For MAPS and easier viewing visit the original article.
THE SUPERHIGHWAY FACTS
THE NEW MAP
compiled by Dee Finney
Prairie-to-Ports Gateway & Inland Port
The Prairie-to-Ports Gateway & Inland Port, or “Prairie Gateway” is a virtual combination of services and a cluster of numerous transportation, distribution and assembly players working and investing together. This is the best way to maximize the existing transportation assets across an integrated region, with many transportation, production, storage, trans-loading, assembly, product identification and research resources working as a team. This base will draw additional investment, labour and technology as a catalyst for a host of new ancillary business service companies.
What is an Inland Port?
An Inland Port is defined less on the physical aspects of one location and more on the intelligent logistics and coordination of a multitude of services. It has the following qualities:
- Is an organization or coalition made up of key transportation stakeholders
- Serves the regional trading area businesses and economy
- Facilitates growth for both import and export trade logistics
- A mechanism for cooperation, marketing the regions trade processing abilities
- Provides national coordination and collaboration among ocean port users
Like the Kansas City Smart Port regional model, the Prairie-to-Ports Gateway & Inland Port will be anchored by “connecting” the three major cities of Saskatoon, Moose Jaw and Regina. This will promote regional asset and system optimization. It is proposed that Saskatchewan’s central continental location and lower costs would be of sufficient appeal to attract international investor attention. The high level of cooperation among the principal transportation centres of Saskatchewan, through the tri-cities will generate distinct advantages, including:
- Integrate and maximize the unique sub-regional advantages of each community to generate even greater synergies than each community could achieve by working separately;
- Provide a value-enhancing alternative to the various less coordinated and smaller scale and scope terminals, hubs or trans-loading sites existing in other parts of Canada;
- Foster freight movement productivity through modernization of regulatory reform (i.e. highway road weight limits) and preservation of freight-corridor efficiency on road, rail and air.
Bush Administration Quietly
Plans NAFTA Super Highway
By Jerome R. Corsi
The front page of the Spring 2007 OKLAHOMA CONSTIUTION carries a story about this 1200 ft wide corridor from Mexico to Canada,
problems already happening with eminent domain in Texas, and Senator Randy Brogdon’s efforts to head it off before it gets here. This
‘corridor’ is a spin-off from NAFTA and CAFTA and efforts to create a NORTH AMERICAN UNION similiar to the EU
Senator Brogdon has introduced an ammendment to HB1819 that will “…prohibit the state’s department of transportation from
participating or entering in any negotiation or agreement with NASCO.”(North America’s SuperCorridor Coalition) and SCR-10 urging
the United States Government to withdraw from the Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America and any activity which seeks
to create a North American Union.
Officials say they see no budget ‘earmarks,’ because they don’t know where to look
Ask some members of Congress about plans to build a “NAFTA superhighway” connecting Mexico and Canada via the U.S. and you
might hear snickers. Some officials will tell you they have seen no “earmarks” for such a plan and question whether it even exists.
But the plan does exist and the NAFTA superhighway is being built – under the radar screen.
Congressman: Superhighway about North American Union
Paul says goal is common currency, borderless travel, bigger bureaucracy
Posted: October 30, 2006
WASHINGTON – Rep. Ron Paul, a maverick Republican from Texas, today denounced plans for the proposed “NAFTA superhighway” in his state as part of a larger plot for merger of the U.S., Canada and Mexico into a North American Union.
“By now many Texans have heard about the proposed ‘NAFTA Superhighway,’ which is also referred to as the trans-Texas corridor,” he said in a statement. “What you may not know is the extent to which plans for such a superhighway are moving forward without congressional oversight or media attention.”
Paul explained that most members of Congress are unaware of the plans because only relatively small amounts of money have been spent studying the plans and those allocations were included in “enormous transportation appropriations bills.”
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,” he explains. “The SPP was first launched in 2005 by the heads of state of Canada, Mexico, and the United States at a summit in Waco.”
No treaties were involved, and Congress was not included in discussions or plans, he says.
“Instead, the SPP is an unholy alliance of foreign consortiums and officials from several governments,” according to Paul. “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.”
Paul says, however, the real issue raised by the superhighway plan and the SPP 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,” says Paul. “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, he says, 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.”
Rep. Virgil Goode, R-Va., has introduced a resolution expressing the sense of Congress that the U.S. 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,” says Paul. “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.”
For a comprehensive look at the U.S. government’s plan to integrate the U.S., Mexico and Canada into a North American super-state – guided by the powerful but secretive Council on Foreign Relations – read “ALIEN NATION: SECRETS OF THE INVASION,” a special edition of WND’s acclaimed monthly Whistleblower magazine.
Texas governor clears way for NAFTA superhighway
Vetoes legislation to delay big transportation corridor
Posted: June 22, 2007
The path has been cleared for the state of Texas to begin building the new Trans-Texas Corridor, a project that is designed to be four football fields wide, along Interstate 35 from Mexico to the Oklahoma border, according to a new report from WND columnist Jerome Corsi, the author of “The Late Great USA.”
The way was opened when Texas Gov. Rick Perry, a Republican, vetoed a series of proposals the Texas Legislature
Perry’s latest veto was of a plan to add a number of requirements to the Texas eminent-domain procedures, under
But, Corsi reported, Steven Anderson of the Institute for Justice’s Castle Coalition, objected. He said Perry’s action
“left every home, farm, ranch and small-business owner vulnerable to the abuse of eminent domain.”Earlier, Corsi reported, Perry vetoed a plan to impose a two-year moratorium on the TTC project.
As WND previously reported, these measures were approved overwhelmingly by the Texas Legislature.
On learning that Perry had vetoed the eminent-domain legislation, Corridor Watch, a public advocacy group that
“It sure didn’t take TxDOT long to shake off the legislative session and resume their headlong rush to use every
Corridor Watch also noted that in the 49 bills Perry vetoed June 15 were measures that would have required TxDOT
An override of Perry’s vetoes is unlikely, since the governor threatened to call a special session of the lawmakers to
As WND has previously reported, the $180 billion needed to build the 4,000-mile TTC network planned for
WND also has reported Perry has received substantial campaign contributions from Cintra and Zachry Construction
Just this week, WND reported TxDOT already is moving to apply its four-football-fields-wide NAFTA superhighway
WND has documented a significant reason for the projects is to connect truck traffic from Mexican ports on the Pacific,
WND also has reported the Department of Transportation plans to start a Mexican truck demonstration project as early
‘I propose a North American Community’
Posted: May 9, 2007
Lou Dobbs, Patrick Buchanan, Jerome Corsi and many of their readers have repeatedly accused me of:
Some have written that they have drawn these conclusions from reading my book, “Toward a North American Community”
If they had read what I have written, they would know that all the accusations above are false. I don’t want to speculate as to
why these individuals would repeat unfounded charges, or why this news site would continue to repeat them. Instead, let me
summarize my views on the future of North America, recognizing that my brief distillation does not adequately capture my
analysis or proposals, but at least it is a fair summary. (This stands in contrast with those who twist my work to make their
points rather than mine. For those who want to review my work, visit the website of the Center for North American Studies
and its publications.)First, while some want to build formidable barriers to keep out Mexico and Canada, I would argue the opposite: We need to
find new ways to relate in a positive way to our two neighbors. The reason is simple: No two nations are as important to the
United States as Canada and Mexico. Our two largest trading partners are not England and China, but Canada and Mexico.
The two largest sources of energy imports are not Saudi Arabia and Venezuela, but Canada and Mexico. For the past three
decades, Mexico has been, by far, the largest source of both legal and illegal migration to the United States. There are roughly
500 million legal crossings of both borders each year, and the preferred tourist destination of Canadians, Mexicans and
Americans is their neighbors in North America.
