Joe Baker's Viewpoint: Roads signal trouble

Remember that ambitious plan announced by the tollway authority to make I-90 into an artery with multiple lanes in each direction and special lanes for I-Pass users? It is not an isolated project.

Across the country there is a frantic and frenzied burst of activity building new roads. We’re not talking about the familiar four-lane divided roadway. These super roads would be almost a quarter-mile wide and would accommodate car, truck and train traffic, plus provide a corridor for gas, oil, electric and water lines.

But these will not be public roadways, they will be built, owned and operated by foreign companies and will be used to facilitate the distribution of foreign goods.

The question is, with Peak Oil at hand and beginning to worsen, why are we building super roads? What is the purpose? Publisher of the From the Wilderness newsletter Mike Ruppert says: “I suspect that it is perhaps one of the largest giveaways of federal funds to corporate cronies in history. It is also sure to further weaken the treasury and increase U.S. indebtedness. Second, when it comes time to effectively manage a United States in meltdown, these roads will facilitate military control and be easier to police than other interstate highways.”

This ambitious and insidious program will involve not just a few private toll roads here and there, but networks of such roads linked to similar networks in Canada, Mexico and somewhat later, Central and South America.

One such project is Interstate 69, which will run 1,600 miles linking the U.S., Mexico and Canada. It will involve eight states and, when complete, will stretch from Port Huron, Mich., to the Texas-Mexico border.

I-69 will be part of the Trans-Texas Corridor (TTC)—a 4,000 mile network of new and existing toll roads. It will be the biggest private highway system in America. While the state of Texas will own the land, it will be leased to private foreign companies. I-35, the Oklahoma to Mexico portion, will be built as part of the TTC.

Plans call for the TTC to be 1,200 feet wide with 10 vehicle lanes (three passenger car lanes in each direction), two truck lanes in each direction, six rail lines (three each direction), two lines for high-speed passenger rail, two for commuter rail and two for freight. There will be a 200-feet right-of-way for utility lines.

Phyllis Spivey, writing for, reports the roadway is projected to cost up to $185 billion and would need up to 50 years to complete. It was approved by the Texas Transportation Commission in 2002 “without any substantive discussion or debate and without public comment.”

Spivey reported the Texas Department of Transportation sent emissaries to Europe in 2003 to find partners to carry out the project. By 2004, they had chosen a Spanish company to finance and build the first segment. This year, DOT officials, plus the governor of Texas and Federal Highway Administrator Mary Peters, signed a 342-page contract with the Spanish toll road firm Cintra Concesiones de Infraestructuras de Transporte SA, partner with Cintra Zachry on an 80-20 percent basis.

Not only has the George W. Bush administration approved this huge undertaking, but it has largely waived environmental studies and the like so work could begin even before any public hearings are held.

Texas Republicans grew alarmed. They made part of their platform a statement calling for repeal of the legislation authorizing the TTC and the revoking of all powers and authority for the DOT and the Texas Transportation Commission to build and operate the super road.

A group called Corridor Watch said there is strong and growing opposition to the project. Texans are concerned, it said, about the state establishing a transportation, communication, utility and economic development monopoly. They dislike that the project will occupy 584,000 acres of land, affecting landowners, farmers, ranches, wildlife, the environment, communities, taxpayers, water rights, local economies and more.

Another major concern is that the law authorizing the TTC gives the Transportation Commission virtually dictatorial powers to exercise eminent domain to take private property. It would affect properties contiguous to an existing or planned portion of the roadway, for use in building or operating the corridor, or for other facilities that would directly benefit users of the road or for “virtually any revenue-generating purpose.”

Corridor Watch declared: “With complete disregard for the public will and the citizens of Texas, our government is marching forward.” But Texas politicians are not alone. They are moving in time with international trade organizations such as North America’s Super Corridor Coalition (NASCO), the North American International Trade Corridor Partnership (NAITCP), and the Central North American Trade Corridor Association (CNATCA).

NASCO aims at creating an international trade corridor system throughout North America with tax dollars furnishing financing for certain projects. The group says that because of several recent trade agreements “the heartland of America enters a new era as a geographic crossroad for international trade.”

CNATCA seeks to promote “continued economic integration between the three North American countries and to foster greater collective involvement in the emerging global economy.”

Almost two dozen states have passed legislation permitting their road systems to be operated as toll roads and approving private companies to build and run them. Changing existing roads to tollways, thereby forcing taxpayers to pay each time they use roads for which they’ve already paid, is a wonderful revenue producer for big-spending politicians. Sound familiar?

California may be the next to adopt this model, but such corridors could be planned and planted in any state or region in the country. If policy on these things is going to be international in origin, what influence would citizens have?

The foreign involvement in these roadway systems evolves because of trade agreements like NAFTA. It permits Mexican trucks to haul international cargo all over the U.S.; allows creation of Mexican trucking companies here; and sanctions Mexican bus services nationwide in this country. United Press reported last March that Mexico would not allow U.S. inspectors to check trucks on the Mexican side of the border.

What’s coming next? Twenty-nine countries now stand in opposition to this plan and resistance is growing. Within a few years these super roads will reach all the way from Canada to Tierra del Fuego at the tip of South America. With them will come borders fully open to people from all points north and south, cutting up the farmland of the central U.S., disturbing small communities and affecting property rights. All of that at the expense of U.S. taxpayers.

Welcome to the brave New World Order (or odor).

From the June 22-28, 2005, issue

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