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From the Statesman

Trans-Texas Corridor

Trans-Texas Corridor name dies, but not entire concept

Work will continue on I-35, I-69 pieces of original plan of cross-state tollways, railways and utility lines, officials say.


AMERICAN-STATESMAN STAFF
Wednesday, January 07, 2009

The Trans-Texas Corridor, as a name and as a guiding concept of the state’s transportation future, is dead, Texas Department of Transportation Executive Director Amadeo Saenz told an audience of more than a thousand people Tuesday at an Austin hotel. But Saenz acknowledged that all elements of the original plan, including a tollway twin to Interstate 35, could be built as stand-alone projects if and when they are deemed necessary.

Gov. Rick Perry in 2002 unveiled with great fanfare the corridor plan as an almost $200 billion blueprint for the state’s transportation future and then took withering criticism for it in a tough 2006 re-election race. On Tuesday, he said, “The days of the Trans-Texas Corridor are over.”

Critics of the corridor plan and TxDOT officials differed Tuesday over whether the body is truly cold and what would constitute the death of the proposed network of cross-state tollways, railways and utility lines. Planning and environmental studies of the twin to I-35, which would run from San Antonio to Oklahoma, and of I-69 , from Brownsville to Texarkana, will not stop, officials said.

And Perry, talking to reporters while in Iraq on a brief visit to Texas troops there, said, “We really don’t care what name they attach to building infrastructure in the state of Texas. The key is we have to go forward and build it.”

Asked if the announcement means that private toll road contracts, which have been central to the two corridor ventures under way to date, are a thing of the past in Texas, Perry said no: “We’ll continue to use all the tools available to build infrastructure.”

So, is a name change really all that occurred Tuesday?

“That’s basically it,” Saenz said. “The connotation of the name was that we were going to build all these elements (roads, rail and utilities) in one footprint.”

By all accounts, the 1,200-foot-wide conglomeration of side-by-side projects, captured in a TxDOT rendering in 2002 that helped set off alarms around the state, won’t be happening.

Saenz’s surprise pronouncement of last rites came a week before legislators gather for a session during which they must decide whether to allow TxDOT to continue pursuing long-term toll road leases with private companies — and just over a year before Perry is likely to face a GOP gubernatorial primary against U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison.

A Hutchison spokesman said the problem wasn’t the Trans-Texas Corridor name but rather the tollways associated with it and the fields and pastures that would be consumed to build them.

“When citizens pointed out the flaws in his original corridor idea, specifically trampling private property rights, the Perry administration responded with condescension and arrogance,” said Todd Olsen, an Austin-based spokesman for Hutchison’s gubernatorial exploratory committee. “It wasn’t about a name.”

Perry spokesman Mark Miner said, “If the senator hadn’t been asleep at the wheel for the last 15 years and saw that Texas got its fair share of federal tax dollars, we wouldn’t need to look for alternative ways to fund Texas roads.”

Whatever projects emerge from the remains of the corridors — TxDOT is still using that portion of the original term, at least — would be no more than 600 feet wide.

Several years ago, TxDOT officials conceded that much of the plan, particularly its West Texas pieces, would not be needed until far in the future, if ever. And the Trans-Texas Corridor idea all along generated fierce opposition, including from some Perry allies like the Texas Farm Bureau that objected to the large amounts of farm and ranch land that would be lost.

David Stall of Fayette County, southeast of Austin, founded a group called CorridorWatch in opposition to the plan. Stall took TxDOT at its word Tuesday. Even if some pieces remain under study, he said, “the Trans-Texas Corridor as a statewide, massive, multimodal, over-reaching project is dead.”

So why would TxDOT go out of its way to declare the project dead?

“They’ve got some bridges to mend with the Legislature that don’t have asphalt on them,” Stall said. “So if this is a foregone conclusion, it’s an easy gimme.”

The term “Trans-Texas Corridor” for now survives in one very prominent place, the Texas Transportation Code.