Second, while some view the North American Free Trade Agreement, or NAFTA, as a failure that should be repealed, I believe
Third, I do not propose a North American Union; I propose a North American Community. They are very different. A Union –
Fourth, because of the asymmetry in power and wealth, Mexico and Canada have always been wary of getting too close to the
Fifth, I have offered numerous proposals to build a North American Community, which would be very different from the European
Such proposals could include a Customs Union (common external tariff) to eliminate needless rules of origin, a North American
I know some desperately fear a North American Super-Corridor, but two-thirds of all the trade among the three countries are on
With regard to currencies, there is little prospect of a unified currency because all three governments are too committed to the
In summary, there is no prospect of a North American Union or currency, but there are compelling needs for the three sovereign
THE NEW WORLD DISORDER
U.S. parkway leased to Aussie firm
Opponents see tie to feds’ sell-off of infrastructure to foreigners
Posted: January 18, 2007
A decision by the Virginia Department of Transportation to lease the Pocahontas Parkway to an Australian
investment consortium is drawing sharp criticism from opponents of public-private partnerships promoted by
the Federal Highway Administration.The VDOT signed a comprehensive agreement June 29, 2006, to lease the 8.8 mile Pocahontas Parkway toll road
for 99-years to Transurban, an Australian investment consortium, for a one-time payment of $548 million and an
agreement to construct a 1.58 mile, four-lane extension to Richmond International Airport.
The extension of the Pocahontas Parkway is pending a decision of the of the U.S. Department of Transportation
Kenneth White, president of the Virginia Taxpayers Association, testified Monday before the Virginia House and
WND previously reported EuroMoney Seminars, a UK-based company, intends to hold a seminar in Miami
White, who has led his group for 34 years, objected to the Virginia congressional committees that Reese “was a
In an e-mail to WND, Jeff Caldwell, VDOT assistant director of Public Affairs explained:
White told WND his group objects to VDOT using state funds to send any VDOT employee to the planned
The Virginia Taxpayers Association’s fundamental objection is that the VDOT has no right to lease to foreign
Virginia is celebrating its 400th birthday this year – the Jamestown settlement, from which Pocahontas became
The Virginia Taxpayers Association contends it is “clearly unlawful for any state government, as a separate entity,
The Federal Highway Administration currently features the Pocahontas Parkway lease as a case study on its newly
The FHWA website provides detailed “how-to” information for state legislators and department of transportation to
White’s testimony also supported Senate Joint Resolution No. 387, which has been introduced into the Virginia Senate
Reynolds’ resolution also specifies support for H.C.R. 487, which was introduced by U.S. Rep. Virgil Goode, R-Va., to
As reported by WND, the resolution was co-sponsored by Reps. Tom Tancredo, R-Colo.; Ron Paul, R-Texas; and
If you wish to order by phone, call our toll-free order line at 1-800-4WND-COM (1-800-496-3266).
At the time of this writing, there’s a story just below radar that’s poised to explode onto front pages all over America: the NAFTA
Superhighway. And it should scare the hell out of everyone
Jerome Corsi, who earned a Ph.D. in political science from Harvard, describes the Superhighway in a June 12, 2006 article in
Human Events Online, a conservative website. According to Dr. Corsi, the mammoth road system is being quietly pushed by the
Bush Administration. The proposed superhighway would be about 400 yards wide and run along U.S. Interstate 35 from the
Mexican border at Loredo, Texas to the Canadian border above Duluth, Minnesota.
According to the Ambassador Bridge website, the Superhighway would facilitate commerce between Mexico, Canada, and the
U.S. pursuant to the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which was signed by the leaders of those three nations
in 1994. Ambassador Bridge, owned by the Detroit Bridge Company on the U.S. side, and the Canadian Transit Company on the
Canadian side, is the busiest crossing between the U.S. and Canada, according to the website. The owners of Ambassador Bridge
are members of the NAFTA Superhighway Coalition (NASCO).
According to Ambassador Bridge, NAFTA trade among the three countries is expected to reach $ 1.5 trillion by 2010, and 75
percent of trade between the U.S. and Canada, America’s primary trading partner, is by truck. The website says that the
Superhighway is good for the economies of all three nations and will provide jobs in towns near Highway 401, which serves the
Canadian side of the Bridge.
Ambassador Bridge also says that the parties to NAFTA are obliged to build the Superhighway to “safely and efficiently” handle
the increased road traffic projected over the next few years. Traffic safety is fine and dandy, but what about the safety of
In his Human Events article, Dr. Corsi writes that the proposed superhighway would allow containers from our good buddy China,
and other parts of the Far East, to enter the U.S. through a Mexican port without assistance from American longshoremen, a
situation which has their union up in arms.
Mexican trucks, without Teamsters Union help, would cross the U.S. border in express lanes scanned only by a new electronic
technology called the SENTRI System. The first customs stop for the trucks would be at a yet-to-be-built Mexican customs office
in Kansas City, whose three-million-dollar cost would be paid for by Kansas City taxpayers, according to Dr. Corsi.
Eastern items, writes Dr. Corsi. According to a July 14, 2006 commentary by Teamsters president Jim Hoffa, most Mexican drivers
interviewed by an independent investigative reporter said they had used illegal drugs to stay conscious while driving, and many said they
were involved in fatal crashes. Hoffa also said that Mexican trucks are uninsured.
In this age of terrorism and porous borders, the NAFTA Superhighway is yet another nail in the coffin for U.S. domestic security. American
sovereignty should not be for sale. Our border security is being sacrificed on the altar of the NAFTA Superhighway to gain a perceived
economic advantage which may prove elusive.
In contrast to the rosy economic picture painted by Ambassador Bridge, the Teamsters fear layoffs. According to Hoffa, NAFTA has caused
the loss of three million American manufacturing jobs and one million Mexican farms. Hoffa says that under NAFTA, Mexican wages have
dropped significantly, fueling illegal immigration to the U.S.
Whenever a Teamsters boss and a conservative commentator agree on anything, we’re all in trouble.
Dr. Corsi notes that President Bush has been silent on the issue, and that Congress has not drafted any legislation authorizing construction
of the Superhighway. In other words, American leaders are out to lunch on the biggest proposed revamping of the U.S. interstate system
since the Eisenhower Administration.
In his Human Events article, Dr. Corsi strongly suggests that the NAFTA Superhighway is a backdoor plan to create a North American
Union similar to the European Union, but without the open debate that occurred prior to the formation of the latter entity.
The U.S. already has open borders with Canada, a stable, prosperous nation with which it shares a common heritage and culture. Given the
widely reported attempted Canadian border crossings by several terrorists in recent years, we may have to modify that arrangement. In
this climate, it is the height of insanity to have a superhighway which would create a de facto open border with Mexico, a country that has
serious issues of corruption, poverty, and civil unrest.
In a June 5, 2006 article in World Net Daily, Dr. Corsi sites the Kansas City SmartPort website, which notes that in March 2005, Kansas
City signed an agreement with the Mexican state of Michoacan, in which the Mexican port of Lazaro Cardenas is located. The agreement is
intended to facilitate commerce between Lazaro Cardenas and Kansas City. Under this arrangement, Far Eastern goods would be quickly
moved into America’s heartland with cheap, non-union, Mexican labor.
According to the World Net Daily article, shipments would be monitored by intelligent transportation systems (ITS), including GPS and
radio frequency identification, between Kansas City and other parts of the U.S. The agreement calls for prescreening cargo in Southeast
Asia and repeatedly scanning it with X-rays and gamma rays upon arrival in Mexico before it is sent to the U.S.
technology for items arriving in the U.S. If the United States can’t trust its own systems to keep Americans safe, how can it possibly rely
on dubious partners?
