The Ports-to-Plains Economic Impact Study examined a segment of the international Ports-to-Plains Trade Corridor (US Highway 87/64) in northeast New Mexico and the potential effects on the local communities (Union County, Town of Clayton, Colfax County, City of Raton) of designating the route as an Interstate Highway. This study reflected a broader effort to establish the entirety of the Ports-to-Plains High Priority Corridor as part of the Interstate Highway System from Canada to Mexico. It was conducted on behalf of the Eastern Plains Council of Governments (EPCOG) for use by the New Mexico Department of Transportation (NMDOT).
In order to address the impacts of an Interstate Highway designation on this region, the study involved conducting research and analysis on northeast New Mexico’s primary industries, economic development opportunities, existing transportation and mobility conditions, and the existing physical infrastructure of the route. A series of stakeholder interviews were conducted with representatives from the energy, tourism, and agriculture industries to ascertain their opinions on the potential impact of the Interstate Highway designation. The study included the following elements:
∙ Economic development impacts of the Interstate Highway designation on northeast New Mexico with an emphasis on employment projections;
∙ Analysis of the current conditions and future trends for the agriculture, energy, and tourism industries in northeast New Mexico;
∙ Evaluation of existing physical infrastructure conditions along the route and identification of the requirements, costs, and impacts of an Interstate Highway designation;
∙ Analysis of the route’s existing traffic and freight movement patterns, and generation of future projections relevant to assessing the effects of an Interstate Highway designation; and
∙ Stakeholder interviews and analysis to identify qualitative perspectives on the potential impacts of the Interstate Highway designation.
Subsequent to completing the study, President Biden signed the FY2022 Omnibus Appropriations legislation on March 15, 2022. This legislation included the designation of the entire Ports-to-Plains Corridor in Texas and New Mexico as a future Interstate Highway. The Ports-to-Plains Alliance and its partners continue efforts to obtain highway construction funding for both the future Interstate and expansion to four-lanes along the entire corridor.