Posted on October 6, 2020
$25 million for I-20 interchange was the third straight year for a Permian Basin project to be funded.
The $25 million in federal funding announced for an Interstate 20 interchange in Midland County will help leverage hundreds of millions in existing state and local investment for the rebuild of I-20.
That is what Midland-Odessa Transportation Alliance President James Beauchamp said this past week after the United States Department of Transportation awarded $25 million toward an Interstate-20 “Energy Sector Safety Project” – an overpass at the intersection of Cotton Flat Road and Interstate 20.
The funding is awarded through the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development (BUILD) grant program.
MOTRAN also reported that the I-20/Cotton Flat interchange was the third project in three years in the Permian Basin that has been awarded such funding — the first two being an overpass project in Winkler County at the intersection of State Highway 302 and State Highway 115 and an overpass project in Glasscock County at the intersection of State Highway 137 and State Highway 158.
Also, the Texas Transportation Commission approved more than $600 million more funding for improvements in the Unified Transportation Program for the Permian Basin in 2019. That amount included more than $240 million for I-20 improvements.
In April, officials with the Odessa district of the Texas Department of Transportation explained their I-20 projects that cover a decade and require more than $830 million in funding. Project highlights include interstate expansion to three lanes each way, having one-way frontage roads, improving locations for entrance and exit ramps, new interchanges and underpasses converted to overpasses at eight locations.
At that time, funding had reached around $433 million. Odessa District engineer John Speed told the Reporter-Telegram the extra lanes and improved circulation of traffic will be a benefit as volumes at peak locations in Midland reach 70,000 vehicles per day (about a quarter are “heavy trucks”).
“Interstate 20 plays a tremendous role in freight movement in the region for the energy sector and is a critical connection between Midland and Odessa,” Beauchamp said.
Beauchamp, like PSP officials last week, thanked elected officials from Midland and Odessa, including state Rep. Tom Craddick, Midland Mayor Patrick Payton, Councilwoman Lori Blong, Councilman Jack Ladd and Midland County Commissioner Robin Donnelly for lending their voices to the effort to contact federal officials about the need in the Permian Basin. Beauchamp also included letters from officials sent directly to Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao.https://78fbddb8a77ca157a90306ee2b1ac6ed.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-37/html/container.html
Inside many of those letters, it was mentioned that Midland-Odessa was the No. 5 top producing MSA for GDP in Texas in 2018 and that Midland, Ector and Reeves counties all rank in the top 25 in Texas for GDP levels.
“In fact, Reeves County, which ranks 21st, produced more GDP than Lubbock,” it was written in letters to Chao. “That means that Reeves County, with a population of less than 16,000 out-produces Lubbock, a county with over 310,000 in population and serves as the seat of one of the top-4 university systems in Texas.”
Another reason listed for the need for more funding in letters was that the Permian Basin accounts for 10 percent of Texas’ economy and 30 percent of all national oil and gas production.
“The latest industry projections show growth in the area doubling by 2023 and yielding 60 percent of net global output in this timeframe,” it was written. “Completion of the projects in TxDOT’s applications is clearly critical to ensure Texas can continue to keep up with demand and efficiently provide energy resources to all Americans.”