A bill eliminating that entire section of law has been filed, something TxDOT would not like to see, given that doing so would wipe out other powers it wants to maintain. “For instance, that’s the only place we have authority to build rail,” Deputy Executive Director Steve Simmons said.

TxDOT officials couldn’t say Tuesday how much had been spent on the corridor plan.

Cintra-Zachry, a Spanish and American consortium hired by TxDOT to develop a plan for the I-35 twin, signed a contract for $3.5 million. But the agency has spent much more on environmental work, public meetings, legal fees and other consulting on the agreements associated with the plan.

TxDOT spokesman Chris Lippincott said almost none of that money should be considered wasted. “We’re still going to build Texas 130 … we’re still going to build I-69,” Lippincott said. “Maybe we wasted some money developing a TTC logo, but that’s about it.”

bwear@statesman.com; 445-3698

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The information that Ron Paul writes about in this article is as valid today as it was in 2006. Construction on the NAFTA superhighway continues, especially in Texas, but there is not one iota of information in mainstream media about it or the protests against it or the fights to stop it. I’ve talked with people who do not even know that this is an issue or that it even exists. Very sad… We need to keep talking to people about these issues and making them aware. We need to help people to wake up!

Dr. Paul’s Writings: The NAFTA Superhighway

From Ron Paul 2008

Summary:

This superhighway would connect Mexico, the United States, and Canada, cutting a wide swath through the middle of Texas and up through Kansas City. This will require coordinated federal and state eminent domain actions on an unprecedented scale, as literally millions of people and businesses could be displaced. The loss of whole communities is almost certain, as planners cannot wind the highway around every quaint town, historic building, or senior citizen apartment for thousands of miles. One principal player is a Spanish construction company, which plans to build the highway and operate it as a toll road. But don’t be fooled: the superhighway proposal is not the result of free market demand, but rather an extension of government-managed trade schemes like NAFTA that benefit politically-connected interests.

By now many Texans have heard about the proposed “NAFTA Superhighway,” which is also referred to as the trans-Texas corridor. What you may not know is the extent to which plans for such a superhighway are moving forward without congressional oversight or media attention.

This superhighway would connect Mexico, the United States, and Canada, cutting a wide swath through the middle of Texas and up through Kansas City. Offshoots would connect the main artery to the west coast, Florida, and northeast. Proponents envision a ten-lane colossus the width of several football fields, with freight and rail lines, fiber-optic cable lines, and oil and natural gas pipelines running alongside.

This will require coordinated federal and state eminent domain actions on an unprecedented scale, as literally millions of people and businesses could be displaced. The loss of whole communities is almost certain, as planners cannot wind the highway around every quaint town, historic building, or senior citizen apartment for thousands of miles.

Governor Perry is a supporter of the superhighway project, and Congress has provided small amounts of money to study the proposal. Since this money was just one item in an enormous transportation appropriations bill, however, most members of Congress were not aware of it.

The proposed highway is part of a broader plan advanced by a quasi-government organization called the “Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America,” or SPP.

The SPP was first launched in 2005 by the heads of state of Canada, Mexico, and the United States at a summit in Waco.

The SPP was not created by a treaty between the nations involved, nor was Congress involved in any way. Instead, the SPP is an unholy alliance of foreign consortiums and officials from several governments. One principal player is a Spanish construction company, which plans to build the highway and operate it as a toll road. But don’t be fooled: the superhighway proposal is not the result of free market demand, but rather an extension of government-managed trade schemes like NAFTA that benefit politically-connected interests.

The real issue is national sovereignty. Once again, decisions that affect millions of Americans are not being made by those Americans themselves, or even by their elected representatives in Congress. Instead, a handful of elites use their government connections to bypass national legislatures and ignore our Constitution– which expressly grants Congress the sole authority to regulate international trade.

The ultimate goal is not simply a superhighway, but an integrated North American Union–complete with a currency, a cross-national bureaucracy, and virtually borderless travel within the Union. Like the European Union, a North American Union would represent another step toward the abolition of national sovereignty altogether.