Another major problem is expense. An article in the August 3, 2006 online edition of the Duluth News Tribune notes that the Superhighway
will cost Texas alone $ 145 billion to $ 183 billion. The Minnesota DOT, which, according to the News Tribune, is in “preservation-only mode”,
has budgeted $ 800 million in new road construction over the past decade. The DOT is considering whether to join NASCO, but has no idea
of how it would raise the required funds.
The News Tribune reports that the Texas DOT is holding public hearings this summer. At least somebody’s waking up. It’s about time.
Rumour of ‘NAFTA superhighway’ has Americans fearing for sovereignty
Are North American governments secretly conspiring to build a “NAFTA superhighway,” four football fields wide, from Mexico
to Canada to bypass regulatory controls and whisk goods swiftly to market?
If you believe some right-wing websites in the United States, it’s all but a fait accompli. They insist a gargantuan project is in the
NAFTA superhighway extends north
Plan under way in Texas will extend to Oklahoma, Colorado
Posted: June 21, 2007
As WND has reported, the Federal Highway Administration is promoting public-private partnership projects to expand
The plan is for the states of Texas, Oklahoma and Colorado to apply the TTC toll road concept first developed by the
To advance this plan, the Ports-to-Plains Trade Corridor Coalition – sponsored by the consulates of Mexico and Canada
The brochure recommends the conference be attended by real estate developers, transportation planners, highway
services business executives, as well as state, local, county and municipal public officials and international trade
professionals.An April Texas DOT study on the Ports-to-Plains Trade Corridor Coalition website documents the tie between the
The study says the Ports-to-Plains Corridor offers an opportunity to apply the Trans-Texas Corridor technology to
As WND previously reported, the $180 billion needed to build the 4,000 mile Trans-Texas Corridor network over the
|About Oklahomans for Sovereignty and Free Enterprise, Inc:Welcome to www.OK-SAFE.com.
Oklahomans for Sovereignty and Free Enterprise, Incorporated (OK-SAFE) is a non-profit 501 c4 Oklahoma
OK-SAFE sees a concerted, dedicated and well funded effort by Social and Economic Elites to transition the
We find evidence to conclude the following Institutional transitions are well underway:
Political – Servant to Master
OK-SAFE seeks to advance and defend the American principles of sovereignty and free enterprise through
Accordingly we issue a call for American Patriots to come together, to unite the citizens and statesmen of the
|Constitution & Law
See other Constitution & Law Articles
Title: NAFTA Superhighway Ready To Roll
Texas Gov. Rick Perry, a Republican, has vetoed a series of bills passed by the Texas Legislature, clearing the way for the
On Friday, June 15, Perry vetoed an eminent-domain reform bill passed by the Legislature. Provisions in the bill would have
In vetoing the bill, Perry’s office issued a press release claiming House Bill No. 2006 “would vastly expand the cost to Texas
Steven Anderson, director of the Institute for Justice’s Castle Coalition, objected.
“With this veto, Governor Perry has left every home, farm, ranch and small-business owner vulnerable to the abuse of eminent
Anderson’s organization is a national grass-roots advocacy group that works to block private-to-private transfers of property
A month earlier, on May 18, Perry vetoed House Bill No. 1892, a measure that would have imposed a two-year moratorium on
In that veto message, Perry claimed the bill “jeopardizes billions of dollars of infrastructure investment and invites a potentially
As WND previously reported, these measures were approved overwhelmingly by the Texas Legislature, with HB 1892 passing
When HB 2006 cleared the Texas Legislature, the Federal Highway Administration Chief Counsel James D. Ray wrote a letter
Perry’s veto message strongly suggests the FHWA’s threat was heard loud and clear in Austin.
On learning that Perry had vetoed the eminent-domain legislation, Corridor Watch, a public advocacy group that opposes the
Corridor Watch posted on its website: “It sure didn’t take TxDOT long to shake off the legislative session and resume their
Corridor Watch also noted that in the 49 bills Perry vetoed June 15 were measures that would have required TxDOT to consider
To ward off the possibility the Texas Legislature would fight back, Perry threatened to call a “Special Session” to resolve
The 80th Texas Legislature wrapped up its 140-day session May 29, immediately after Memorial Day.
Now, sponsors would have to reintroduce these bills in the next legislative session and start all over again. The Texas
According to Bloomberg.com, the last time the Texas Legislature overrode a governor’s veto was more than a quarter of a
As WND has previously reported, the $180 billion needed to build the 4,000-mile TTC network planned for construction over
WND has also reported Perry has received substantial campaign contributions from Cintra and Zachry Construction Company,
WND has established that Cintra is represented in the United States by Bracewell and Giuliani, Republican Party presidential
Even though TTC superhighways will be built by a private investment consortium from Spain, Texas conveniently can make use
In this case, the Supreme Court decided that eminent domain could be used to seize private property from U.S. citizens even
In a question-answer format on the TTC website, a “myth vs. reality” answer explains how TxDOT plans to use what is known
The site explains that a Texas state law (passed as HB 3588) allows a quick-take seizure of private property “if TxDOT and
Under this law, TxDOT can seize a property on the 91st day after the landowner is served with an official notice of quick-take,
WND has reported TxDOT is moving moving to apply its four-football-fields-wide NAFTA superhighway plan of building new
WND has also documented that NASCO (North America’s SuperCorridor Coalition, Inc.), a Dallas-based trade association
The Federal Highway Administration has designated the Ports-to-Plains Corridor as a “High Priority Corridor” on the National
WND repeatedly has reported the Federal Highway Administration is promoting public-private partnership projects to bring
The Federal Highway Administration has constructed a section of its government website dedicated to explaining to the states
WND has documented that a major purpose of the TTC projects is to connect U.S. roads with Mexican ports on the Pacific,
Mexican ports are being increasingly used as an alternative to West Coast ports such as Los Angeles and Long Beach as a
WND has reported the Department of Transportation plans to start a Mexican truck demonstration project as early as Aug. 15,
3-Nation Union Plan
Kenneth White, President
Virginia Taxpayers Association
Timeline of the Progress Toward a North American Union
Canadian, U.S., and Mexican elites, including CEOS and politicians, have a plan to create common North American policies and
Vive le Canada.ca offers the following timeline as a resource to educate the general public about the progress of the three countries
Vive le Canada.ca opposes the creation of the North American Union (NAU) because we believe it will mean the loss of Canadian
Note: This timeline is a work in progress and will be updated as events progress. If you notice a correction that needs to be made or
Sources aside from articles provided within the timeline:
Also, wherever possible links to the full text of various agreements have been provided.
We also recommend the Council of Canadians’ deep integration timeline: DI timeline (PDF)
strategically critical national and international trade, transportation, security and environmental issues.
Economists predict U.S. bound international containerized cargo will increase 350% by 2020. United States, Mexico, and Canadian
exports to one another and the world are at an all time high.
We are literally facing a trade tsunami and U.S., Mexico, and Canadian infrastructure is unable to handle the burden.
Pessimists view this as an impending crisis. NASCO views these challenges as a valuable opportunity for economic development,
job creation, and to improve the overall trade competitiveness of the United States, Mexico and Canada in the global marketplace.
