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Author Topic: Ports-to-Plains Corridor update  (Read 30738 times)

txstateends

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Re: Ports-to-Plains Corridor update
« Reply #25 on: January 09, 2015, 04:48:17 AM »


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.


For anyone wanting to try RM 2381 or RM 1061: be careful.  I have read several articles in the Amarillo paper in recent months about bad wrecks.  I'm not sure if people aren't watching for the twists and turns, or they're racing, or they're trying to pass someone, or heaven forbid messing with their phone while driving.  No services either.  For anyone who is fond of Old West-style vistas while driving, that area and that part of the Canadian River valley is a nice sample, though.

Otherwise, the Loop 335 option has been a bit of a head-scratcher for me as well; not only the hodgepodge of road styles, but the services situation.  Not sure why there aren't more services, as there has been *more* than enough time to add places along the way.  The only parts of the loop that have seen retail/economic additions since the highway was finally completed, have been along the west loop at and south of I-40, and around the I-27 intersection.  Nothing really new at I-40 east, except for a couple of recent hotels and the acquisition of another by the way-too-dominant local excuse for a convenience store (they've torn down the hotel to put up their own version of a truckstop-travel center).  I've never understood the lack of in-town services on US 87-US 287 north of Loop 335, either.  Besides making the loop more uniform in construction, the addition of direct ramps at I-40 and at US 87-US 287 should really be considered, especially to keep truck traffic moving.
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usends

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Re: Ports-to-Plains Corridor update
« Reply #26 on: January 09, 2015, 12:57:42 PM »

For anyone wanting to try RM 2381 or RM 1061: be careful.  I have read several articles in the Amarillo paper in recent months about bad wrecks.  I'm not sure if people aren't watching for the twists and turns, or they're racing, or they're trying to pass someone, or heaven forbid messing with their phone while driving.  No services either.  For anyone who is fond of Old West-style vistas while driving, that area and that part of the Canadian River valley is a nice sample, though.

I wonder if that might be partly due to an increase in non-local traffic: for at least the past several months, Google's default directions from Denver to DFW include the US 385-RM 1061 routing (rather than just staying on US 87).  I know my son (who makes that drive) unquestioningly follows whatever directions his phone gives him, and that's also true of his college-age friends, so presumably that's a common practice with lots of smart-phone navigators.
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MaxConcrete

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Re: Ports-to-Plains Corridor update
« Reply #27 on: January 10, 2015, 10:08:22 PM »

TxDOT is launching planning to turn the entire Amarillo Loop 335 into a freeway. This request for services was posted yesterday

http://www.dot.state.tx.us/insdtdot/orgchart/cmd/cserve/profserv/notice/04-5SDP5001.pdf

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The work to be performed by the Engineer shall consist of providing preliminary engineering services for development of schematic design layout, environmental studies in support of the schematic work, public involvement, permit determination, data collection analysis, mitigation commitments, traffic engineering and operations, surveying and mapping, and Subsurface Utility Engineering (SUE) services for the conversion of a segment of SL 335 from SW 9th Ave to west of FM 1541 (Washington St) (approximately 30 miles) from a non-freeway to a freeway section (with frontage roads, ramps, grade separations over intersecting cross streets, four general purpose lanes which could ultimately accommodate 6 general purpose lanes) in the City of Amarillo.

The Engineer shall also provide engineering services required for the preparation of plans, specifications and estimates (PS&E) and related documents, for the upgrading of a segment of SL 335 from IH 27 to FM 2186 (approximately 2 miles) from a non-freeway to a freeway section (with frontage roads, ramps, grade separations over intersecting cross streets, four general purpose lanes which could ultimately accommodate 6 general purpose lanes) and direct connectors in the City of Amarillo.

The 30-mile distance specified corresponds to going clockwise around the loop. This distance covers about three-fourths of the loop from the middle of the west section (SW 9th Ave) to the middle of the south section (Washington St). Plans were already in the works for converting the southwest section to a freeway, and this request for engineering services includes a 2-mile part of the southwest ection. Work on the southwest section will proceed first.
 
