The fight to fund road projects in West Texas is a never-ending battle, but Midland-Odessa Transportation Alliance (MOTRAN) President James Beauchamp offered Midlanders news from the front lines Tuesday.
Speaking at the Petroleum Museum Brown Bag Lunch and Lecture Series, Beauchamp offered updates on existing projects, insights into forthcoming projects and shared what he considers the biggest issues facing West Texas transportation.
The following are highlights of Beauchamp’s MOTRAN update:
NEW DPS CENTER
Midlanders and Odessans long have struggled with long wait times at their respective Department of Public Safety offices to handle driver’s license issues. Beauchamp said plans are in the works to merge the Midland and Odessa facilities and that the new “mega-center” will be located somewhere between the cities.
Beauchamp said the new facility will have more lines than the current two centers combined and that six additional workers will be hired. The mega-center will allow residents to make appointments by smartphone. Participants will receive appointment notices on their phones, eliminating the need to wait extended periods of time at the facility.
The mega-center also will have greater accommodations for CDL testing.
Beauchamp said bids and proposals have been taken and that a decision will be made shortly.
DPS public information officer Trooper Justin Baker was unable to confirm the decision to merge the centers into a mega-center nor add any details by press time.
MEXICO AND NATURAL GAS
The grandest project is the continued work on La Entrada al Pacifico, a “state and federally designated trade corridor from Texas to Chihuahua City, Chihuahua, Mexico, and continuing to the Mexican Pacific port of Topolobampo in the Mexican state of Sinaloa,” according to a description on the MOTRAN website.
Beauchamp said this trade route to the Pacific Ocean, combined with international pipeline projects, will be critical to the Mexican and Midland-Odessa economies by opening opportunities to sell and export natural gas.
Here in oil country, natural gas is an afterthought because of the limited market for the resource. “But in Mexico, we have opportunities,” he said. “No. 1, they are converting their power plants in Mexico to natural gas. That will be completed in late 2017 to 2018. So, that’s a tremendous natural gas market for us.”