NASCO’s purpose is to boost economic development activity by supporting:
- Multi-modal (rail, truck, ships, air cargo) infrastructure improvements
- Technology and security innovations on existing infrastructure to improve security and efficiency
- Enhanced visibility, security, and accountability of supply chains critical to every day life
- Environmental projects to preserve quality of life and allow for future growth
- Strengthened security in cross-border trade flows
SETTING THE RECORD STRAIGHT
The critically important role transportation and trade play in our every day lives and in our nations’ economies is dramatically
undervalued and underappreciated. Critics are attempting to exploit this misunderstanding to disrupt federal, state, and local
projects aimed at propelling our communities and countries forward. These critics attempt to falsely portray NASCO as anything
other than what it is: an effective and necessary advocate for efficient, secure and environmentally conscious trade and t
We have updated our website to clearly articulate the purpose and objectives that have defined, and always will define, our
|Wayne Madsen ReportNew Transportation Secretary Mary Peters to ensure Bush crime family super-highway projects proceed unimpeded.
Sept. 8/9/10, 2006 — George W. Bush’s pick for Transportation Secretary represents a major conflict-of-interest designed to spur the construction of the Trans-Texas Corridor — a project in which Bush and his cronies are heavily invested. Last week, Bush nominated Mary Peters to replace Norman Mineta as Secretary of Transportation. Unlike Mineta, a former congressman who then became a Vice President fo the aerospace defense giant Lockheed Martin, Peters comes out of the surface transportation industry. She is a vice president for the engineering firm HDR and co-vice chairman of the National Surface Transportation Policy and Revenue Study Commission. From 2001 to 2005, Peters was the head of the Federal Highway Administration. Peters is also a former head of the Arizona Department of Transportation. Peters worked in the administration of disgraced GOP Governor Fife Symington, who was convicted of bank fraud and resigned from office. (Symington was later pardoned by his college friend, President Bill Clinton).
Peters’ commitment to major “infrastructure development” of the nation’s highways centers on the development of the North American SuperCorridor (NASCO) highway, of which the Tran-Texas Corridor will be a major component. Already, Bush crime syndicate cronies, including interests tied to Texas Governor Rick Perry, are purchasing property along the proposed Texas highway route at cut-rate prices, using “eminent domain” statutes to pay less than what private and commercial property is worth. The money for the massive land grab is coming from Saudi and Chinese sources, according to knowledgeable sources in Texas. The NASCO highway will cross 11 states: Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Missouri, Iowa, South Dakota, North Dakota, Minnesota, Michigan, Indiana and Illinois. It will also connect proposed Mexican super ports in Manzanillo, Mazatlan, and Lazaro Cardenas to various United States trucking and distribution super-hubs in San Antonio, Dallas, Kansas City, as well as one in Winnipeg in Canada. The Mexican ports will be receiving points for manufactured products from China. The theft of the Mexican presidency by conservative Felipe Calderon at the expense of populist leader Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador was engineered to protect the sizeable investments the Bush crime cartel, including The Carlyle Group, and their Saudi and Chinese financiers have already sunk into the project.
Eventually, NASCO will be expanded as far south as Argentina by linking North America to Central America (Mexico-Central American Corridor and an improved Pan American Highway). The expensive tolls charged throughout the 10-lane super-highway system will be used to line the pockets of the Bush family well into the middle of the 21st century. Peters, as a highway and trucking industry shill, has been entrusted by the Bush crime cartel to ensure that the plans for NASCO and the Pan American Super Corridor proceed unimpeded. It is estimated that as many as 1 million Texans alone, many in rural and poor urban areas, could be displaced by the Trans-Texas Corridor.
of the 49th a more vocal opposition will emerge, however, now that construction of the NAFTA Super Highway -a 10-lane
monstrosity linking Monterrey to Winnipeg- has begun on the TCC or ‘Trans-Texas Corridor’, I suspect that American nationalists
will be the first to protest.Here’s a map: http://www.nascocorridor.com/
In Canada, NAU was originally supported by the Liberals (John Manley) and is now being fostered by the Conservatives (Stockwell
Day). Recently, officials from all three countries (Mexico/Canada/US) met in Banff this past September albeit in secrecy. Why?
Because there’s A LOT MORE on the table than just transportation or trade issues. Allow me to illuminate.
For those of you who ‘missed it’, NORAD no longer exists.
Control of what was once sovereign Canadian airspace under a bi-national and ‘shared’ command was effectively dissolved in
October 02′ by the creation of USNORTHCOM. Under this new command, Cheyenne mountain is being mothballed and operations
of what used to be NORAD have been transferred to what is refered to as N2C2.
Asisde from North American aerospace, USNORTHCOM also fully intends to take control of all North American sea lanes and
approaches out to 500 miles which may seem a little confusing for a command structure based in Colorado, however, once one
notices that the commander of USNORTHCOM is an Admiral, the strategy makes sense.
Ahh but what about the land component you ask?
Meet America’s newest command – USARNORTH: http://www.arnorth.army.mil established to ‘protect the American people and
their way of life’.
And where might we find USARNORTH? How about Ft. Sam Houston where low and behold… construction of the NAFTA
Superhighway has begun.
Is a superhighway shaping the economic and political future of Canada? That’s what Richard D. Vogel argues in the cover story
of the current issue of Canadian Dimension. We also celebrate May Day with articles on “women’s” work (by Bernadette
Wagner) and human trafficking (by Amardeep Kaur Gill) in our second-annual feature, Labour Activists who are Changing the
World, and we get the dirt on Canadian mining companies operating in Guatemala and Honduras.
Bush’s unpublicized project that’s going to make a lot of people really angry.
center of the country, four football fields wide. Isn’t that 400 yards? Equals 1200 feet? Which is almost a quarter of a mile
or half a kilometer? You can open your eyes now and see where the highway goes.
It’s a little like a tree with its roots in Mexico, two major roots running north and northeast to Laredo. Once past Laredo and
into south Texas, it charges straight north, 400 yards wide, to Kansas City. There it splits, one branch running through Chicago
and Detroit to Toronto and Montreal, the other branch running northwest through Omaha and Fargo to Winnipeg and then to
the west coast of Canada.
It’s no bike path. It’s new NAFTA highway.
Once complete, the new road will allow containers from the Far East to enter the United States through the Mexican
port of Lazaro Cardenas, bypassing the Longshoreman’s Union in the process. The Mexican trucks, without the
involvement of the Teamsters Union, will drive on what will be the nation’s most modern highway straight into the heart
of America. The Mexican trucks will cross border in FAST lanes, checked only electronically by the new “SENTRI”
system. The first customs stop will be a Mexican customs office in Kansas City, their new Smart Port complex, a facility
being built for Mexico at a cost of $3 million to the U.S. taxpayers in Kansas City.
You think I’m kidding? The project has been on the hotplate here in Texas for a couple of years with protesters trying to stop it.
As incredible as this plan may seem to some readers, the first Trans-Texas Corridor segment of the NAFTA Super Highway
is ready to begin construction next year. Various U.S. government agencies, dozens of state agencies, and scores of private
NGOs (non-governmental organizations) have been working behind the scenes to create the NAFTA Super Highway, despite
the lack of comment on the plan by President Bush. The American public is largely asleep to this key piece of the coming
“North American Union” that government planners in the new trilateral region of United States, Canada and Mexico are
about to drive into reality.
You haven’t heard about it? Maybe that’s because the plan includes a lot of politically very unpopular features. For starters, it will
have a huge and very negative environmental impact, starting with the farm and ranchland seized in order to have 400 yards of
asphalt and pollution, not even taking into account the service industries growing up along the length of it. Then there’s the matter
of bypassing union labor. Oh, and the open border it requires at both ends — that should send some Minute Men into convulsions.
And no “robust debate.” No way.