 

Bobby5280

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Re: Ports-to-Plains Corridor update
« Reply #28 on: January 11, 2015, 03:25:59 PM »

It will be interesting to see what parts of Loop 335 they can get funded for this freeway conversion project. I expected the Southwest portion to come first since that's near a lot of retail development on Amarillo's West side. A bunch of that section will have to be built on a new alignment though. From my own selfish perspective, I'd get a lot more use out of the NE quadrant of Loop 335 getting converted to a freeway for my drives between Oklahoma and Colorado.

Two things I wonder about: 1. Will the converted freeway still be a freeway, or will it end up being tolled? 2. Will the finished freeway loop carry an Interstate designation or just stay as a Texas Loop. "I-427" would be a cool number; it's the same number as a big block V8 engine.
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mrose

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Re: Ports-to-Plains Corridor update
« Reply #29 on: January 11, 2015, 10:13:14 PM »

For anyone wanting to try RM 2381 or RM 1061: be careful.  I have read several articles in the Amarillo paper in recent months about bad wrecks.  I'm not sure if people aren't watching for the twists and turns, or they're racing, or they're trying to pass someone, or heaven forbid messing with their phone while driving.  No services either.  For anyone who is fond of Old West-style vistas while driving, that area and that part of the Canadian River valley is a nice sample, though.

I wonder if that might be partly due to an increase in non-local traffic: for at least the past several months, Google's default directions from Denver to DFW include the US 385-RM 1061 routing (rather than just staying on US 87).  I know my son (who makes that drive) unquestioningly follows whatever directions his phone gives him, and that's also true of his college-age friends, so presumably that's a common practice with lots of smart-phone navigators.

Yes, Google Maps tried to take me that way too, but I ignored it.
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dfwmapper

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Re: Ports-to-Plains Corridor update
« Reply #30 on: January 11, 2015, 10:35:01 PM »

I doubt it would be tolled. Too easy to shunpike. And an Interstate designation seems unlikely unless Ports to Plains gets the I-69 treatment and the politicians can make a big deal out of it, because TxDOT doesn't care. If it were to get one, it would be an x40 not an x27. What I wonder about is if they plan to build flyovers for the 2 big left turn movements (US 287 SB to N Loop 335 EB, and E Loop 335 SB to I-40 EB early on. The other movements could start out as frontage road connections (with room to build direct connectors eventually), but those 2 would be vital for keeping truck traffic moving.
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Re: Ports-to-Plains Corridor update
« Reply #31 on: January 12, 2015, 12:19:58 AM »

I doubt it would be tolled. Too easy to shunpike.
(Assuming you mean Loop 335 by it) there are a number of Texas toll roads that are trivial to shunpike if you take the frontage roads. But the toll road gets you there a lot faster.
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dfwmapper

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Re: Ports-to-Plains Corridor update
« Reply #32 on: January 12, 2015, 03:48:45 AM »

I doubt it would be tolled. Too easy to shunpike.
(Assuming you mean Loop 335 by it) there are a number of Texas toll roads that are trivial to shunpike if you take the frontage roads. But the toll road gets you there a lot faster.
Indeed, but those are different roads built for different purposes. Most of Loop 335 handles through traffic, a relatively large percentage of it being trucks. Sam Rayburn Tollway (which has continuous frontage roads and is therefore trivial to shunpike if desired) is primarily to serve commuters and sees very little truck traffic. Most of the other toll roads have discontinuous frontage roads that make it more difficult to shunpike, but still see relatively little truck traffic. I look at Loop 335 as being closer to what was done with the US 281 freeway conversion at Falfurrias (future I-69C). Have to maintain continuous frontage roads because of access requirements, fairly undeveloped, only a couple miles long, and most of the traffic on the road is not local, at most stopping to drain one tank and fill another. They originally planned to toll it, but toll studies said they probably wouldn't make enough in tolls to pay for the cost of the toll infrastructure, let alone the road itself.

As it is, Loop 335 is about a 10 minute drive from I-40 to US 287. The downtown route is about 15 minutes, though it depends a lot more on traffic and hitting the lights. Upgrading Loop 335 to a 75mph freeway would only cut the time over the current route by a couple minutes (there's only one stoplight on the current route other than at the I-40 and US 287 frontage roads), though it would slow down the frontage roads because of the extra lights. Likely would push more traffic back through downtown, defeating the purpose of the loop.
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Bobby5280

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Re: Ports-to-Plains Corridor update
« Reply #33 on: January 12, 2015, 02:40:05 PM »

I don't know about that. Normally I'll take the Loop 335 bypass to skip around downtown Amarillo, all those stop lights and the increased risk of a fender bender around the Business I-40 intersection. I'll only go by way of downtown if I need to stop to get gas, eat, etc. due to the lack of service businesses along the loop. A lot of the time I'll top off my tank up the road in Dumas.

A pair of flyover ramps from US-287 to Loop 335 would be very good for long distance traffic going from places like Denver to Dallas. The ramps might not be so good for the gas station near that intersection.
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DJStephens

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Re: Ports-to-Plains Corridor update
« Reply #34 on: January 13, 2015, 02:18:10 PM »

 And an Interstate designation seems unlikely unless Ports to Plains gets the I-69 treatment and the politicians can make a big deal out of it, because TxDOT doesn't care.
[/quote]

An I-240 designation would make more sense as I-40 is the dominant route in the panhandle.  The I-427 designation would work on the Loop 289? route around Lubbock. 

« Last Edit: January 13, 2015, 02:56:47 PM by DJStephens »
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NE2

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Re: Ports-to-Plains Corridor update
« Reply #35 on: January 13, 2015, 02:58:39 PM »

the duplicitous Border highway
Do you mean duplicative? (Not that there's anything wrong with building two parallel highways rather than one wider highway if the right-of-way is there.) Or are there secret tunnels being built underneath for those Muslim Obama voters to give our Dear Leader a third term?
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DJStephens

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Re: Ports-to-Plains Corridor update
« Reply #36 on: January 13, 2015, 03:13:29 PM »

Edited that out, as it seemed better for a separate thread.  Was regarding to the proposed and or planned west side El Paso "Border Highway".   Which seems very ill conceived, given the poor condition of and given the piecemeal "improvements" done on the existing Interstate 10 corridor in the same general area.   
« Last Edit: January 13, 2015, 03:15:30 PM by DJStephens »
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usends

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Re: Ports-to-Plains Corridor update
« Reply #37 on: February 18, 2015, 01:57:07 PM »

...for at least the past several months, Google's default directions from Denver to DFW include the US 385-RM 1061 routing (rather than just staying on US 87).
Yes, Google Maps tried to take me that way too, but I ignored it.

I just had an opportunity to try this route.  On the way down, I left US 87 at Hartley, instead following 385 to 1061, then 2381 south through Bushland to I-40.  That route took me exactly 1 hour to get from Hartley to the I-40/I-27 interchange (no adverse conditions, very light traffic).

On the way back home, I stayed on US 87 to get from the Amarillo interchange to Hartley.  That took me 16 minutes longer.  Granted, part of that was attributable to a ground blizzard around Dumas.  But the mileage is also longer, plus I was delayed by truck traffic in Dumas.  That town sorely needs a bypass, and unless that happens, I think in most circumstances 385/1061 might be the quicker option for non-truck traffic.

Some general notes: the remaining 2-lane segment of US 87 (between Dumas and Hartley) has recently been widened and resurfaced.  In some sections, it appears to be wide enough for 4-lanes, but currently is striped for only 2.  Other segments don't seem quite wide enough, but I didn't see much in terms of construction, so I'm not sure what the ultimate plan is there.  Both Dumas and Dalhart appear to be thriving: lots of new commercial development.
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txstateends

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Re: Ports-to-Plains Corridor update
« Reply #38 on: February 18, 2015, 05:07:24 PM »

Interesting results.  Thanks for the update.

I didn't know what traffic has been like in Dumas lately.  I figured that there might be the need for a bypass of some kind, between the truck traffic and the presence of the railroad there.

Didn't mean to be so OTT about my previous posting about the 2 RM back roads, but they just seem to have had more bad-wreck coverage in the Amarillo paper in the last several months than before.
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usends

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Re: Ports-to-Plains Corridor update
« Reply #39 on: February 19, 2015, 10:18:29 AM »

...the 2 RM back roads... seem to have had more bad-wreck coverage in the Amarillo paper in the last several months than before.

