SAN ANGELO, Texas – The 18th West Texas Legislative Summit took place at Angelo State University on Thursday, August 4th with multiple panels speaking on topics that Texas is facing. Congressman August Pfluger moderated a panel featuring Texas internet, interstate, and infrastructure.

Representatives Trent Ashby, Keith Bell, David Cook, and John Kumepel were joined by Texas Transportation Commission Commissioner Alvin New and CEO of Port of Corpus Christi Sean Strawbridge on internet, interstate, and infrastructure in Texas.

Interstate and road construction was a major topic in the panel at the summit. According to Pfluger, an average of 11.1 deaths happen on roadways in Texas a day with the leading cause being the lack of room to recover from an accident when vehicles leave the roadway.

“We have not had one single day since November of 2000 where a fatality did not take place on the Texas roadway,” shared New.

New also shared that 36% to 45% of the vehicles on West Texas roads and highways are trucks. By constructing four-lane roads like the Ports-to-Plains Interstate 27 corridor and Interstate 14 corridor coming to San Angelo, traveling can be safer for those on the roads.

“The data shows that when you go from a two-lane road, a super two, to a divide four-lane that’s when the game changes,” New explained. “So it’s important for us to be looking for corridors and we are making great progress.”

As funds for the construction of roadways grow to $85 billion for a 10-year tenure plan, the Texas Transportation Commission works on creating safe roads and interstates to connect the state.

“Right now there is $30 billion worth of construction projects underway in the State of Texas,” New said.

New also explained the possibility of a four-lane road connecting San Angelo to Junction and San Antonio to Denver, Colorado to further improve transportation in Texas.

Along with creating better roadways, information on the ports in the Gulf of Mexico was also shared by Ports of Corpus Christi CEO Sean Strawbridge.

According to Strawbridge, 10% of all goods exported from America move through the Houston and Corpus Christi port with $400 billion worth of goods coming through the ports a year.

“Our largest commodity segments are crude oil coming from right here in the Permian and Eagleford,” said Strawbridge.

Natural gas and refined products are also exported from the Ports of Corpus Christi.

“We are certainly important for this region and we are grateful for the hard-working women and men here in West Texas,” Strawbridge explained. “Your work in the agriculture space and in the energy space helps makes us beneficiaries of that and we’ve made significant investments in infrastructure.”

“We are certainly grateful for the support we have from West Texas,” continued Strawberry. “We are certainly connected.”

Since the passage of House Bill 5, fiber-optic cables have been making their way to rural Texas to help connect everyone to the internet. According to Representative Trent Ashby, Texas was one of six states in the last session that did not have a broadband plan for its residents.

“Next session, I’m hopeful we take part of this $27 billion surplus and take the opportunity to put state dollars into the deployment of broadband across the entire state,” shared Ashby. “I think we can come to a point where the internet is no longer a luxury, it is an absolute necessity.”

Since House Bill 5 passed in 2021, $500 million was invested to share broadband across the state along with $5 million to run the Texas Broadband Development Office for the next two years.

“I live just south of Christoval,” New shared. ” I can tell you that I have a net problem now so I look forward to the solution personally as much as anyone else.”