Missing in the move toward creating a North American Union is the robust public debate that preceded the decision to form
the European Union. All this may be for calculated political reasons on the part of the Bush Administration. A good reason
Bush does not want to secure the border with Mexico may be that the administration is trying to create express lanes for
Mexican trucks to bring containers with cheap Far East goods into the heart of the U.S., all without the involvement of any
U.S. union workers on the docks or in the trucks.
For more on this quiet blockbuster of a project yet to hit the mainstream media,
you’ll need to check out the article at Human Events, a conservative journal.
Posted on June 17, 2006
The Mother of All Bureaucracies-NASCO
By Nancy Thomson
It isn’t possible to have a Mother of All Highways unless there is an equivalent organization to back it up. Voila, we have the
North America’s Superhighway Coalition, Inc. (NASCO)
In the past it was our American companies going international overseas, the UN, IMF (International Monetary Fund) and the
World Bank that were frittering away our money for use in the far reaches of the globe. With the introduction of NASCO the US
has become its own global target. We are internationalizing ourselves!
According to their own pubic relation’s release, NASCO is a multi-state, international non-profit corporation. Their board of
directors successfully lobbied Congress to create and provide funds for the International Trade Corridors “(ITC) This included
$7oo million in Contract Authority under the new federal highway bill… the Transportation Equity Act (TEA 21) Again lobbying
Congress successfully, NASCO was able to get almost $350 million for special projects along the Corridor. Highways I-36 and
I-29 were named as “high priority corridors” under the National Highway System Designation Act of 1995 and (TEA-21)”
Did Mexico and Canada also lobby their governments for money to build this colossal rite of passage for imports?
Many of our national highways will start charging tolls and we will have to pay to travel on our own roads. These additional fees
will be added to the International Highway coffers along with federal, state, and “private”(Chinese?) funding. The manufacturing
of many high line products have left US shores and transplanted themselves in slave labor China. We now import goods from the
Chinese that were originally made in the USA. This accounts for the $60 billion dollar trade deficit with this communist country.
Importing to us is the most important way to fund their military and this NAFTA trade Corridor will increase their access
Why shouldn’t the Chinese donate to a cause that increases their income, allots some control of the project, and furthers the
US economic downslide?
The membership of this trade organization is a conglomeration of US cities, counties, and states, Canadian cities and provinces,
many Chamber’s of Commerce, and private sector businesses such as the Ambassador Bridge at the international border crossing
of Detroit and Windsor. Coalition leadership has passed to Oklahoma State Majority Whip, Keith Leftwich, and a Democrat who
wrote the resolution authorizing his states’ membership in NASCO.
Leftwich hopes to add new funding for trade corridors, and increased research for technology in dealing with increased traffic
demands. He also wants creation of International Trade Processing Centers (ITPCS) to manage trade flow, and a “clean corridor”
to reduce congestion. Links to local, state, and provincial economies along the corridor will be encouraged.
The three NAFTA nations mid-continent corridor will be intermodal trade, and the goal is to facilitate movement of people (illegal
aliens?) and goods. NASCO will increase the “public private partnerships”(this means international control of everything) They
will “explore strategic alliances with other corridor coalitions.”
This veiled language doesn’t fool anyone who knows the government’s trade agenda of incorporating all of this hemisphere and
Africa into NAFTA. These added areas would become the “strategic partners mentioned for other coalitions.
Buried among all the hype about The International Trade Corridor (ITC) is language that indicates this system will function is a
variety of regulatory ways.
- It will support government trade agencies. Will this support include NAFTA, GATT and the WTO?
- ITC will aid in state government’s enforcement of safety and environmental laws.
- The collection of TAXES, TOLLS and USER FEES will be enforced by the states and the ITC.
- TC system will insure “citizens” that state and federal agencies HAVE THE MEANS of enforcement for safety,
environmental and that taxes, fees , and tolls are being fairly assessed and collected.
Getting local people and officials in the Corridor areas all involved is key to implementing the program. Locals have all sorts of
traffic problems they want solved by using federal funds. .A good example of this is Austin Texas and the surrounding territory.
Traffic congestion abounds on the I-35, and the cost of alleviating the situation by building a bypass would cost $1 billion dollars.
NAFTA supporters have always considered I-35 as the preliminary super highway for goods from Mexico coming into the US.
This of course, is the explanation for the traffic overflow.
A Texas delegation wants Congress to create “an international trade corridor” and make Texas eligible for hundreds of millions
of dollars. This internationalizing transportation is a new money source! Texas gets the money and the internationalists working
in conjunction with Washington have a hook in another state’s transportation structure.
A state study, which would officially accept NASCO’S own 1995 version of the Superhighway and this, would unite state and
Coalition projects. Public meetings will be held in major Texas cities this March.
In April, 1994, Denton County Judge Jeff Moseley founded the eight – state coalition.
His coalition employs three Washington lobbyists to pressure Congress on behalf of the Corridor cause. How could anyone
question an enterprise in which a judge becomes a leader?
The arrogance of officials involved in spending of taxpayer’s money is nowhere more evident than in the statements of Jim
Francis, the coalition’s strategic advisor. NASCO’S study identified $5.5 billion for 1-35 long term, He stated that the Interstate
29 interlocking road that heads north to Winnipeg Canada could have major improvements by spending” several hundred million
dollars” in the next five years.
But , Francis said,” But it is more then just getting money for 1-35 It’s getting Congress to recognize funds for trade corridors
over and beyond the various state funds.”
Major heartland points represented in the NAFTA trade route are Winnipeg Canada, Iowa. Kansas
City Missouri, Oklahoma, Texas, and Detroit/ Windsor. Officials in all these areas are looking forward to globalization increasing
their income in the marketplace. Our industries are disappearing so there is less and less to export. We have a $ 3 hundred billion
dollar trade deficit even without this trade corridor. How short sighted these Americans in their push to establish US subsidized
markets for foreign countries. They are so easily led by false crusaders of globalism.
|EU worming it’s way into ‘Kanada’?
Posted: July 29, 2007
By Jerome R. Corsi
Vice President Cheney
Despite evidence to the contrary, Vice President Dick Cheney says there is no “secret plan” to create a continent-crossing superhighway to help facilitate a merger of the United States, Mexico and Canada. “The administration is not engaged in a secret plan to create a ‘NAFTA super highway,'” asserts Cheney in a recent letter to a constituent, according to a copy of the message obtained by WND. The vice president’s letter quotes an Aug. 21 statement from the U.S. Department of Transportation that, “The concept of a super highway has been around since the early 1990s, usually in the form of a claim that the U.S. Department of Transportation is going to designate such a highway.”
DOT then refutes the claim, stating, “The Department of Transportation has never had the statutory authority to designate a NAFTA super highway and has never sought such authority.” The DOT statement then retracts the absolute nature of that statement, qualifying that, “The Department of Transportation will continue to cooperate with the State transportation departments in the I-35 corridor as they upgrade this vital interstate highway to meet 21st century needs.
President George Bush states that he will help get the bridge rebuilt quickly. The cost will be about $500,000,000.
However, these efforts are the routine activities of a Department that cooperates with all the state transportation departments to improve the Nation’s intermodal transportation network.” The DOT statement cited by the vice president seems to model the denial recently fashioned by the North America’s SuperCorridor Coalition, Inc., or NASCO, on its website. There NASCO states, “There a no plans to build a new NAFTA Superhighway ¨C it exists today as I-35.” The coalition continues to distinguish its support for a North American “SuperCorridor” from a “NAFTA Superhighway,” asserting that a “SuperCorridor is not ‘Super-sized.”
