Calhoun: Wake-Up Call

Ports-to-Plains: Keep on Truckin'

"Mexican Trucks Stampede to U.S.!" Web sites and radio shows are full of talk today about the Mexican truckers who will soon -- perhaps even today -- cross the border into Texas in a Bush-sanctioned trade deal. This talk describes the Mexican truck deal as the camel's nose under the tent for terrorists, and the end of any kind of border enforcement.

But out in eastern Colorado, the "Ports-to-Plains Trade Corridor" is seen as the best, perhaps last hope of trickling some kind of economic vitality into the dry, dusty plains.

I first heard of Ports-to-Plains at the end of April, on a road trip to southeastern Colorado. The words kept showing up in those little tourism brochures boosting such "off-the-beaten path" amenities as the Kiowa HealthMart in Eads and the Doll Hut in Kit Carson. And at the back of the "Discover Southeast Colorado" guide hyping the "Emerald of the Plains." a full page ad was devoted to Lamar, the New Crossroads of America, where U.S. highways 50 and 385 intersect: "Centrally located on the Ports-to-Plains High Priority Corridor...Lamar is within ten road hours of the following major cities: Dallas, Kansas City, Omaha, Oklahoma City, Salt Lake City, Wichita, Denver, Albuquerque,Cheyenne, Rapid City."

It didn't sound like a terrorist's road map to global victory, but it didn't sound like much of an economic plan, either. Rapid City? So I stopped by Lamar's visitor center, located in the old railroad depot, to ask about the Ports-to-Plains Trade Corrridor.

The what? The volunteers there had no idea what I was talking about. But I'll bet they do today. -- Patricia Calhoun

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Patricia Calhoun co-founded Westword in 1977; she’s been the editor ever since. She’s a regular on the weekly CPT12 roundtable Colorado Inside Out, played a real journalist in John Sayles’s Silver City, once interviewed President Bill Clinton while wearing flip-flops, and has been honored with numerous national awards for her columns and feature-writing.
Contact: Patricia Calhoun