MOTRAN Minute: Expanding I-27

local news

ODESSA, Texas (Big 2/Fox 24) – MOTRAN has recently received a copy of a study designed to look at the Ports-to-Plains Corridor and the possibility of increasing the efficiency of transportation along Interstate Highway 27 in Texas.

House Bill 1079 was passed into law by Governor Abbott in 2019 to create a study through TXDOT to look at the viability of expanding I-27 through the entire state. According to Dustin Fawcett with MOTRAN Alliance, the committee working on this study has prematurely designated a route for this project.

The proposed route would expand I-27 South via Highway 87 through Lamesa, then it would split into a duel designation utilizing Highway 87 to continue through Big Spring while also branching off to expand into Midland via Highway 349 and then using Highway 158 to expand from Midland to Sterling City where the two routes would reconnect. While MOTRAN feels these are good options, they’re concerned with the duel designation and believe I-27 should have one continuous route.

Another issue with the study is that all viable routes have not been considered, according to MOTRAN. Dustin Fawcett says the impact of different industries like the agricultural production and energy development in and around the Permian Basin have not been thoroughly considered.

According to House Bill 1079, by 2050, the population in Midland-Odessa is expected to increase by more than 700,000 people. This kind of expansion is what MOTRAN would like to prepare for and they believe a larger study is needed to fully understand the best economic impact of the route.

MOTRAN believes that many of the issues that go along with oil and gas production like frac sand and disposed water are unknown variables that need to be included. Fawcett says the way the current study is utilizing and gathering data does not properly account for the impact these complications have on the traffic and economics of the energy industry in the area.

“In a hundred and forty five page study, they get two lines…so this is a Permian Basin wide concern and we are the alliance, it’s MOTRAN Alliance, we are the alliance that’s being tasked with looking at all of the things for these entities to make sure that something as big as you know a hundred billion, a hundred plus billion dollar project of this roadway is looked at correctly.”

MOTRAN is currently working to get the metrics used in TXDOT’s study so they can conduct their own research and compare data. The Alliance is also asking TXDOT to do a more focused study on the route I-27 will have from Lubbock to I-20 because they believe that is the most important segment of the expansion.

“The study is so broad that it doesn’t really highlight the impact, enough, of what Midland-Odessa can bring.” Once MOTRAN has completed their independent study, Dustin Fawcett will break down their findings and the Alliance’s recommendation for a route based on the best impact for the Permian Basin.

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