A new resolution, introduced by Representative Virgil Goode of Virginia, expresses the sense of Congress that the United States should not engage in the construction of a NAFTA superhighway, or enter into any agreement that advances the concept of a North American Union. I wholeheartedly support this legislation, and predict that the superhighway will become a sleeper issue in the 2008 election.

Any movement toward a North American Union diminishes the ability of average Americans to influence the laws under which they must live. The SPP agreement, including the plan for a major transnational superhighway through Texas, is moving forward without congressional oversight– and that is an outrage. The administration needs a strong message from Congress that the American people will not tolerate backroom deals that threaten our sovereignty.

Learn more by reading:

NAFTA Superhighway and North American Union a Scary Reality

Kansas City SmartPort Uncovered

Ports to Plains Trade Corridor

Stop the Trucks.org

MOTRAN. org

The NAFTA Superhighway

Canada Openly Proclaims NAFTA Superhighway

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As Senators Clinton and Obama prepared to debate in their state, Texans were marching in protest over the NAFTA superhighway known as the Trans-Texas Corridor, or I-69, the primary purpose of which is to speed the delivery of goods coming in from Mexico to proposed inland ports.

The TTC is planned to span the state of Texas from Laredo, on the Mexican border, to Texarkana, on the border with Arkansas, to continue north to Canada. The projected cost is $183 billion over fifty years, with no American companies expressing interest in financing it.

With no public approval required to begin construction, repeated calls against the TTC at public meetings, with seldom a word of support, may easily go unheeded.

“This is about international–global companies that are coming in and having their way with our politicians,” says Terri Hall of TexasTURF. “It doesn’t matter what does to the people in the path,” she continues, “it doesn’t matter what it does to our way of life…”

“Citizens here,” says an unidentified man at a public hearing, “are not going to bear the burden so Wal-Mart can get their cargo into the U.S. cheaper and faster.”

Congressman Ron Paul (R-TX) is among opponents of the TTC, doubting the intentions of those planning its construction. He cites millions of acres subject to eminent domain, which the state promises to use against landowners who protest, and also notes that he has yet to encounter a person that supports the TTC.

“Frankly,” says Texas Department of Transportation’s Phil Russell, “we’re in a different day and age right now, and the way we built our roadways fifty years ago simply isn’t keeping up with the congestion that we’re seeing here in Texas now.”

“This is really messing with Texas,” quips an incredulous Lou Dobbs to anchor Bill Tucker. “You can’t tell me that Governor Rick Perry and the head of the Department of Transportation down there–that they’re dumb enough to say that, because all of this traffic’s coming out of Mexico, that Texas citizens should be funding the highway that is needed as a result of that traffic. That’s absolutely idiotic.”

“If people are putting up with this nonsense from their state government, and Governor Rick Perry, and their Department of Transportation,” Dobbs continues, “these aren’t the Texans that I know, and who I respect mightily.”

The report, broadcast on CNN’s Lou Dobbs Tonight on February 19, 2008, is available to view below.

Vodpod videos no longer available. from rawstory.com posted with vodpod

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Former Mexican President Urges U.S. to Embrace “Solidarity” Not “Selfishness” as North American Union Unfolds

Aaron Dykes from JonesReport.com

February 16, 2008

bush_selling_out_america_to_vicente_fox.jpgFormer Mexican President Vicente Fox indicated that he would favor the emergence of a world government and also reaffirmed his support for a North American Union during a conversation with WeAreChange.org.

Fox told cameras, “I would love to see the process [of World Government] adapted to the local situation.”

Fox played down concerns that sovereignty would be compromised under NAFTA and other agreements facilitating integration– asserting claims that Germany and Great Britain had lost no sovereignty under the EU.

He indicated that the ‘original agreement’ under the SPP (Security & Prosperity Partnership) had not moved forward at the pace that he had desired, but that progress was underway. Fox expressed hopes that the next U.S. administration could reassess and advance the agreement.

Rest of the story and videos here.

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