According to who is talking, there is or isn’t a superhighway in the works to extend from Mexico into Canada to bring Chinese goods into the U.S. through ports in Mexico. The Bush Administration denies the plans but here and on the proceeding pages, analysts and commentators Jerome Corsi and Bill Hawkins take a look at a strategy that they claim is clearly in the works … and what this means to American business.
Quietly the Bush administra-tion continues to advance plans to build a new transportation infrastructure of NAFTA Superhighways, largely financed by foreign investment interests, all aimed at bringing a tsunami of containers from China into the United States, predominately via the cheaper Mexican ports on the Pacific Ocean, such as Manzanillo and Lázaro Cárdenas.
Despite President Bush’s protestations at the third summit meeting of the Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America (SPP) in Montebello, Quebec, on Aug. 21 that no plans exist to build NAFTA superhighways evidence to the contrary abounds, much of it on government Web sites.
Plans are being made in Colorado and Oklahoma to extend north the Trans-Texas Corridor, now that Governor Perry has vetoed laws overwhelmingly passed by the state legislature designed to block construction on TTC-35, the new Trans-Texas Corridor parallel to Interstate 35.
These developments mark the expansion of a Federal Highway Administration plan to encourage states to engage in public-private partnerships (PPP) to lease existing toll roads or develop new toll roads in conjunction with private investment consortia, including foreign investment interests.
An entire section has been added to the Federal Highway Administration’s Web site (www.fhwa.dot.gov/PPP/) teaching states how to change their laws to PPP structures so they can get in on the action. So far, 21 states and one territory have passed statutes that enable the use of PPP approaches for the development of their transportation infrastructure.
While public opposition is mounting, politicians appear determined to proceed with super-corridor plans, even if proceeding involves vetoing bills overwhelmingly passed by state legislatures to block the private toll road initiatives.
TTC-35 is the new car-truck-train-pipeline multi-modal super-corridor that the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) plans to build parallel to Interstate 35, from Laredo, Texas, past San Antonio, Austin, and Dallas, to the Texas border
Fully documented on the TxDOT Web site, ( www.keeptexasmoving.com) TTC-35 is financed by the Spanish investment consortium Cintra Concesiones de Infra-estructuras de Transporte, S.A. In return, Cintra will operate the TTC-35 corridor and collect all tolls or other user fees for 50 years following the completion of construction.
As the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) clearly states: what TxDOT envisions for TTC construction is a new super-corridor designed to include “all of the transportation modal facilities occurring within a single 1,200-foot wide right-of-way.” An artist’s conception on page four of the TxDOT TTC-35 EIS leaves no doubt, portraying the 1,200-foot-wide super-corridor at full build-out, consisting of three lanes for passenger cars and three lanes for trucks both north and south, plus separate rights of way for freight and passenger cars, plus a utility zone for water, oil, and natural gas pipelines.
In Texas, public opposition to the TTC project, as expressed in several laws passed overwhelmingly by the legislature, failed to block the new super-corridor project.
The final legal barriers to TTC construction appear to have been overcome when Republican Governor Rick Perry vetoed on Friday, June 15, House Bill 2006, a reform to eminent domain that would have made prohibitively expensive the acquisition of the thousands of acres of private land needed to construct the new super-corridor. A month earlier, on May 18, Perry vetoed House Bill No. 1892, a measure that would have imposed a two-year moratorium on beginning the construction of TTC-35. The Texas legislature is now in recess, not scheduled to resume a new session for another two years.
Once the Texas legislature’s legal objections to the TTC were cleared by gubernatorial veto, investment bankers moved anxiously to extend the TTC plan north incrementally, state-by-state.
More corridors in the works?
Elected officials who are advocates of public-private-partnership highway projects are now actively advocating TTC-like plans in Oklahoma.
Oklahoma House Speaker Republican Lance Cargill invited Robert Poole, a prominent PPP-advocate, to speak in Tulsa and Oklahoma City on June 13. Poole, the head of the Reason Foundation, is a mechanical engineer who has advised the administrations of George H. W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and George W. Bush to privatize U.S. highways. Poole now estimates that more than $25 billion in PPP highway infrastructure projects are planned or approved in the United States.
At a “Great Plans 2007” conference at the Adam’s Mark Hotel in September, the Ports-to-Plains Trade Corridor Coalition unrolled plans to build a rural version of the TTC north from Laredo, Texas, through Amarillo, Texas, through the panhandle of Oklahoma, into Colorado, entering Denver at Limon, parallel to the route of Interstate 70. A TxDOT study on the Ports-to-Plains Trade Corridor Coalition Web site leaves no doubt that the trade association advocates using the 1,200-foot wide super-corridor design proposed by TxDOT for TTC construction.