The website then claims NASCO uses the term “SuperCorridor” to demonstrate “we are more than just a highway coalition.” In a July 21, 2006, internal e-mail obtained by WND under a Missouri Sunshine Law request, Tiffany Melvin, executive director of NASCO, cautions “NASCO friends and members” that, “We have to stay away from ‘SuperCorridor’ because it is a very bad, hot button right now.” As WND previously reported, Jeffrey Shane, undersecretary of transportation for policy at the U.S. Department of Transportation got into a spirited exchange in January with congressmen after he asserted to a House
In June 2006, when first writing about NASCO, WND displayed the original homepage of NASCO, which used to open with a map highlighting the I-35 corridor from Mexico to Canada, arguing the trade group and its members were actively promoting a NAFTA superhighway.
NASCO’s original map highlighted the I-35 corridor from Mexico to Canada (See top of page)
Click to join catapultthepropaganda
Click to join openmindopencodenews
In what appears to be the third major revamping of the NASCO website since WND first began writing articles about NASCO, the Dallas-based trade group carefully removes identifying NASCO with the words behind the acronym, “North America’s SuperCorridor Coalition, Inc.,” which the original NASCO website once proudly
NASCO currently relegates the continental I-35 map to an internal webpage that describes the North American Inland Ports Network as a “working group” within NASCO that supports inland member cities who have designated themselves as “inland ports,” seeking to warehouse container traffic originating in Mexican
Jerome R. Corsi is a staff reporter for WND. He received a Ph.D. from Harvard
North American Union driver’s license created
Logo intended to standardize documentation across continent
Posted: September 6, 2007By Jerome R. Corsi
The first “North American Union” driver’s license, complete with a hologram of the continent on the reverse, has been created in North Carolina.
Gheen provided WND with a photo of an actual North Carolina license which clearly shows the hologram of the North American continent embedded on the reverse.
“The hologram looks exactly [like] the map of North America that is used as the background for the Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America logo on the SPP website,” Gheen told WND. “I object to the loss of sovereignty that is proceeding under the agreements being made by these unelected government bureaucrats who think we should be North American instead of the United States of America.
“To protest, I don’t plan on applying for a North Carolina driver’s license,” Gheen told WND, “even though I am a resident of the state. I don’t see how a Division of Motor Vehicles authorized in a Department of Transportation of a state of the United States can force me to have a license place that is designed with a North American Union insignia printed on the backside.
“My decision not to get a North Carolina driver’s license could have very difficult consequences for me,” Gheen told WND. “Without a valid driver’s license, I may not be able to drive a car, fly on an airplane, or enter a government building.”
Gheen told WND he does not have a U.S. passport.
|The framework on which the American Union is being pegged is the NAFTA Super Highway, a four football-fields-wide leviathan that stretches from southern …
How “public-private-partnerships” extract private profit from public infrastructure projects.
BY DARWIN BONDGRAHAM | NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2012
In 1995, California granted a private company the right to construct express toll lanes along the State Route 91 freeway in Orange County, a region inhabited by millions, with some of the heaviest traffic flows in the nation. This was the first modern privatized highway in the United States. The California Private Transportation Company (CPTC), a partnership of three corporations—Level 3 Communications, Granite Construction, Inc., and the French toll operator Cofiroute SA—completed the project with $130 million in mostly privately sourced money. To recoup this expense, and to make a profit, CPTC was given a 35-year concession to operate the toll route. State leaders promised that the private company would provide greater efficiency and savings, and that the public would benefit from clear and safe roads, even during a time of government budget constraints.
It did not take long for things to unravel. The SR-91 toll lanes did not unclog what local traffic reporters referred to as the “Corona Crawl,” so state and local officials sought to expand nearby highways to ease worsening congestion and improve safety. When transportation offices announced the improvement plans, CPTC unexpectedly filed a lawsuit, citing a non-compete clause in their contract to build and operate the toll lanes. The people of California were legally blocked from improving their highways because it could reduce private profits. In 2003, the Orange County Transportation Authority was forced to purchase the SR-91 toll lanes for $208 million to put an end to the fiasco.
In 2004, California’s state legislature halted the experiment in privatizing highways. But that did not stop other states from pushing forward with privatization. In Virginia and Texas, several major privatized freeways were built in the 2000s. Then, in 2009, things came full circle. California once again authorized so-called public-private partnerships to procure highways and other public goods. Although privatization of transportation projects has a tarnished record, owing much to California’s costly experiments over a decade ago, all across the United States major highway and other infrastructure upgrades are once again being handed over to private investors, now under the moniker of “public-private partnerships,” or P3.
P3 is at least three things:
It is a rebranding of privatization. The phrase purposefully evokes a win-win scenario involving equal “partners” working toward a common goal. Government leaders have been sold this new kind of privatization as a solution to declining tax revenues and borrowing capacity, while private companies claim to be offering their expertise and capital in a spirit of public service.
It is the result of a long ideological campaign against public-sector unions and “big government,” which conservative think tanks, pundits, and politicians blame for growing deficits and crumbling infrastructure. This worldview, meanwhile, hails private companies and the private profit motive as the bearers of efficiency and fiscal discipline.
Finally, P3 is obviously a money-making opportunity. It is propelled by an infrastructure-industrial complex composed of global construction corporations, investment banks, private-equity firms, and elite law firms organized as vertically integrated consortiums. Allied through their own trade associations, they are actively pressing for new laws to expand the types of public infrastructure from which they can extract profits, and in recent years they have been quietly succeeding.
A New Kind of Privatization
To understand the P3 privatization model, it is best to start with the basics of the traditional public model of infrastructure development. In the United States, this is known as the “design-bid-build” process. Take, for example, a state highway. State engineers usually design a project, sometimes by contracting out work to engineering firms. With blueprints ready, the state department of transportation allows companies to bid against one another for the construction contract. Meanwhile, the state borrows money by selling bonds, usually at low cost, because banks compete to serve as underwriters. The state then uses the bond proceeds to pay the lowest-bidding construction company to build the project. Bond holders are paid back over a longer period, usually from gasoline taxes or other tax revenues dedicated to infrastructure funding. The entire process is characterized by the monopoly power of the state (assumed to be acting in the public interest) forcing private companies to compete against one another, and so to drive down costs.
Privatization of transportation infrastructure under the P3 model is different from what we usually think of as privatization. Most people define privatization as the actual private ownership of roads, bridges, ports and other goods used by the public. The P3 version of privatization stops short of allowing investors to legally own a highway, instead offering private companies varying degrees of monopoly control (depending on the deal) over different parts of a project. Under the P3 model, investors can exercise greater control over the design, financing, construction, and maintenance of a public good, allowing them to extract profits from public infrastructure, without actually needing to literally own the asset.
South Bay Expressway:
A Failed P3
•Bank debt: $340 million
•Investor equity: $130 million
•TIFIA loan: $140 million
•Donated right of way: $48 million
San Diego’s South Bay Expressway (SBX) was the second privatized highway authorized for construction in the United States after California passed the nation’s first P3 legislation in 1989. The SBX was to be financed, built, maintained, and operated under a 35-year contract between California and the Parsons Brinckerhoff company.
Although P3s are said to transfer risks from the public to a private partner, which supposedly can better manage risk and reduce costs, the SBX is an example of how P3s create and multiply risks. Parsons Brinckerhoff spent much of its time fighting environmental and community opposition to the SBX, finally selling the nearly finalized plans to Macquarie Infrastructure Partners, an Australian investment bank, in 2003. During construction Macquarie also quarreled with the contractors, Fluor and URS Corp., two global construction giants, over cost overruns and delays. To make matters worse, the housing bubble was already showing signs of bursting in southern California; few of the homes planned along the toll highway were ever built, leading to far fewer drivers along the route than earlier projections.
