Posted on October 6, 2020
By Bob Campbell firstname.lastname@example.org
The Texas Transportation Commission has OK’d the Permian Basin Metropolitan Planning Organization’s 10-year plan including the $340.2 million widening of Interstate 20 from four to six lanes over 18 miles from east of JBS Parkway in Odessa to east of Texas 349, the Rankin Highway, in Midland between 2025 and ‘30.
The I-20 project is funded and will happen, says PBMPO Executive Director Cameron Walker, while state and federal backing is hoped for in a host of other ambitious tasks.
Financed by the Federal Highway Administration and Federal Transit Administration through the Texas Department of Transportation, Walker said, “The MPO has committed $18.3 million for I-20 and TxDOT $321.9 million.
“Other important projects financially supported by the MPO but only partially funded in fiscal 2021 are the widening of I-20 from west of FM 1936 to JBS Parkway here and from 349 to FM 1208 near the Martin County line and an upgrade to freeway section on Northeast Loop 338 from U.S. 385 to East Yukon Road in Odessa.”
Walker said new interchanges at Loop 250 and Todd Road in Midland and East Loop 338 and 52nd-56th streets here will probably go forward in 2022.
More work scheduled for construction from 2021-24 are new interchanges at U.S. 385 and South Loop 338 and on Yukon at the East Loop and Highway 191 in Odessa, he said.
Midland’s I-20-Midkiff interchange will be rebuilt, ramp work will continue at Highway 158 and Loop 250 in Midland and the traffic signals will be upgraded at Yukon and the West Loop in Odessa, Walker said, adding that the Odessa and Midland Development corporations are contributing $8 million and $6 million, respectively, toward the overall Unified Transportation Program.
“The UTP is a listing of projects and programs that are planned to be developed or constructed within the first 10 years of the 24-year State Long Range Transportation Plan,” Walker said. “Project development includes activities such as preliminary engineering work, environmental analysis, right-of-way acquisition and design.”
Midland attorney and City Councilman Jack Ladd Jr. is vice chair of the PBMPO board, which also includes Ector County Judge Debi Hays as chair, Midland County Commissioner Robin Donnelly, Odessa City Councilman Tom Sprawls, Martin County Judge Bryan Cox of Stanton, TxDOT District Engineer John Speed and EZ-Rider General Manager Doug Provance.
The group ordinarily meets at its headquarters at 9601 Wright Dr. in the Midland International Air & Space Port complex, although the pandemic has forced it to convene by Zoom during the seven months Ladd has been on the panel. “This plan is way past due and I’m very glad we have it,” Ladd said.
“It took a lot of hard work by people in Midland and Odessa and I’m thrilled that we received the funding to widen I-20. It was desperately needed and it shows what we can accomplish when we work together. This massive undertaking, which will benefit our two communities for a generation, was the result of very smart leveraging of local funds to get state and federal funding.”
Asked if highway money is hard to come by in West Texas, he said, “We have a greater challenge than Houston and the large metro areas, but we have better leadership.
“That’s why we get what we get. Judge Hays makes it a team atmosphere where everyone is welcome to express our ideas.”
Ladd said the help of Walker and Midland-Odessa Transportation Alliance President James Beauchamp was also indispensable.
The PBMPO is responsible for parts of Martin, Midland and Ector counties and the cities of Odessa and Midland.
Bob Campbell is a reporter for the Odessa American covering Religion and Lifestyle in the Permian Basin.