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Ports-to-Plains Alliance 2013 Federal Transportation Policy Paper


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Recommendations of Federal Transportation Policy by the Ports-to-Plains Alliance. Addressed the implementation of Map-21 and the next Transportation Reauthorization legislation from a rural perspectives. The importance of a Strong Federal Role in transportation is highlighted.

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Ports-to-Plains Alliance 2013 Federal Transportation Policy Paper

  2. 2. A RURAL CORRIDOR OF NATIONAL SIGNIFICANCEThe north-south movement of goods and persons through the nine-state Ports-to-Plains AllianceCorridor relies on an existing 2,333-mile network of mostly two-lane highways. These highways are apart of the National Highway System. Moreover, in recognition of the importance of this corridor, itsentire length--from the Mexico border to the Canadian border--has been designated by federal law asNational Highway System High Priority Corridors: the Ports-to-Plains Corridor (#38), the HeartlandExpressway (#14), the Theodore Roosevelt Expressway (#58), and the Camino Real Corridor (#27).Unfortunately, the existing north-south highway network in our corridor is inadequate to meet thecurrent and future needs of the region and the nation and faces a number of significant challenges:The corridor needs greater capacity to carry the growing levels of traffic and commerce.• Our corridor runs through 4 of the top 8 farm states that produce $23 billion of agriculturalgoods, or 19.5% of all U.S. agriculture products. The food produced in this region is destined forcities and towns throughout the United States. Truck movements along the corridor, which willgrow significantly in the future, are a critical part of the agricultural distribution network.• Our corridor also serves 7 of the top 10 oil producing states and 5 of the top 6 natural gasproducing states. Development of these traditional energy resources, which are essential toour nation’s energy security, is booming up and down the corridor. This is putting tremendouspressure on the north-south highway network. For example, developing just one oil wellrequires an estimated 2,300 truck movements.• Our corridor serves the top 6 nationwide and 8 of the top 10 installed wind generation states,generating over 6,000 MW, or nearly 77.8 percent of the U.S. total. A single wind towerrequires 126 trucks for major parts, including the crane, concrete or rebar. One planned windfarm in West Texas would install more than 2,600 towers, and put more than 21,000 trucks and42,000 pilot cars on the highways in and out of the site. Developing the growing renewableenergy industry is critical to our national security and economic growth. This energy generatedin our corridor will feed into the national grid benefitting all Americans.
  3. 3. • Our corridor serves 27.6 percent of the Nation’s ethanol refining capacity. Production ofrenewable fuels is expected to increase significantly over the coming decades, puttingadditional stress on the corridor’s transportation network. Again, the ethanol produced in ourcorridor will benefit all Americans.• Our corridor is home to some of our most popular national parks. The travel and tourismassociated with these parks is growing, putting additional traffic on the corridor’s highwaynetwork. The result has been seasonal bottlenecks and “hot spots” leading to these parks.• Our corridor is also feeling the effects of increased international trade with Canada and Mexico.We are a major U.S. trading region, generating $280.4 billion in trade with Canada and Mexico,nearly 25.4% of total U.S.-North America trade. Much of this trade results in freight movementup and down the corridor, including spillover traffic from heavily-congested parallel corridors.• The bottom line: To promote economic security and prosperity throughout Americas energy andagricultural heartland, the north-south highway network in our corridor must be upgraded andmodernized.The corridor must be modernized to safely accommodate today’s trucks.• The two-lane highways that make up most of the existing north-south network in the corridorare simply not designed to carry the number of trucks, especially heavy trucks, currently beingexperienced up and down the corridor.• Moreover, these roads are not geometrically designed to accommodate large trucks, especiallythe trucks carrying energy-related equipment.Picture sequence above is a wind turbine blade being transported around the courthouse in Boise City, Oklahoma
  4. 4. The corridor must be upgraded to keep U.S. agriculture competitive.• The crops produced by the farms along the corridor are a key international export. Canada isthe leading destination for agricultural exports, followed by Mexico. With expected growth inUnited States and world populations, assisting the competitiveness of U.S. agriculture is vitallyimportant.The corridor must have greater connectivity for its communities.• The two-lane, antiquated highways in the corridor have resulted in a lack of adequateconnectivity, which is impeding the potential for economic growth in the region. This regionneeds a four-lane modern north-south highway.• A modern, efficient and safe transportation facility will promote economic development in aregion of the country that has the highest rate of population loss over the last decade andensure that America’s heartland and its communities are connected to America.The corridor must be safe.