The Ports-to-Plains Alliance is an group of communities and businesses working to advocate for transportation infrastructure to promote economic security and prosperity throughout North America, and Williston was once again chosen to host the coalition’s annual conference.
The Alliance is based in Lubbock, Texas, and is a non-profit, bipartisan, advocacy group led by city officials and business leaders from North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, Texas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Colorado, Nebraska and Wyoming, plus Alberta and Saskatchewan in Canada and a developing corridor connecting central Mexico. The Ports-to-Plains region services a 2,300 mile economic development corridor of existing highways stretching from the port at Mazatlán, Mexico to northern Alberta.
The conference was last in Williston in 2014, and will be returning to the Old Armory from Oct. 15 to 17. Agenda highlights for the conference include “Freight Not Turning Back,” a panel to explore the status of freight in the Ports-to-Plains Region for permitting and new technology, “Energy Wheels Forward,” a panel to discuss the connection between the transportation system and energy production, “Progress Through Transportation Re-authorization,” featuring speaker Jack Schenendorf, Federal Consultant with Covington & Burling and “Progress With a Wide Perspective,” with speaker Brad Bekkedahl, North Dakota State Senator, Williston City Commissioner and Ports-to-Plains Board Member.
According to the Alliance, over the past 15 years, the Ports-to-Plains members have seen almost $3.61 billion in federal and state funding for road improvements, which includes the four-laning of Highway 85 from Williston to Watford City.
The next phase of that project is the replacement of the Long X Bridge south of Watford City, and the eventual four-laning of the remainder if Highway 85 across the state.