I wouldn't be surprised if that was actually the case: I imagine Google Maps can have a significant impact on traffic patterns.  I doubt I would have considered that route if Goog hadn't suggested it.
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dfwmapper

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Re: Ports-to-Plains Corridor update
« Reply #40 on: February 20, 2015, 04:04:55 AM »

Some general notes: the remaining 2-lane segment of US 87 (between Dumas and Hartley) has recently been widened and resurfaced.  In some sections, it appears to be wide enough for 4-lanes, but currently is striped for only 2.  Other segments don't seem quite wide enough, but I didn't see much in terms of construction, so I'm not sure what the ultimate plan is there.  Both Dumas and Dalhart appear to be thriving: lots of new commercial development.
Widening to 4 lanes from the US 385 interchange to the Hartley/Moore C/L. There are plans to eventually do the same from there east to the railroad overpass on the west side of Dumas, but I don't think it's funded.
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Bobby5280

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Re: Ports-to-Plains Corridor update
« Reply #41 on: February 23, 2015, 04:40:24 PM »

4 laning US-87 between Dumas & Hartley has been planned all along for the Ports to Plains corridor. Unfortunately this last bit of it seems to be a big struggle to complete.

Once TX DOT can finish that 4-lane conversion they might have to start planning in the future for some kind of bypass for Dumas. Obviously it would be better and probably a lot easier to build one on the West side of Dumas not too far from the railroad.
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Re: Ports-to-Plains Corridor update
« Reply #42 on: August 13, 2015, 12:06:54 AM »

Recent articles on I-27 (as part of the Port to Plains Corridor) show that the initiative is continuing to gain some momentum politically, but who knows where the money to extend I-27 will come from:

http://sanangelolive.com/news/san-angelo/2015-07-31/san-angelo-leaders-approve-txdot-i-27-interstate-feasibility-study

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The Ports to Plains Alliance proposed extending Interstate 27 to pass through San Angelo and TxDOT is ready to conduct a feasibility study. The interstate is planned to be a part of a system that will eventually connect roads between the borders of Canada and Mexico. ...

According to Floyd, I-27 currently runs from Amarillo to Lubbock, but Ports to Plains’s idea is to extend the interstate south to Del Rio. There is currently some discussion about whether the road will run from Big Spring to Midland and what the route would be. ...

Several proposed plans for I-27 suggest bypassing San Angelo to the east or west. And if the roadway runs west and rejoins U.S. 277's current roadway south of the city, the interstate may be placed directly through the Christoval area.

http://www.newswest9.com/story/29602415/big-spring-economic-development-corp-votes-yes-on-i-27-resolution

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I-27 currently only stretches between Lubbock and Amarillo, but could ultimately act as a trade route from Canada to the southern tip of Mexico, with Big Spring acting as a key destination along the way. Gregg Street would become Business 87, while relief routes along Highway 87 would be developed into the new section of I-27.

"That would make us the crossroads of the nation," said Gloria McDonald, a Ports-to-Plains Alliance board member pushing for local support of the long-term project. "They're already building roads and on their way to making it happen [in Mexico]. This would facilitate the transportation of goods and services, and allow for an economic and industrial boom in Big Spring."

Extending I-27 through the city would also make Big Spring home to two interstate highways; one running north-south and another east-west. This infrastructure is currently only found in five Texas cities.

"A lot of major metropolitan areas have two interstates that cross in their communities," said EDC Executive Director Terry Wegman. "This would make Big Spring one of those communities and provide for potential growth and economic development."

The next step involves a "feasibility study" conducted by the Texas Department of Transportation, he explained. Final approval of the project depends on numerous factors, including federal funding.

Construction, if approved, may not start for years and likely would not be completed in Big Spring until 2035, Wegman said.

http://delrionewsherald.com/news/article_2aada1f8-20d6-11e5-b1a4-97fc9d2666e8.html

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The Rotary Club of Del Rio hosted Michael Reeves, president of the Ports-to-Plains Alliance, at its weekly Tuesday meeting and received a wealth of knowledge about transportation infrastructure.