• From a safety perspective, the current situation on the north-south highway in the corridor isunsatisfactory. The mix of vehicles travelling up and down the corridor is frightening: largeagricultural vehicles, oversized flatbeds carrying wind turbine components, local residentsheading to work or school, heavy trucks serving the energy-extraction industries, out-of-statevisitors from across America heading to the national parks, and trucks carrying internationalfreight to or from Canada or Mexico. And all of this on two-lane, narrow roads that were notdesigned for this type of traffic or these types of vehicles.• Accidents will be significantly reduced on current two-lane segments of the corridor when theyare upgraded to four-lane-divided highway. Rural roads are dangerous and improving themsaves lives. Each year, more than 42,000 Americans are killed and nearly 3 million are injuredon our nation’s roadways. The total economic cost of these crashes exceeds $230 billionannually.• Unfortunately, nearly 60 percent of highway fatalities typically occur on two-lane rural roads.When adjusted for vehicle miles traveled, according to the GAO, some rural roads have afatality rate over six times greater than urban interstates. These facts are extremely troublingsince only 40 percent of all vehicle miles are traveled on two-lane rural roads.
  5. 5. A STRONG FEDERAL ROLEThe Ports-to-Plains Alliance supports modernizing our Nation’s surface transportation network,including the upgrading of multi-state rural highway corridors, to meet the challenges of the 21stcentury.Given the urgency and magnitude of this undertaking, it is imperative that the Federal Government bethe strong partner that it has been in the past. From the First Congress support of lighthouses, buoysand public piers to make navigation "easy and safe;" to Henry Clays support for internalimprovements; to President Lincolns support for the transcontinental railroad; to President TeddyRoosevelts support of the Panama Canal; to President Franklin Roosevelts support for a cross-country,high-level road system; to President Eisenhowers support of the Interstate Highway System and theFederal Highway Trust Fund; and to President Reagans support for increased motor fuel user fees topreserve and modernize the Federal-aid highway network; the Federal Government has beeninstrumental in the development of our Nations surface transportation system.This system unifies our country by providing for the easy movement of people and goods. AsPresident Eisenhower noted, without it, "we would be a mere alliance of many separate parts.” TheFederal Government must provide the leadership and resources to help preserve and modernize thenational surface transportation network for the 21st century.
  6. 6. PORTS-TO-PLAINS RECOMMENDATIONSWith the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21) set to expire on September 30,2014, the 113thCongress will need to reauthorize the program by that date. While we recognize thatmuch of the reauthorization work will take place next year, we offer at this time our thoughts on thedirection that the reauthorization should take.Recommendation #1: Aggressive Oversight of MAP-21MAP-21 made many important policy reforms. The cumulative impact of these reforms were intendedto give states greater flexibility to address priority needs on the national surface transportationnetwork and allow them to deliver projects more efficiently and more quickly. The Ports-to-PlainsAlliance supports aggressive congressional oversight to ensure that the Administration implementsMAP-21 in accordance with congressional intent and that increased state flexibility does notundermine investment in the national surface transportation network, especially multi-state ruralcorridors.Recommendation #2: Fix the Highway Trust FundThere is a looming Highway Trust Fund deficit. The challenge will be to develop a long-term fix for theTrust Fund that provides a stable, adequate revenue stream sufficient to facilitate the modern,efficient, and safe national surface transportation system that America needs. In Roll Call, HouseTransportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Bill Shuster described the challenge as follows:With the Highway Trust Fund facing its own version of a fiscal cliff in the coming years, we must find away to pay for transportation improvements without borrowing from our children. We cannot borrowour way to a better future. We must work together, listen to all ideas and opinions, and build aconsensus on what is best for America and our future prosperity.The Ports-to-Plains Alliance agrees. Forging a consensus on a long-term solution is critical.Recommendation #3: Increase Overall InvestmentIt is not enough to simply make the Highway Trust Fund solvent. Virtually every study, including studiesby two bipartisan national commissions established by Congress, has concluded that there must be asignificant increase in investment from the federal, state, and local governments, as well as the privatesector. Recognizing that preserving and upgrading our national transportation infrastructure will becostly, we support significantly increased transportation investment and continued user financingthrough the Highway Trust Fund. We agree that a consensus must be forged on the best way pay forthe increased investment. We are prepared to support a reasonable solution that addresses the needsof rural transportation corridors like the Ports-to-Plains Corridor in a fair and equitable manner.
