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Sensors to track 'superhighway' cargo from Mexico

Lockheed Martin is working with North America’s SuperCorridor Coalition – the Dallas-based trade association – on a $40 million deal to build high-tech sensors to track cargo remotely along a superhighway stretching from Texas to Canada.

John Mohler, a senior vice president at Lockheed told the “North America Works II” transportation conference last week in Kansas City that 14 sensor locations would be established in the next three months to track specific cargo shipments along the NASCO corridor

The superhighway incorporates Interstates 35, 29 and 94. The sensor locations would include the Mexican port of L?zaro C?rdenas; Laredo, Texas; Kansas City, Mo.; and Winnipeg, Canada.

Containers coming into L?zaro C?rdenas from China and the Far East would conceivably be equipped with these sensors for tracking in trucks and trains along corridors functioning as NAFTA superhighways.

According to an Associated Press report, Mohler told the conference that the full network would cost $40 million and involve 350 to 400 sensor locations along the NASCO corridor, as well as a “command and control center” to monitor information on the tracked shipments, including cargo location, temperature and weight changes.

Kansas City consultant Jim Bergfalk, the president of the TransAm Group, told the conference NASCO and Lockheed are setting up an “electronic backbone” of sensors that would coordinate with groups such as Kansas City SmartPort. WND previously has reported that KC SmartPort is planning to establish a Mexican customs office in Kansas City’s “inland port” complex as part of the I-35 NASCO corridor.

Lockheed Martin and the TransAm Group are both members of NASCO.

Leslie Holoweiko, a spokeswoman for Lockheed Martin, told WND her company is “working with NASCO to propose a cargo tracking system that we think will make our super-corridor highways systems more secure without impeding the flow of commerce.”

Holoweiko confirmed that no contract with NASCO has been signed.

“Currently, we are pursuing a proposal,” she told WND. “Nothing is firm as of yet and we should have more details in the next few months.”

Holoweiko confirmed that senior program manager Mohler was working on the NASCO proposal, but she declined to provide WND any details about Mohler’s job or about the NASCO contract he was developing. When asked to define a super-corridor, Holoweiko also declined. Mohler did not return WND phone calls.

Bergfalk and the TransAm Group show up not only on the program of the North America Works II conference, but also on many other venues involving cooperative business ventures with Mexico. A Kansas City business paper story in November 2004 noted that the TransAm Group led by Bergfalk had traveled to Mexico’s National Week of Science and Technology in Monterrey, Mexico, to pursue the possibility that a Kansas City life sciences company might begin working in Mexico.

The Kansas City Business Journal story also listed George Blackwood as a member of the TransAm Group. Blackwood, an attorney with the Kansas City law firm of Blackwood, Langworthy & Tyson, is also on the board of directors of NASCO.

However, the TransAm Group does not have a Kansas City telephone listing. Bergfalk, the president of the TransAm Group, takes his telephone calls at the office of SGB Communications, a public relations office that Bergfalk shares with Scott Burnett, the only other person listed on the website as a member of SGB. Burnett is credited on the SGB website as being “an elected legislator of Jackson County, Missouri.”

Tiffany Melvin, the executive director of NASCO, confirmed NASCO was pursuing a sensor contract with Lockheed, telling WND that the proposal “is a great opportunity for improving the efficiency and security of cargo as it moves along highways and rail.”

Melvin told WND that NASCO was in the process of completing the contract with Lockheed. She also confirmed Bergfalk was being hired by NASCO to be the president of the International Mid-Continent Trade and Transportation Corridor Association, a new non-profit organization NASCO is forming to administer the Lockheed contract.

According to the AP report, Lockheed’s Mohler told last week’s Kansas City conference Lockheed planned to contribute $5 million of the $7 million needed to complete the pilot-project phase of the sensor project.

Lockheed and NASCO declined to tell WND how they planned to fund the $40 million required to build out the full sensor system. Lockheed and NASCO also declined to say who would own the system once it is completed.

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