No sooner did the toll road open to traffic than the Macquarie shell company that legally owned the road filed for bankruptcy, due to continuing disputes with construction contractors who had sought to recoup their losses, as well as the lower-than-expected traffic. This ended up costing the project’s private creditors and the federal government tens of millions of dollars. As a result of the bankruptcy, the U.S. Department of Transportation was forced to cut its claims against the company by about $80 million, a huge “haircut” for taxpayers.
P3 legislation reorganizes the infrastructure- procurement process to allow private investors to extract profits from various phases of a project.
A major source of profit is the suppression of market competition. The typical bidders on a P3 project are consortiums that include global construction companies, investment banks, private-equity firms, and engineering firms. Together, they can fulfill the design, finance, construction, operations, and maintenance obligations that P3 contracts require. Unlike the traditional infrastructure procurement process, the P3 model eliminates competitive bidding from later phases of a project. The consortiums only have to compete against a handful of other multi-billion dollar construction firms and investment banks to secure the initial contract for the entire project. The size and complexity of P3 contracts means that many smaller, more specialized companies are eliminated from bidding. P3 contracts therefore usually have few bidders and, as a result, a higher price tag.
By unifying a project under a single contract, moreover, P3 also provides significant authority to the private consortium to cut its own costs. P3 contractors can squeeze higher profits out of a project by altering its design, by using non-union subcontractors, or by paying lower wages.
Another source of profits derives from the byzantine financial arrangements at the heart of a typical P3 contract. Unlike traditional infrastructure projects, P3s involve the use of private equity and debt, along with public loan subsidies, to construct a highway. P3 projects depend on several sources of private financing. The so-called “equity” investment, usually drawn from the consortium partners’ own internal operating funds, gives them a small stake in a project’s construction phase. P3 proponents say that, with their own money at risk, the private partners have an incentive to deliver a project on time and below cost.
The main source of project financing, however, comes from investment banks that lend to the consortium partners. P3 proponents claim that this private financing source is a solution to the budgetary constraints of governments that face huge backlogs of deferred infrastructure investment. A recent Congressional Budget Office (CBO) report, however, shows the flaw in this argument: “The case is sometimes made that using funds from private capital markets to finance roads can increase the resources available to build, operate and maintain roads,” the report notes. “But the sources of revenues available to pay for the cost of a highway project —whether it uses the traditional financing approach or a public-private partnership—are the same: specifically, tolls paid by users or taxes collected by either the federal government or by state and local governments.”
The ultimate source of project financing, then, is always the public, either through tolls or taxes. Why then allow private banks, drawing from private capital markets, to serve as intermediaries? Private financing simply permits the insertion of the financial interests of investment banks and private-equity funds into the long-term wealth-producing potential of public infrastructure. By allowing private investors to fund the construction of a project, the state allows these parties to impose their monopolistic claims on future flows of tax or toll revenues.
Public Risks, Private Profits
Because privately financing and operating public infrastructure is actually more expensive than doing so through a public authority, the concept of risk becomes central to how P3 proponents justify infrastructure privatization. P3 advocates argue that the traditional design-bid-build model including public ownership, operation, and maintenance of a highway, exposes the state to risks that threaten to inflate the cost of a project.
Sources of risk include everything from changes in interest rates to labor strikes, and they can (and occasionally do) conspire to drive up a project’s cost. Proponents of the P3 model claim that, by handing a project’s finance, construction, and other phases over to a private consortium for a pre-determined price, the public transfers over these risks as well. The extra money the state must pay the P3 consortium—the private investors’ profits—are therefore justified because the private investors are now shouldering these risks. The state is said to obtain “value for money,” the value being less risk for an extra sum.
The P3 industry, however, has worked hard in recent years to make sure its members are, in fact, exposed to very little risk. For P3 projects built in California, Texas, Virginia, and Florida in the 1990s and early 2000s, industry profits were largely extracted from the public through tolls. Tolls, however, did not always produce the revenue necessary for the private companies to turn a profit. Several early P3 toll highways failed miserably after assumptions about traffic flows failed to pan out, causing bankruptcies, and leaving the public to foot much of the bill.
The South Bay Expressway in California, a private toll highway owned by the Australian investment bank Macquarie Capital, went bankrupt in 2010. A bankruptcy judge forced U.S. taxpayers who had subsidized the project with federal loans to take a 42% loss. The Camino Colombia Toll Road in Texas also went bankrupt after lower-than-expected traffic flows failed to produce toll revenues to repay investors. Camino Colombia was auctioned off in 2004. The road’s main creditor, John Hancock Life Insurance, purchased Camino Colombia for $12 million and then turned around and resold it to the Texas Department of Transportation the next year for $20 million.
Even though the public ended up footing much of the bill for failed toll-funded projects, the P3 industry’s lobbyists have pushed for a new, sure-thing revenue system. They have rewritten state laws in Alabama, Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Louisiana, Oregon, and Texas to shift toward an “availability payment” model. Availability payments are akin to lease payments, whereby the state pays the private developer of a highway to maintain the road for public use. Rather than collecting tolls from drivers who use the route, the state pays the private developer directly from general state revenues collected through a gasoline tax or other taxes. Availability payments protect P3 developers against the risks associated with toll-road financing because the road’s owners no longer have to estimate future traffic flows, or rely on macro-economic trends beyond their control, like regional housing bubbles. They simply are guaranteed payments directly from the state over a span of several decades.
Although P3s are advertised as tapping the power of private capital markets to invest in public infrastructure, the reality is that P3 investors enjoy large public subsidies. For example, private companies building P3 highway projects now routinely expect states to grant them authority to issue qualified private activity bonds (PABs). Unlike most lending in private capital markets, interest payments on PABs are exempt from federal taxes (because the cash proceeds are expected to be put to use building goods with broad public utility, rather than projects that solely benefit private parties). Since the bonds are not taxed, they allow the borrower to obtain cash at less cost. This form of financing, then, is essentially a tax cut for the investment banks and corporations with the P3 contract. The U.S. Department of Transportation also routinely grants Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA) loans to P3 developers. TIFIA loans provide companies with much cheaper interest rates and more flexible terms than anything available in the private capital markets—again because the public subsidizes them.
P3 companies, in short, are now virtually guaranteed returns on their investments. The shift away from tolls and the growing use of availability payments means P3 investors no longer need worry about traffic flows. Guaranteed lease payments, together with the low interest rates of federally subsidized loans and tax-exempt bonds they use to pay for construction, mean sure profits.
Meanwhile, P3 arrangements create a whole new set of risks for governments and the public. Complex contractual obligations, designed to protect private profits, hand over discretionary power to private companies while tying the hands of state officials. A recent report on P3s from the California Legislative Analyst Office notes that, by allowing private corporations to possess a financial interest in public infrastructure, the government incurs the “greater possibility for unforeseen challenges,” while its “flexibility” to respond to these challenges is limited.
California’s Latest P3 Experiment
Hochtief: a German construction company operating nine privatized toll roads in Greece, Germany, Austria, and Chile. Hochtief also has contracts to build and operate 123 schools in Canada, Germany, Ireland and the UK, and to build and operate 18 police stations in Canada, examples of what the company calls “social infrastructure” development. Meridiam Infrastructure: a French private equity fund owned and operated by the Credit Agricole bank. Meridiam has “equity” stakes in private highways and railways in Canada, France, the UK, Poland, Slovakia, and Finland. In the United States Meridiam is behind the P3 North Tarrant Expressway toll road in Texas and the Port of Miami Tunnel in Florida.