Reeves presented information on a proposed Interstate 27 extension, which would help Texas connect economically to Canada and Mexico. He believes that an I-27 route would be a much more attractive option for truck traffic than the congested I-35 and that Del Rio could be a part of that extension, via the portion of Highway 277 that runs between here and San Angelo.

http://sanangelolive.com/news/county/2015-05-13/about-building-interstate-through-san-angelo

Quote
According to Reeves, the Ports-to-Plains Alliance began back in the mid-90s, as a project that originated from Lubbock City Council and then went to the Chamber of Commerce in Lubbock. “The idea was how I-27 could be extended,” Reeves said. “Initially that report (from TxDOT) came back [and said] it wasn’t feasible for the investment to upgrade to full interstate standards,” he explained. “It was decided that in the rural industrial area, four lane highways were adequate at the time, and so Ports-to-Plains worked on getting two-lane highways upgraded to four. One of the first successes we had was getting U.S.  87 up to four lanes between Big Spring and San Angelo, so we have seen some progress.”

The movement of goods north to south through the existing network of 2,333 miles of mostly two lane highways extends through ten states, from the Mexican border to the Canadian border.  Funds from the Panhandle area will be to cover the costs of extending I-27 to Big Spring. Reeves played a key role in the collaboration of that effort, citing that Big Spring  acted as a bottle neck for freight bound to the panhandle and beyond to the northern corridor.

“In the city of San Angelo, the economic development group has been very active here with our connections in Mexico, and has opened up a lot of trade opportunities there,” he said. “I think we can see a significant opening up from the ports of the west coast of Mexico to make this a significant trade corridor across Mexico and this could be a significant distribution center for that,” he said. “We are also working with a couple of groups all the way up in Alberta, Canada; the energy production up there will benefit us as well. But, we have members all the way down from Northern Canada to the west coast of Mexico, so the project has really grown and we’ve also maintained and been effective under great leadership.” he said.

Expanding I-27 to include San Angelo would give freight an alternative route out of the state and add another connection to Mexico besides the one in Laredo.  “When we first looked at the expansion of I-27, 20 years ago the traffic counts weren’t there, the feasibility wasn’t, but we have approached TxDOT again and they are looking at conducting another feasibility study on the interstate expansion,” Reeves explained.

“Midland/Odessa was concerned about maintaining I-20 itself and were opposed to looking at a new one (interstate). There were some smaller communities that were concerned about being bypassed, which are typical concerns, but overall the feedback was positive.  We expect to hear pretty quickly that they will move ahead and conduct a feasibility study on extending I-27.”

In the end, Reeves was asking for support from the county in bridging west Texas to Mexico and the northern corridor to Canada, promoting the potential for economic growth in San Angelo as a result of directing I-27 through the city. “Having that designation, even if you don’t have the interstate constructed through here is a great marketing tool for the economic developers in the community to be able to recruit new business and show that the project is coming through,” he said. “I think that will be a significant positive step as well.”
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Henry

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Re: Ports-to-Plains Corridor update
« Reply #43 on: August 13, 2015, 12:05:42 PM »

I never liked how I-27 stops short of reaching I-20 and/or I-10. This would be a great start.
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Re: Ports-to-Plains Corridor update
« Reply #44 on: August 13, 2015, 12:39:44 PM »

You are talking about Texas now home of I-2.  Yes I know that  one I compared it to is just a feeder into the new I-69 from all those Rio Grande Crossings in the lower Rio Grande Valley, but it functions like I-27 a glorified spur of another interstate when completed.
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Re: Ports-to-Plains Corridor update
« Reply #45 on: August 13, 2015, 08:19:07 PM »

... but who knows where the money to extend I-27 will come from:

I didn't realize the amount of lobbying going on, and I'm also surprised by the extensive advocacy web site http://www.portstoplains.com.

I agree, the chances of getting funding for a true interstate are slim-to-none in Texas since I-69 takes priority and I-69 will require many billions (probably more than $10 billion) and 20+ years for a full build-out.

