Do doubt that there is a great deal of N - S traffic though in the immediate San Angelo area.   
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Re: Ports-to-Plains Corridor update
« Reply #22 on: January 08, 2015, 03:44:45 AM »

I just drove from Denver-Fort Worth this week, both ways, for the first time and used the I-25 / 87 / 287 route.

I found the Amarillo loop confusing and disappointingly void of services, especially since once you get past it and onto 287 heading to Wichita Falls, things really are very few and far between. We ended up driving another 100 miles and ate lunch at 4:30 pm just because it took us that long to find something that wasn't a Sonic; not that we mind Sonic, but the last thing we wanted to do is sit in our car and eat. It seemed like Sonic was literally the only food establishment we encountered for quite some time. But I digress...

On the way back, when we got to Amarillo this time we ended up going two exits down I-40 to eat and then two exits back east up I-40 to get to the loop, just because we had recalled the lack of services on the trip down. It was kind of a pain but worth doing.

335 seems kind of like a mish-mash and they weren't sure what to do with it. I'd argue that there probably should at least be a freeway connection from I-40 to 87/287 here, at least since 87/287 for 40 miles or so north is already essentially full freeway; you might as well make that un-interrupted.

Anybody know what is planned for the Dumas-Dalhart portion of US 87? This is the only missing link left to complete the 4-lane entire Denver-Dallas route. There's a rather large flyover split where 87 splits from 385 now which seems rather built up for where it is. I took 87-287 through Dumas instead of the 385 route both ways, as 385 seemed rather circuitous and out of our way.

I'm not convinced that interstate status is needed north or west of Amarillo, at least right now. As long as the Dumas-Dalhart gap is completed, I was thinking maybe the expressway was adequate for the time being, although there were so few cross roads and towns along the way that I'm not sure an upgrade would require a great deal of interchange work.

287 to Ft Worth is a whole other story.
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Re: Ports-to-Plains Corridor update
« Reply #23 on: January 08, 2015, 09:49:46 AM »

On the way back, when we got to Amarillo this time we ended up going two exits down I-40 to eat and then two exits back east up I-40 to get to the loop, just because we had recalled the lack of services on the trip down. It was kind of a pain but worth doing.
I agree with what you're saying about 335.  If I had continued down I-40 another two exits, I don't know if I would've bothered to backtrack to 335, because in my experience, using 87/287 through downtown Amarillo doesn't really add much time to the drive.  There's not much traffic, and it moves pretty well, and at least there's something to see along that route. 

Or another option that I'll probably try next time: just stay on I-40 all the way to exit 57 at Bushland.  FM 2381 north, then FM 1061 west, then US 385 north.  That way you can avoid all interchanges and surface traffic in Amarillo.  Of course that route is all 2-lane, but I would imagine very low traffic volume.

Anybody know what is planned for the Dumas-Dalhart portion of US 87? This is the only missing link left to complete the 4-lane entire Denver-Dallas route. There's a rather large flyover split where 87 splits from 385 now which seems rather built up for where it is. I took 87-287 through Dumas instead of the 385 route both ways, as 385 seemed rather circuitous and out of our way.
From what I've seen, that remaining 24-mile segment is currently under construction for 4-laning.  That flyover was built sometime after 1990, so it may have been funded through the P2P initiative.
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Re: Ports-to-Plains Corridor update
« Reply #24 on: January 09, 2015, 01:30:55 AM »

Quote
I'm not convinced that interstate status is needed north or west of Amarillo, at least right now. As long as the Dumas-Dalhart gap is completed, I was thinking maybe the expressway was adequate for the time being, although there were so few cross roads and towns along the way that I'm not sure an upgrade would require a great deal of interchange work.

I think at the very least TX DOT ought to be securing ROW for the future as traffic on the corridor increases.

As for Amarillo to Fort Worth, more people than just I have mentioned it ought to be an Interstate. Really, US-287 ought to be Interstate quality from I-40 in Amarillo down to where US-287 meets I-45 South of Dallas.
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