  7. 7. Recommendation #4: Focus Resources to Achieve Network BenefitsThe Federal program should go back to its roots by focusing its resources on upgrading our nationalhighway system on a network basis. There is no greater example of the benefits that can accrue to theNation from system-wide transportation improvements than the Interstate Highway System. It is a bigreason why America is as prosperous as it is today. The challenge for the future will be upgrading thekey portions of the National Highway System, including rural freight/energy corridors, to meet thechallenges of the 21stCentury. This would require sustained, adequate investment that producesnetwork effects, as opposed to ad hoc local improvements. The investment should raise theproductivity of the system as a whole, as was the case with the Interstate Highway System. TheInterstate Construction Program, built on a federal-state partnership and a cost-to-complete basis,could serve as a model.Recommendation #5: Ensure Focused Resources For Critical Rural Freight/Energy CorridorsRural freight corridors, especially rural corridors that are critical to energy development, like the Ports-to-Plains Alliance Corridor, must be a key focus of the next reauthorization bill. This could beaccomplished in a number of ways:• A cost-to-complete type of system-wide improvement program as discussed above;• A separate freight highway program, with adequate resources set aside for rural freight/energycorridors; or• A targeted rural freight/energy corridor investment program backed up by adequate resources.To the extent the next bill relies on innovative financing (PPPs, tolling, pricing, enhanced-creditfacilities), it is important to remember that these options do not generally help rural corridors. Most ofthese options require that the project generate a revenue stream (usually tolls) to repay theinvestment, which is not an option in most rural corridors. Therefore, to the extent the bill gives urbanareas increased financing flexibility, it should also take steps to require that states give priority to ruralcorridors in obligating its federal highway grants.
  8. 8. PORTS-TO-PLAINS ALLIANCEMISSION STATEMENTThe Ports-to-Plains Alliance is a non-profit, non-partisan, grassroots alliance of communitiesand businesses whose mission is to advocate for a robust transportation infrastructure topromote economic security and prosperity throughout North Americas energy andagricultural heartland. Today, we collaborate with our federal and state leaders, partners inCanada and Mexico, and industry partners, to deliver the infrastructure, food and fuel tosecure the quality of life of Americas great cities. At the same time, we embrace Americasnew energy economy, and are capitalizing upon oil, gas, wind power, biofuels and otherinnovation sectors to renew one of Americas greatest legacies, the rural heartland.ALLIANCE HEADQUARTERS5401 N MLK Blvd. #395Lubbock TX 79403Ph: 806-775-3373PORTS-TO-PLAINS ALLIANCE STAFFMichael ReevesPresidentPorts-to-Plains AlliancePh: 806-775-2338michael.reeves@portstoplains.comJoe KielyVice President of OperationsPorts-to-Plains AlliancePh: 303-586-1787joe.kiely@portstoplains.comDuffy HinkleVice President of Membership & MarketingPorts-to-Plains AlliancePh: 806-755-3373duffy.hinkle@portstoplains.comJacque DalyExecutive AssistantPorts-to-Plains AlliancePh: 806-775-3369jacque.daly@portstoplains.comCal KlewinExecutive DirectorTheodore Roosevelt ExpresswayPh: 701-523-6171cal@trexpressway.comMarlin JohnsonCommunications DirectorHeartland Expressway AssociationPh: