Monday, December 04, 2006


NAFTA Super-Disasta

American Free Press | December 4, 2006
Mark Anderson

American Free Press has learned that a group of foreign companies, which
currently lease a toll road in Indiana and are looking at buying up other
highways across the country, has its eyes on the Trans-Texas Corridor, or
TTC. The TTC is a planned toll road system through the Lone Star State that
will largely be used for trucking foreign merchandise into the United States
on the wings of the North American Free Trade Agreement.

It will be a major leg of the so-called "NAFTA Superhighway," and, according
to watchdog groups, it will lead to more cheap goods flooding the country
and will be devastating to the U.S.-based trucking industry.

In the April 17, 2006 edition, AFP reported that ITR Concessions LLC, a
partnership of Cintra of Spain and the McQuarie Bank of Australia, spent
$3.85 billion to lease the Indiana Toll Road from the state for 75 years.

Now that same coalition is branching out into Texas. On Nov. 21, the
Internet version of The Lone Star Iconoclast, a Crawford, Tex.-based
publication, reported that Todd Spencer, the executive vice president of the
Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, or OOIDA, "is asking
truckers to bypass the Indiana Toll Road that has been leased to the Spanish
consortium, Cintra, the same outfit that Gov. [Rick] Perry and TXDOT (The
Texas Department of Transportation) contracted with to operate the hated
Trans Texas Corridor."

According to Spencer, McQuarie will also be involved in the TTC. Steve
Bonney, a Lafayette, Ind., farmer who helped fight this arrangement in
Indiana courts, revealed then that some of that money would be used to
extend Interstate 69 from Indianapolis to the Kentucky border. From there
I-69 would proceed into south Texas by the Mexican border, eventually
becoming yet another conduit in the vast network of "NAFTA tollways" being
envisioned. Interstate 69 ends to the north in Port Huron, Mich., at the
Canadian border.

An Oct. 26 OOIDA pre-election news bulletin noted, "Texas lawmakers made a
very big mistake when they overwhelmingly voted in 2003 to move forward with
Gov. Rick Perry's plan for the Trans-Texas Corridor-they did it despite
overwhelming public sentiment against the effort. The corridor
is an intermodal route that would cut across Texas from the Mexican border
to Oklahoma and include toll lanes."

Cintra is teaming up with Zachry, a San Antonio firm, for the project's
planning phase.

"The Associated Press released an analysis of a campaign ad . . .
erroneously stating that Spain-based Cintra holds a 65% equity position in
Cintra Zachry LP. That's wrong. The correct equity position is 85% with
Zachry Construction holding the small 15% equity balance, noted a report on, a web site that is monitoring the growth of the NAFTA
Superhighway. features a map on its web site that reveals various TTC
segments that crisscross Texas.

Activist Sal Costello of People for Efficient Transportation, based in
Austin, Tex., told AFP that while much of the Texas public is perhaps dimly
aware of the TTC, the concept behind the TTC is becoming better known and
opposition to it is increasing, especially since the Nov. 7 gubernatorial

In the lead-up to the election, three of the four candidates, particularly
Independent Carol Strayhorn, opposed the TTC and made it one of their top
campaign issues. Not surprisingly, incumbent Perry, who was reelected, did
not mention the TTC. Despite this, the mainstream media throughout Texas
largely ignored the issue.

Costello told AFP that officials would like Americans to believe that work
has not commenced on the TTC. However, he said ground has actually been
broken on the TTC. He pointed out that highway 130, a north-south segment
that will stretch 49 miles when completed sometime in 2007, is already
partially finished.

Costello also said that while some TTC sections represent new tollway
construction, existing freeways already paid for with tax dollars are being
converted into tollways. "It's a combination of a land grab, which is the
TTC, and a road grab, which is the conversion of our freeways," he said.

Traditionally, motorists use tollways as an alternative to other
taxpayer-financed interstates. However, if these Texas developments
continue, Costello said, most drivers there will be forced to use tollways.
Furthermore, voter-approved bond dollars for more traditional Texas
transportation needs are being diverted into toll road plans.

The TTC is one of many planned routes for which land will have to be gobbled
up to lay pavement, to run utility lines and to construct new railroad
routes on the way to Kansas City, Mo., a major hub for these free trade

Even though Kansas City is some 1,000 miles away from the Southern border,
it will function as a U.S. Customs inspection point. Activists believe it is
likely that eminent domain land grabs will soar in the coming years as the
project steams on. Texas was not among the states with eminent domain
restrictions on the ballot Nov. 7.

Spencer noted the TTC will largely be used by truckers from Mexico, who will
be transporting goods from Mexico, China and other nations where people work
for slave wages.

"The Bush Administration is bending over backwards to accommodate Mexican
trucks coming into the United States," said Spencer. "Worldwide, trucks are
the weapons of choice of terrorists. Nobody is going to check [what is
really in that truck]. We evidently have a lot of people in the U.S. who
have lost their minds."

Spencer said Mexican truckers will be able to go anywhere once they cross
the border. Since Mexico does not have stringent safety regulations, there
is no way to verify the safety of Mexican trucks or drivers. He doubts that
anyone will do background checks on drivers before they can enter the United

Spencer said the TTC will be devastating to domestic truckers and freight

TXDOT wants to charge truckers 40 cents a mile to travel the TTC. "This is
the equivalent of about $2.40 (per gallon) in just new fuel taxes," said
Spencer. "If gas were $2.60 a gallon, that would be equivalent to gas at $5
a gallon."

Furthermore, an anti-competition clause in the Cintra contract reportedly
prohibits Texas from making improvements to parallel routes. Therefore,
highway users "will be forced to use the TTC toll roads even if Texas has to
close down lanes on existing highways," said Spencer.

Some whopper TTC routes may be one-quarter-mile wide, with up to six lanes,
in each direction and room for utility lines and rail lines.

Spencer told AFP that international investors are drooling at the prospects
of acquiring U.S. toll roads in 35 states, including in Pennsylvania where
State Rep. Rick Geist of the House Transportation Committee plans early in
2007 to introduce House Bill 1 to sell or lease the Pennsylvania Turnpike to
the highest bidder. Spencer said the terms "sell" and "lease" are synonymous
when it comes to toll road deals, since many agreements last for 75 years or

"This is the latest Wall Street craze," Spencer said. In Illinois, elected
officials have been resisting a proposed toll bridge, largely funded by
foreign investors, over the Mississippi River from Illinois to St. Louis,
Mo. Spencer thinks Illinois officials will be lobbied hard to change their

"Goldman Sachs made more than $20 million on the Indiana Toll Road deal,"
Spencer told AFP. "This is U.S. transportation policy coming right from the
White House-sell our roads."

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