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Anti-'superhighway' bill prompts backlash
Posted By Jerome R. Corsi On 05/08/2007 @ 1:00 am In Front Page | Comments Disabled
Oklahoma state Sen. Randy Brogdon
The director of North America’s SuperCorridor Coalition has gone to war against an Oklahoma state legislator, trying to distance the tri-national group from any identification with a new “NAFTA Superhighway” or any movement to evolve NAFTA into a North American Union.
The conflict began when Republican Oklahoma state Sen. Randy Brogdon entered an amendment to an Oklahoma bill (HB 1819) requiring the state’s Department of Transportation “shall be prohibited from participating or entering any negotiations or agreement with NASCO.”
Brogdon’s amendment further specified, “No state funds or federal funds dedicated for state use, shall be used for any international, integrated, or multi-modal transportation system.”
Brogdon also has sponsored Senate Concurrent Resolution 10, an Oklahoma legislature resolution urging the U.S. to withdraw from the Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America and any other activity that seeks to create a North American Union, and to oppose any NAFTA superhighways.
Senate Concurrent Resolution 10 has passed the Oklahoma Senate and is now before the Oklahoma House.
Industry sources tell WND that NASCO Executive Director Tiffany Melvin is traveling to Oklahoma to argue her case directly with Oklahoma legislators, opposing both Brogdon-introduced measures.
HB 1819 appears designed to promote ODOT’s increased involvement in the “Ports-to-Plains Corridor,” a four-state NAFTA superhighway corridor stretching from Laredo, Texas, across Oklahoma and New Mexico to Denver.
Yet HB1819 is loosely written, suggesting ODOT will enter one or more memoranda of understanding with the U.S. Department of Transportation to implement a pilot project under the auspices of the Federal Highway Administration.
The Ports-to-Plains Corridor Coalition, a trade association headquartered in Lubbock, Texas, describes the project as a “planned, multimodal transportation corridor including a multi-lane divided highway that will facilitate the efficient transportation of goods and services from Mexico, through West Texas, New Mexico, Colorado, and Oklahoma, and ultimately on into Canada and the Pacific Northwest.”
According to a Ports-to-Plains Corridor website maintained by the Colorado Department of Transportation, the current goal is to obtain federal funding for development of the corridor.
A press release on the Texas Department of Transportation website confirms the agency is looking for a public-private-partnership to help finance the construction of the Ports-to-Plains Corridor.
NASCO attacks critics
Prior to her trip to Oklahoma, Melvin sent sympathetic state legislatures position papers attacking NASCO critics.
One such NASCO position paper, entitled “NASCO and Oklahoma” charged:
In recent months a few poorly informed and conspiracy-minded groups have falsely alleged NASCO’s efforts to enhance business and trade in North America include such aims as the promotion and/or construction of ‘a NAFTA superhighway,’ that would undermine U.S. national sovereignty, promote illegal immigration and harm the U.S. economy. Nothing could be farther from the truth.
The position paper continued to name the Arizona-based Minuteman Civil Defense Corps and the “ultra-right-wing” John Birch Society as attempting to convince the public that “there exists a genuine, active governmental conspiracy to merge the sovereign nations of Mexico, the United States and Canada into a North American Union.”
A NASCO position paper entitled, “Who we are, what we stand for, and why the fervent devotion to transportation efficiency,” claims: “In actual fact, there are no plans to build a ‘new NAFTA Superhighway.’ It already exists today as I-35 and branches.”
WND has obtained a copy of an internal memo written by Melvin July 21, 2006. The document was obtained as part of an Oklahoma open records request.
In the memo, Melvin advises repositioning of NASCO’s “talking points,” suggesting they support only existing transportation systems.
Melvin stressed: “We have to stay away from ‘Super-Corridor’ because it is a very bad, hot button right now.”
‘Corridor of the Future’
In an internal memo written Sept. 21, 2006, Melvin announced NASCO’s intention of submitting a proposal to the “Corridors of the Future” grant competition sponsored by the U.S. Department of Transportation.
Here Melvin wrote: “We are THE Corridor of the Future. With all that is going on along this corridor (I-35), we MUST receive this designation.”
