I-27 extension signed into law with federal budget

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LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) — Texas officials say key advances in President Joe Biden’s long-debated Ports-to-Plains corridor expansion for Interstate 27 have been signed into law and incorporated into infrastructure funding under the Omnibus Budget the fiscal year 22 were included.

The Ports-to-Plains Corridor has been a decades-long effort to connect transportation and interstate infrastructure from Colorado through northeastern New Mexico and the Oklahoma Panhandle through the Texas Panhandle, including Lubbock and Amarillo, south to west Texas with connections to Midland and San Angelo before finally heading to Laredo at the Texas border.

Part of the funding legislation signed by President Biden on Tuesday designates portions of the Ports-to-Plains corridor in Texas and New Mexico as future interstate links, making those portions eligible for increased funding complete the upgrade of I-27 to a four lane state highway.

The I-27 extension will provide more direct connections for local energy and agribusiness industries to state, national and international trade, with an estimated savings of $690 million per year in off-corridor travel expenses. The expansion, which provides a new trade route, will also ease congestion on I-35 in East Texas.

According to the Ports-to-Plains Alliance, the corridor represents three border crossings along the Texas-Mexico border; through Laredo, Eagle Pass and Del Rio, with expected economic benefits for the United States through the creation of 1.7 million jobs and a $287 billion increase in GDP along the corridor.

Lubbock Rep. Jodey Arrington and Laredo Rep. Henry Cuellar, the congressmen behind the Ports-to-Plains Highway Act of 2020, responded enthusiastically to the nomination, saying that the realization of this project will be an immense economic gain for Texas The United States.

In 2020, Rep. Arrington said the corridor has an estimated cost of $25.5 billion but would account for 55 percent of the country’s economic activity. Texas gross domestic product is expected to increase by $55.6 billion in the first 20 years of that designation.

Rep. Cuellar said the I-27 expansion will add $17.2 billion to Texas’ GDP and create 178,000 construction jobs, with 17,000 long-term job opportunities in the new I-27 corridor.

“The establishment of a four lane state highway for I-27 is a game changer for our economy and quality of life in west Texas for decades to come and will strengthen our food security and energy independence for the entire country,” said Rep. Arrington.

Arrington said he had three major goals when he took office in 2016: getting cotton back into the farm bill, securing a B-21 bomber at Dyess Air Force Base, and establishing a federal highway for West Texas.

“I’ve had a lot of help from colleagues on both sides of the aisle, and I’m impressed with the opportunities this will bring to generations of West Texans,” Arrington said.

Ports-to-Plains Alliance Chairman and Lubbock Economic Development Alliance CEO, John Osborne said, “The impact of this designation is tremendous as it enables improved infrastructure for domestic and international markets, safer roads for leisure and business travel creates and connects underrepresented communities across the corridor with external markets.”

Osborne added that the designation would not have been possible without the support of Congress and attorneys at Hance Scarbrough, the law firm of former Texas Tech Chancellor Kent Hance.

Lubbock Mayor Dan Pope expressed support, saying designation I-27 will ultimately improve necessary infrastructure and increase Texas safety for commerce and visitors.

“Ports to Plains’ regional effort has been going on for decades, and today the interstate designation for I-27 was finally signed into law. Thank you to Congressman Jodey Arrington for his leadership on this project. This momentous achievement is thanks to the unwavering support of leaders like Randy Neugebauer and Robert Duncan,” said Pope. “This is a huge local, regional and national win.”

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