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LU hosts TEX-21 meeting on ports, transportation excellence

TEX-21 meetingLamar University hosted about 50 governmental and business leaders in a regional meeting of Transportation Excellence for the 21st Century (TEX-21), October 13-14, in the Montagne Center.

The group, whose motto is “Better Mobility Through Better Policy,” also toured ports in Beaumont, Port Arthur and the Sabine-Neches Navigation District.

After being welcomed to the campus by Lamar University President Ken Evans and Provost James Marquart, Port Arthur Mayor Derrick Freeman and Jefferson County Judge Jeff Branick welcomed the group to the regional meeting that focused primarily on ports and the proposed U.S. 287 upgrade from highway to Interstate.

After Chris Fisher, director of the Port of Beaumont, spoke on “Seaports: Texas’ Secrete Economic Powerhouse,” Erik Stromberg, inaugural executive director of LU’s Center for Advances in Port Management, gave a report on the Center.

Stromberg gave an overview of the industry, including the critical public policy topics of waterside and landside access to ports and marine terminals.

“The first and last mile to and from the port quite often determines the efficiency of the entire supply chain,” Stromberg said. “Ports can have highly efficient operations loading and discharging cargo from ocean-going vessels, but if highways outside the terminal gate are congested that efficiency is essentially wasted from a supply chain perspective. And, for shippers, from agricultural exporters to big-box retail store importers, a well-functioning supply chain generates the service and cost factors they need to be competitive.”

TEX-21 meetingStromberg also discussed the Center, and its twin education and research missions. While, the Center’s flagship offering, the Masters Degree in Port and Marine Terminal Management, is pending formal approval from the State, the Center is working with the College of Business to offer an MBA degree with a concentration in port management. The Center also has coordinated with the College of Engineering to offer a Masters of Engineering Management with a concentration in port management. In addition the Center offers three certificates in port management, with one, “Ports, Trade and Global Logistics,” of potential strong interest to State DOT and Metropolitan Planning Organization personnel.

The group heard from Congressman Brian Babin, Rep. District 36, as well as state representatives James White, Dade Phelan, Drew Springer, Joe Deshotel, and Allen Fletcher.

Also much discussed was the anticipated impact of the Panama Canal expansion on Texas Ports. The expansion has already added more than $80 million in new business since its June 26, 2016 opening by allowing the transit of 165 large vessels, according to Jorge Quijano, administrator of the Panama Canal Authority and a Lamar University alumnus.

TEX-21 represents a diversity of membership from across the State of Texas, Oklahoma and Arkansas on multi-modal transportation and infrastructure policy. TEX-21 advocates for the needs of both rural and urban communities through its Congressional and Legislative Program. The TEX-21 Legislative Program is a collection of the transportation priorities supported by TEX-21 as an organization in order to optimize solutions for the multi-modal transportation system of Texas.

Formed in 2001 during the 2ndAnnual Transportation and Infrastructure Summit, cities, counties, public transportation agencies and private entities have joined TEX-21 to communicate their needs as “One Voice” regarding the continual challenges in the multi-state region and across the nation.

TEX-21 has grown to include numerous member cities, counties, transit and port authorities, international trade corridors, universities and other industry leaders, and with new members in Arkansas and Oklahoma, a growing portion of those states as well.

For more information on LU’s Center for Advances in Port Management, visit www.lamar.edu/engineering/research/center-for-advances-in-port-management.