The final proposal NASCO submitted in the DOT “Corridor of the Future” competition focused on NAFTRACS, a NASCO project to further develop the I-35 corridor with a new system of RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) sensors designed to monitor and track international trade containers.
As WND previously reported, Lockheed Martin has engaged with NASCO in the NAFTRACS (North American Facilitation of Transportation, Trade, Reduced Congestion and Security) project to place cargo monitoring sensors along the NAFTA superhighway from Mexico to Canada.
WND also reported the Chinese firm Hutchison Port Holdings was involved as a joint venture partner with Savi Technology, the Lockheed Martin subsidiary contracted to implement NAFTRACS for NASCO.
NASCO’s application was not accepted as a semi-finalist in the DOT “Corridor of the Future” competition.
DOT spokesmen consistently have refused to provide WND any explanation why NASCO’s application was denied.
Also documenting NASCO’s determination to expand the I-35 corridor is an internal e-mail from Dawn Sullivan at ODOT to Melvin, dated Nov. 25, 2006.
In the e-mail, Sullivan asks Melvin the following question: “Have you guys sent out an RFP (Request for Proposal) for a study to look at expanding the Trans Texas Corridor into OK?”
WND repeatedly has reported the Federal Highway Administration is promoting public-private partnership projects to bring private capital to expanding superhighway projects, consistent with extending TTC-35 north into Oklahoma.
NASCO consistently has refused to accept repeated challenges to repudiate plans by the Texas Department of Transportation, a NASCO member, to build parallel to Interstate 35 a new Trans-Texas Corridor project, TTC-35, expected to be a four-football-fields-wide automobile-truck-train-pipeline corridor stretching from Laredo, Texas, to the Oklahoma border.
The Ports-to-Plains Corridor was identified as one of 43 “High Priority Corridors” in the Transportation Equity Act of the 21st Century.
According to AARoads.com, the route of the Ports-to-Plains Corridor was defined by two subsequent bills. The 2001 Transportation Department Appropriations Act authorized the routing of the corridor through Texas. A separate bill relating solely to the routing of this corridor was signed October 30, 2002. The second law provided the precise routing of the Ports-to-Plains Corridor through Oklahoma, New Mexico and Colorado.
In June 2001, Wilbur Smith Associates, a long-term consultant to the Oklahoma Department of Transportation, prepared a Ports-to-Plains Corridor “Feasibility Study,” for the Departments of Transportation in the states of Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico and Colorado.
WND reported the ties between Texas representative Michael Krusee, a prime mover of the TTC projects in the Texas legislature, and Wilbur Smith Associates.
WND also reported Wilbur Smith Associates successfully shepherded a proposal to the Phase 2 level in the U.S. DOT Corridors of the Future competition. The Wilbur Smith proposal involves building a new cross-country toll road along the Interstate 10 right-of-way.
WND has identified NASCO as promoting a NAFTA Superhighway extending from Mexico to Canada, primarily along the Interstate 10 route, maintaining NASCO actively seeks to develop this route with new projects, including the Trans-Texas Corridor.
“NASCO News” reported on the National RFID Center website in July 2006 that NASCO President George Blackwood and Melvin traveled to the Port of Manzanillo, Mexico, for the first meeting of the NASCO Mexico committee.
NASCO’s meeting in Mexico included more than 25 representatives from the public and private sectors and “inland ports” in Mexico, representing the states of Colima, Michoac?n, Jalisco, Nuevo Leon, San Luis Potosi, Hidalgo and Aguas Calientes.
The goal of NASCO’s July 2006 meeting in Mexico was “to promote multimodal infrastructure in Mexico and strengthen North American competitiveness in Mexico.”
WND reported U.S. DOT Undersecretary Jeffrey Shane was severely criticized when he testified to Congress recently that NAFTA Superhighways were an “urban legend.”
Also, DOT Secretary Norman Y. Mineta gave a April 30, 2004, speech at a NASCO forum in Fort Worth, Texas, in which he referred to Interstate Highways 35, 29, and 94 – the core highways supported by NASCO – as a “vital artery in our national transportation through which so much of our NAFTA traffic flows.”
WND has reported 12 state legislatures already have passed anti-SPP, anti-NAU, anti-NAFTA Superhighway resolutions, with the number expected to grow.
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