Denver can now be added along with San Antonio and Kansas City to the growing list of U.S. cities self-declaring to be “inland ports.” Yet, for each of these cities, where is the water and where are the ports? The water is the Pacific Ocean and the ports are on the west coast of Mexico, south of Texas.
“Two Worlds … One Route,” a brochure on the Web site of Kansas City’s SmartPort, portrays with an opening graphic the ultimate goal to bring containers from the Far East and China into Mexican ports, such as Lázaro Cárdenas. A panel on the left of the graphic identifies four cities in the Far East – Tokyo, Bussan, Hong Kong, and Singapore – connected with a red line to the right panel, where the red lines enter North America at Lázaro Cárdenas. From there the red lines extend up along the TTC-35 route through Texas, where they terminate in Kansas City.
KC SmartPort is a non-profit economic development organization dedicated to promoting Kansas City as “America’s Inland Port Solution.” The KC SmartPort Web site boasts that the city’s location in “the heart of America” is “at the hub of the transcontinental and NAFTA trade corridors.” The organization’s logo makes the same claim: “KC SmartPort – America’s Inland Port Solution.”
At a cost of $3 million to the U.S. taxpayers in Kansas City, the SmartPort has sold the town council on the idea of establishing a Mexican customs office in the heart of the city, even if the facility ends up being Mexican sovereign soil.
Why the excitement over these largely unnoticed Mexican ports? The answer is obvious: Mexican ports are cheap. In addition, these ports are managed by the Chinese firm Hutchison Ports Holding and the Chinese are pouring billions into developing Manzanillo and Lázaro Cárdenas into world-class deep-water ports capable of handling the new generation of container mega-ships being built to transport Chinese containers in North America cheaply.
A quick look at the 470 football-size container island that Shanghai is building in the East China Sea should dispel any misconceptions the U.S. public has that we will be inundated with millions of containers from China in the next few decades, if U.S. multinational corporations continue to dictate the North Administration integration agenda being advanced behind closed doors by trilateral bureaucratic working groups under the auspices of SPP.
A series of one-way trade agreements with China, falsely sold to a gullible U.S. public under the banner of “free trade,” has allowed U.S. multi-national corporations to exploit Chinese near-slave labor, bring the cost of labor down to as close to zero as possible. Now the plan is get as close to zero as possible the cost of transporting into North America the Chinese containers of cheap, and largely defective, Chinese near-slave goods.
This can be accomplished by unloading the Chinese mega-ship containers with Mexican dock workers and to move the inter-modal containers into the United States in Mexican trains and Mexican trucks, avoiding union labor altogether and obviating the need for costly U.S. transportation workers.
To complete the plan, Governor Perry has begun making a series of pilgrimages to Mexico, proudly proclaiming that building a fence would be “idiocy.” Openly reported, but only in Spanish on the state government Web site in the Mexican border state of Nuevo León, Governor José Natividad Gonzáles Parás has now declared to Perry that TTC-35 will be extended across the border south to the Mexican ports on the Pacific via Monterrey, in a road Gonzáles Parás declared Mexico will call the “Trans North American Corridor.”
Now, even Canada wants to get into the act. Canada’s new National Policy for Strategic Gateways and Trade Corridors recently announced by Transport Canada, the Canadian equivalent of the U.S. Department of Transportation, has announced plans to develop Vancouver and Prince Rupert ports in British Columbia as deep-water ports on the Pacific.
Under the Asia-Pacific Gateway and Corridor Initiative, Transport Canada has committed $1 billion to develop “a network of transportation infrastructure including British Columbia’s Lower Mainland and Prince Rupert ports, their principal road and rail connections stretching across Western Canada and south (to) the United States, key border crossings and major Canadian airports.” Under the Ontario-Quebec Continental Gateway and Trade Corridor Initiative, also a part of Canada’s new transportation policy, Ontario and Quebec have signed a memorandum of understanding to develop a “Continental Gateway and Trade Corridor” between Montreal and Toronto, with key a key element of PPP private financing.
All that is needed to see the newly emerging NAFTA Superhighway infrastructure is to connect the dots between these various initiatives, something the Bush administration hopes to discourage by denying the plan. Ironically, the Bush administration denials end up ridiculing as “conspiracy theorists” those of us who care to take the time to read what these various governments themselves are publishing as official transportation policy. We continue to charge that the government Web sites are correct and the secrecy shrouding SPP is symptomatic of the Bush administration and the president’s determination to merge with Mexico and Canada as fast as possible, regardless how loudly the American public or Congress objects.
Jerome R. Corsi is a staff reporter for WorldNetDaily. He received a Ph.D. from Harvard University in political science in 1972 and has written many books and articles, including his latest best-seller, The Late Great USA.