Third NAFTA Super Corridor Unveiled
May 15, 2007
KVII Online (Lubbock)
LUBBOCK -The state's ability to develop public-private partnerships - as envisioned with the Trans-Texas Corridor - is critical to complete long-sought transportation improvements and economic development from Laredo to north of Amarillo, according to the Ports-to-Plains Corridor Coalition.
"Partnerships that pool federal, state, local and private sector resources will be needed to make Ports-to-Plains a reality and there are several opportunities for that to occur," said Michael Reeves, president of the Lubbock-based coalition.
A new study prepared by Cambridge Systematics, Inc. for the Texas Department of Transportation concludes that enhancements to rail, electric transmission lines and highways would improve mobility, safety and economic opportunity along the Ports-to-Plains Corridor. The improvements would allow for better transport of existing and emerging industries, including cotton, ethanol and energy generated by wind power.
"It's not just about moving more people and more cars," said Reeves. "When you can find better, cheaper, faster ways to get West Texas products to market, the stronger you make our economy and improve quality of life. We can't achieve these goals without private sector innovation and investment."
Key finding of the report, "Trans-Texas Corridor Rural Development Opportunities: Ports-to Plains Case Study," include:
The Trans-Texas Corridor initiative has the potential to enhance mobility and economic development in rural Texas by providing new infrastructure capacity and options to existing and emerging industries.
In the Ports-to-Plains Corridor in West Texas, development of intermodal and conventional rail terminal facilities and improvement of rail interconnectivity could increase the productivity of several existing and emerging industries, including cotton and ethanol.
Electric transmission lines developed as TTC facilities could help offset transmission capacity constraints and efficiently move West Texas wind power to urban customers in Central and Eastern Texas.
In order to advance these and other opportunities - including highway development - in the Ports-to-Plains Corridor and other rural regions of Texas, the key stakeholders should work together to analyze opportunities, identify beneficiaries, and form partnerships to moved development forward.
The study team also developed a framework to evaluate the potential for Trans-Texas Corridor development in other rural corridors of the State.
"Much to its credit, TxDOT understands what works for metropolitan areas may not work for rural Texas," said Reeves. "Instead of taking a cookie cutter approach the department has worked with us to find ways to meet the transportation needs of our region that will be good for all Texans."
The complete Ports-to-Plains report is posted at www.portstoplains.com and on TxDOT's Web site.
The Ports-to-Plains Corridor extends for 1,390 miles from the U.S./Mexico border in Texas through portions of Oklahoma and New Mexico to Denver, Colorado.
The Ports-to-Plains Corridor Coalition formally advocates for transportation and economic development in the corridor and, since its formation nearly a decade ago, has obtained federal and state funding for many transportation improvements, especially for expansion of existing highway routes from two to four lanes. Currently, about half corridor's mileage has either been upgraded to four- or six-lane divided highway or is in the design or construction phase of development.
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