Investor equity: $44.5 million
TAX-EXEMPT (SUBSIDIZED) PRIVATE FINANCING:
Private activity bonds: $150 million
IFIA loan: $150 million
In 2010, the outgoing Republican administration of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger moved fast to select a project intended to prove the merits of P3 development. They chose Presidio Parkway, a 1.6 mile stretch of road running from the edge of downtown San Francisco to the iconic Golden Gate Bridge.
When it was first planned by the state as a traditional design-bid-build project, Presidio Parkway had a price tag of $499 million. By switching to a P3 contract, under which a private partner would finance, build, operate, and maintain the road for 30 years, the up-front construction cost dropped to roughly $173 million. However, the state would have to make availability payments of at least $30 million a year for 30 years upon the road’s completion 2015. These availability payments are estimated to total between $1.1 and $1.4 billion, but no one can say exactly what they will cost the state because the actual payments must be calculated from a complex formula measuring the contractor’s compliance with a variety of performance measures.
Two state agencies opposed conversion of Presidio Parkway into a P3 project. Staff members of the California Transportation Commission (CTC), the state’s ultimate authority on infrastructure matters, complained that use of availability payments “would effectively establish and endorse a means of committing state transportation funds that bypasses state programming procedures designed to ensure statewide funding accountability and equity.” California’s Legislative Analyst Office (LAO) also opposed privatization of the roadway on these grounds. Most recently, the LAO analyzed the project’s financing, concluding that Presidio Parkway is probably costing taxpayers an extra $140 million as a P3.
The Professional Engineers in California Government, a union of state employees, filed suit to block the use of availability payments to finance the Presidio Parkway, calling the project “wasteful,” but a state judge ruled against the union.
The Infrastructure Industrial Complex
Given the magnitude of profits to be made, powerful companies have invested considerable time and resources to push P3-authorization laws through more than 30 state legislatures. The handful of global construction companies, investment banks, and private equity firms that dominate the P3 market today spend millions each year lobbying lawmakers in key U.S. states. Besides shopping around bills to authorize highway privatization, they are now expanding into the privatization of public-building projects (like court buildings), parking garages and metering systems, and other so-called “social infrastructure.”
Elite law firms shop around legislation for P3 authorization in numerous state capitals. For example, the Los Angeles law firm Nossaman, LLP, straightforwardly explains on its web site that, “our PPP model legislation offers local, regional, and state lawmakers a valuable blueprint for authorizing legislation.” A big slice of Nossaman’s income comes from advising private investors and construction companies bidding on P3 contracts, so the firm has a lucrative material stake in passing P3 laws in as many states as possible. With support from major P3 contractors, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a conservative, pro-corporate organization focused on pushing “model legislation” in statehouses nationwide, is now backing public-private partnerships. The group has endorsed a model state law, the “Establishing A Public-Private Partnership (PPP) Authority Act,” introduced by a vice president of the Australian investment bank Macquarie Capital. Macquarie is a corporate member of ALEC.
Some current government officials speak frequently at industry conferences to promote P3. For example, in October 2012, José Luís Moscovich of the San Francisco Transportation Authority lectured attendees of the Bond Buyer’s West Coast Finance Conference about the Presidio Parkway road, privatized under a 30-year contract with the German construction company Hochtief and French investment bank Meridiam. Former government officials are also involved in P3 promotion, both working for private companies and think tanks. For example, Dale Bonner, head of the state Business, Trans-portation, and Housing Agency under ex-California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, now works as the principal partner of Cal-Infra Advisers, Inc., a lobbyist and consultancy that works with P3 developers seeking contracts. Bonner also promotes P3 policy from his position as a senior advisor at the Milken Institute. The Reason Foundation, arguably the intellectual home of P3 privatization, helped write California’s first P3 law in 1989. Since 2009, its vice president for policy has sat on California’s Public Infrastructure Advisory Commission, the state board tasked with identifying highway projects to privatize. The Reason Foundation has also been a corporate member of ALEC.
P3 investors have even created their own national trade association, the National Council for Public Private Partnerships (NCPPP), which has developed “tool kits” for state legislators. The NCPPP also circulates a press kit that attempts to dissuade reporters from thinking that “when the private sector is involved… citizens will eventually have to pay more for services” or from asking whether “private companies take short cuts in providing services in order to increase pro?ts.” Existing trade groups like the American Road and Transportation Builders Association have supported P3 privatization by hosting events such as the annual Public-Private Partnerships in Transportation Conference, a national gathering of major contractors, law firms, banks, and lawmakers.
The Public Interest
Despite the P3 industry’s influence, privatization of public infrastructure is anything but assured in the United States. The numerous problems with, and sordid history of privatization undermines public acceptance and official support. P3 procurement costs more. It generates as many new risks for the public as it supposedly eliminates. Additionally there is the matter of institutional inertia; state and local transportation agencies have procured infrastructure through the public design-bid-build method for over a century now. Shifting to the P3 model requires complex changes in the law and transformations of government procedures, as well as whole new skill sets for state officials, none of which simply happens without enormous time and effort to change the culture of government. P3 faces resistance for these and other reasons.
In spite of these barriers, privatization’s advocates have scored significant victories in Texas, Virginia, Florida, Illinois, and most recently California. In California, the Professional Engineers in California Government, a union of state engineers, sued to block conversion of the half-billion dollar Presidio Parkway into a billion-plus dollar P3 project. Even though the union’s legal argument was echoed by two state agencies, which doubted that California’s 2009 P3 law authorizes the use of availability payments, a judge ruled against the union, and allowed the project to proceed.
California’s Legislative Analyst Office (LAO) criticized transportation officials who approved Presidio Parkway’s P3 conversion, saying in a November 2012 report that privatization of the road likely cost taxpayers an extra $140 million, but this analysis went virtually unreported in regional newspapers. Besides the union and the largely toothless LAO, there has been no other opposition from the public or watchdog groups. As California officials plan to privatize as many as four more freeways in the Los Angeles area, there is little sign of organized resistance to these plans.
The Ohio Public Interest Research Group (PIRG) recently issued a study critical of plans to privatize the Ohio Turnpike, a 241-mile publicly owned and operated toll road, debunking the rationale that doing so would generate dollars to immediately invest in other state roadways. PIRG researchers are posing questions that similarly confront privatization plans in other states: If cost-savings measures can generate savings, why can’t the state introduce the same measures a private operator would? How might a contract with a private operator constrain the state’s ability improve parallel public roadways? What downsides might there be if motorists seeking to avoid the increased tolls end up crowding onto nearby roadways?
For whatever reason, though, organized opposition to public-private partnerships across state lines and on a national level, confronting the national infrastructure-industrial complex that P3 proponents have assembled, does not exist today. Opposition to privatization of infrastructure in the United States is piecemeal and inconsistent, so that P3 projects often proceed without any critical analysis.
Perhaps this is because of the relatively early and small scale of P3 projects, with only an estimated 377 ever completed in the United States, compared to tens of thousands of traditionally financed roads. Only a tiny fraction of transportation infrastructure in the U.S. has ever been handed over to private investors. The complexity of P3 deals may also explain the relative lack of opposition: contracts involve multiple bank creditors, private-equity investors, multiple legal and technical advisers, hundreds of pages of binding obligations, and strange formulas determining payments due over the term of a concession.
Finally, many officials and the public may be sold, at least partially, on the notion that the solution to government budget shortfalls is to tap private capital to build infrastructure. Whatever the reason may be, as various states move ahead with privatization plans for highways and other infrastructure, controversies are likely to erupt over the financial terms, new risks to the public, and the fact that P3s do not actually alleviate budget constraints, and may indeed exacerbate them.
DARWIN BONDGRAHAM is a sociologist and journalist who writes about political economy. He lives and works in the San Francisco Bay Area and blogs at darwinbondgraham.wordpress.com.