I don't believe the traffic in that desolate area can justify a full interstate. The route goes near the former polygamist ranch at El Dorado. That's a very desolate area. And around Midland-San Angelo there is not an obvious best route, which is why two options are shown. As one the previous studies concluded, it makes more sense to upgrade several routes to four-lane divided highways as needed, rather than build one interstate.
 

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Re: Ports-to-Plains Corridor update
« Reply #46 on: August 16, 2015, 10:50:19 PM »

An extension of I-27 would be built for other reasons than moving local traffic in West Texas more efficiently.

Such a route extension might consolidate a lot of long haul truck traffic onto the route and off other more crowded Interstate highways. IMHO, Denver and other cities along the Front Range of the Rockies need more than just I-25 and I-70. There are no faster, diagonal routes down toward the Gulf Coast. The Ports to Plains Corridor would provide at least some of that. However, I think what is really needed is a diagonal route between Denver and Oklahoma City, much like how I-44 works between OKC and St. Louis. That would be a big benefit to the system since it would direct NW US traffic to much more than just far South Texas cities.

The oil patch in West Texas also produces a LOT of truck traffic. Interstate highways are better designed to deal with that stuff. Without some kind of obvious "main" N-S corridor in the area truckers are going to make all sorts of other random choices.

Some of the segments of US-287 North of Amarillo are badly in need of upgrades for safety purposes. One of my girlfriend's close friends was killed in a head on collision with a semi in the Oklahoma Panhandle last year on a 2-lane segment of US-287 North of Boise City. If that route had been 4-laned that fatal accident never would have happened.
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Re: Ports-to-Plains Corridor update
« Reply #47 on: August 17, 2015, 04:38:50 PM »

Such a route extension might consolidate a lot of long haul truck traffic onto the route and off other more crowded Interstate highways. IMHO, Denver and other cities along the Front Range of the Rockies need more than just I-25 and I-70. There are no faster, diagonal routes down toward the Gulf Coast. The Ports to Plains Corridor would provide at least some of that. However, I think what is really needed is a diagonal route between Denver and Oklahoma City, much like how I-44 works between OKC and St. Louis. That would be a big benefit to the system since it would direct NW US traffic to much more than just far South Texas cities.

For that I would just say upgrade US 287 between DFW and Limon, CO to interstate standards (or, at least, make it four lanes).
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Cody Goodman
Huntsville, AL, United States

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Re: Ports-to-Plains Corridor update
« Reply #48 on: December 19, 2016, 12:26:01 AM »

Widening to 4 lanes from the US 385 interchange to the Hartley/Moore C/L. There are plans to eventually do the same from there east to the railroad overpass on the west side of Dumas, but I don't think it's funded.
Update: just had a chance to drive US 87 between Hartley and Dumas again.  I don't know if further upgrades are planned, but for now construction appears to be done.  This segment is still not four-laned, but it has been improved to a Super-2... if I'm using that term correctly.  There is a passing lane almost the entire way, but for a few miles it's for eastbound traffic only, and then it switches over to westbound for a few miles, and it alternates back and forth like that along the whole segment.
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Re: Ports-to-Plains Corridor update
« Reply #49 on: December 19, 2016, 04:40:31 AM »

Widening to 4 lanes from the US 385 interchange to the Hartley/Moore C/L. There are plans to eventually do the same from there east to the railroad overpass on the west side of Dumas, but I don't think it's funded.
Update: just had a chance to drive US 87 between Hartley and Dumas again.  I don't know if further upgrades are planned, but for now construction appears to be done.  This segment is still not four-laned, but it has been improved to a Super-2... if I'm using that term correctly.  There is a passing lane almost the entire way, but for a few miles it's for eastbound traffic only, and then it switches over to westbound for a few miles, and it alternates back and forth like that along the whole segment.

Doesn't sound like a Super-2; that would involve eliminating private access and the construction of overpasses/interchanges, at least at major intersections.  This sounds like simple alternating passing zones -- one of the more cost-effective way to increase capacity.  Are there any indications that private access has been in any way eliminated or at least reduced?   That would be an indicator that further improvements may be pending down the line.   
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