Highway Bill Contains Free Trade Superhighways


The Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act, or FAST Act, is a mere 1,317 pages — and is the first full-fledged highway bill in 10 years. Recently signed into law, it covers highways, bridges, rail, public safety, high-tech freight tracking and various other categories. But lurking inside, under Section 1416, are several free-trade superhighway routes.

Terri Hall of Texans Uniting for Reform and Freedom (TURF), one of the most visible groups protecting the property rights of those in these super-corridor paths, has for years worked with other determined Texans to fight the massive Texas portion of the NAFTA superhighway — known as the Trans-Texas Corridor (TTC). Their Herculean efforts have slowed down and sometimes sidelined that project, yet it reawakens like Dracula in the night, under new names.

But along comes FAST, which lists various sections of superhighway routes in Texas and beyond. The new bill shows a broadening effort to create an array of transnational highway and rail corridors, largely for distributing vast amounts of imported products.

In advancing these trade corridors, Congress amended the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act of 1991. According to Hall, under the FAST Act, “Congress quietly advanced several corridors of the NAFTA superhighway system, like Interstate-11.”

I-11 envisions initially linking Phoenix, Arizona to Las Vegas. It would ultimately run from Nogales, Arizona at the Mexican border, onward to northeast Washington State, establishing a key trade route from Mexico to Canada.

“There are 12 highway segments added as ‘high priority corridors’ within the FAST Act,” Hall noted, in her article posted at the website of the Selous Foundation for Public Policy Research. “I-11 is the Intermountain West Corridor that’s part of the western offshoot of a primary set of NAFTA corridors known as CANAMEX.”

Previously, TURF fought TTC-35 and TTC-69 in east-central Texas, which refer to US Interstates 35 and 69, whose existing routes would be followed or subsumed by larger super-highways if fully completed.

The core idea is to maintain and extend super-long international supply chains and trade routes, in order to bind nations to the “global grid” and override their economic autonomy.

This involves shipping Pacific Rim goods to Mexican Pacific Ocean ports, while largely or completely bypassing the busy Long Beach and Los Angeles seaports that employ American longshoremen, before moving the goods into the US and Canada via truck and rail.

“The FAST Act is the first long-term highway bill to pass in over a decade, but it failed to enact any major reforms, failed to shore-up the funding shortfall in the federal highway program, and keeps most federal programs, like the NAFTA superhighways, euphemistically called ‘high priority corridors,’ on auto-pilot for the next 5 years quietly eluding public scrutiny, while advancing the establishment’s global trade agenda,” Hall noted in her online article.

She added: Some have tried to convince the public that the Trans-Texas Corridor and NAFTA Superhighways are dead, never existed or are even a myth. Yet, Congress recently passed a new, two-year federal highway bill called Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21) that not only gives priority funding to these “high priority” trade corridors, but also makes it easier to hand them over to private multi-national corporations using controversial public-private partnership contract arrangements that promote and enhance the tolling of America at the taxpayer’s expense.

The FAST Act foresees a corridor called the Central Texas Corridor from I-10, following Route 190 eastward to Highway 63. “Plus the Intermountain West Corridor, from the vicinity of Las Vegas, Nevada, north along United States Route 95 terminating at Interstate Route 80,” the bill’s text says.

Moreover, there’s a corridor along “Interstate Route 70 from Denver, Colorado, to Salt Lake City, Utah,” the text adds, while listing several others, including: “Interstate Route 81 in New York from its intersection with Interstate Route 86 to the United States-Canadian border.”

Most of these “high priority corridors” are segments of the overall North American trade-corridor system — which ultimately connects US trade hubs and ports with Canadian and Mexican hubs and ports, meaning that projects appear piecemeal but are part of a larger plan.

“Both the Central Texas Corridor and the Intermountain West Corridor also achieved Interstate status in the bill, with the Central Texas Corridor officially designated as Interstate-14 and the Intermountain West Corridor as Interstate-11,” Hall further explained. “This ... qualifies these corridors for federal grants ... [that] they couldn’t otherwise access, including ‘intelligent’ transportation system grants to track commercial vehicles.”

Thus, big business, a kingly constituent of Republican lawmakers who say they abhor welfare, can access taxpayer funds to grease the wheels for private deals. It’s always a question of whose welfare.

Mark Anderson is a veteran journalist who divides his time between Texas and Michigan. Email him at truthhound2@yahoo.com.

From The Progressive Populist, April 15, 2016


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