I-69: Another NAFTA Superhighway

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I-69: Yet Another NAFTA Super-Highway
by Jerome R. Corsi
Human Events Online
September 12, 2006

Another NAFTA Super-Highway is moving state-by-state from the planning stage to the funding and construction process. As listed on the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration’s website, the “I-69 Corridor” is planned to connect Mexico and Canada through Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas, Mississippi, Tennessee, Kentucky, Indiana, Illinois and Michigan.

Still, skeptics — even congressmen and senators in the nine states where the I-69 corridor will be built — continue to charge that any idea that NAFTA Super-Highways are being built are nothing more than “internet conspiracy theories.”

Even NASCO (North America’s SuperCorridor Coalition, Inc.) continues to be in denial, refusing to acknowledge that any NAFTA Super-Highways are being built. A second NASCO homepage makeover reflecting a new public relations attempt by NASCO to defuse criticism now lists a “NASCO FAQs” section, which opens to a .pdf file letter on NASCO stationary. In response to the question, “Will the NAFTA Superhighway be four football fields wide?” NASCO answers: “There is no new, proposed ‘NAFTA Superhighway.’” Next, NASCO attempts to redefine the “SuperCorridor” in its name as a reference not to a “super-highway,” but intermodal integration along the “existing ‘NASCO Corridor.’”

We have previously argued that as a trade association NASCO itself will never build any highway of any type, but we continue to argue that NASCO’s members, such as the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT), are very actively involved in creating substantial NAFTA corridor infrastructure, including super-highways. Moreover, NASCO not yet responded to our challenge that NASCO repudiate the plans of TxDOT to build the planned Trans-Texas Corridor (TTC-35), the first leg of the NAFTA Super-Highway planned to stretch into Canada parallel to I-35. Otherwise, NASCO is just dealing in semantics, trying to distinguish “Super-Corridors” from “Super-Highways,” or defeating their own straw argument on the basis that we somehow presumed that a trade organization like NASCO would be required to build a NAFTA Super-Highway in order to support a NAFTA Super-Highway one of their members was building.

We need turn no further than the TxDOT’s TTC-35 website to find evidence linking the I-69 NAFTA Super-Highway project to the I-35 NAFTA Super-Highway project. There the TxDOT openly admits the reality:

Interstate 69 is a planned 1,600-mile national highway connecting Mexico, the United States and Canada. Eight states are involved in the project. In Texas, I-69 will be developed under the Trans-Texas Corridor master plan.

The TTC-35 website further acknowledges that:

Congress passed several pieces of legislation defining the I-69 corridor. Legislation included ISTEA (1991), 1993 DOT Appropriations Act, 1995 National Highway System Designation Act and TEA-21 (1998).

Further, the TTC-35 website indicates that TxDOT anticipates completing the I-69/TTC environmental impact statement in fall 2007 and receiving federal approval in winter 2007. The TTC-35 website includes a proposed I-69/TTC map and a schedule of the locations where 37 public hearings were held during July and August 2006 in Texas to review I-69/TTC “recommended corridor alternatives.”

The Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development (LaDOT) acknowledges conducting a I-69 environmental and location study in conjunction with the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) to study a proposed route through Bossier, Cado and DeSoto Parishes. As described on the LaDOT website: “The proposed highway is part of the I-69 Corridor, which will link Indianapolis, Indiana to the lower Rio Grande Valley in Texas.” The description of the I-69 Corridor on the LaDOT website echoes the description on the TxDOT website:

Interstate 69 is a 1,600 mile-long national highway that will ultimately connect Canada to Mexico. I-69 traverses nine states from the Gulf of Mexico and Texas’s Golden Triangle, through the Mississippi Delta, the Midewst, to the industrial north and, finally, to Canada.

Again, LaDOT has obtained federal highway funds to begin construction and a series of final public hearings were announced for July 2006.

We find similar I-69 Corridor discussions on the state department of transportation websites in Arkansas, Mississippi, Tennessee, Kentucky, Indiana and Michigan. The only state department of transportation website that does not have a specific discussion of the I-69 Corridor is Illinois. The FHWA specifies that the involvement of Illinois in the I-69 corridor is limited and that the current plan is that the I-69 Corridor in Illinois will utilize the existing roads, particularly I-94 from Chicago to Detroit. The I-69 Corridor will cross the U.S. border with Canada in Port Huron, Mich., continuing in Canada as Highway 402 in Ontario.

The FHWA has defined the I-69 corridor as a “Megaproject,” defined as “a major transportation project that costs at least $1 billion and attracts a high level of public attention or political interest because of their impact on the community, environment, and State budgets.” We realize how the FHWA considers Texas and the TTC to be an essential component of the coming system of planed NAFTA Super-Highways, including I-69, when we consult a FHWA map that portrays Texas as the critical NAFTA/CAFTA gateway into the United States.

The FHWA caption under this map reads:

This map of the United States shows the heavy volume of freight shipped through Texas, a major trade gateway from Mexico and South America, as red lines branching out from the heart of the Lone Star State.

This same FHWA report ties together how the FHWA view the strategic purpose of the I-69 Corridor and the TTC as combined:

The second section under study, I-69/TTC, extends from northeast Texas to the Mexican border, incorporating about 1,600 kilometers (1,000 miles) of the planned I-69 corridor. Although part of a national project, I-69/TTC is being developed in Texas under the Trans-Texas Corridor master plan. I-69 is a 2,570-kilometer (1,600 mile) national highway that, once completed, will connect Mexico, the United States, and Canada. Other States involved in the I-60 project include Arkansas, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisana, Michigan, Mississippi, and Tenessee. The planned location for I-69, designated by the U.S. Congress in the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act of 1991 (ISTEA) was chose because of the economic opportunities that could be created along the north-south corridor, especially those related to increased trade resulting from NAFTA.

We are struck by the close similarity between this FHWA language and the language used by states such as Texas and Louisiana in describing the I-69 corridor. Reading this language should leave no doubt that the I-69 Corridor is envisioned by the FHWA to be truly a NAFTA Super-Highway. Any congressman or senator, especially one who represents a state affected by the I-69 Corridor, who argues differently or who appears unaware of the I-69 NAFTA Super-Highway is admitting their own negligence in oversight responsibilities, if not also in just plain public awareness as a citizen of their respective states.

Anyone doubting the importance of NAFTA Super-Highways to the Bush Administration should reflect on President Bush’s nomination last Tuesday of Mary Peters to be the next secretary of Transportation replacing Norm Mineta. Ms. Peters served as the head of the FHWA in the Bush administration as the TTC and I-69 Corridor projects were being developed.