NASCO Alters Super-Corridor Message

NASCO has altered the organization’s website homepage, apparently in direct response to the North American Union series we have published here, including discussion of NASCO and NAFTA SuperHighways.

NASCO appears to be reacting from recent publicity deriving from our argument that NASCO actively supports the goals of their members, including the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) and the Kansas City SmartPort. TxDOT plans to start the first segment of the Trans-Texas Corridor (TTC) as early as next year and the Kansas City SmartPort plans to house a Mexican customs operation within their Inland Port design. These are new infrastructure developments along the North American NAFTA Super-Corridor that NASCO as a trade organization was created to support.

A box has been inserted to the left of the NASCO map on the homepage, emphasizing the following:

This map is not a blueprint or plan of any kind. The Infrastructure depicted on this map is not drawn to scale. The highways shown EXIST today, and have been enlarged to highlight the NASCO Corridor focus area. The rail lines have been placed on the map to show NASCO’s multimodal approach.

The subtitle on the home page still reads “Secure Multi-Modal Transportation System,” evidently referring to the automobile, truck, and railroad nature of the “NASCO Super-Corridor” described in the top title on the page. By so adding to the homepage, NASCO appears engaged in a public relations marketing effort to defuse concerns that the organization supports any new NAFTA Super-Highway development that would include TTC features.

This modification to the homepage echoes an email the author received from Tiffany Melvin, NASCO’s Executive Director, on June 23, 2006, in which she wrote:

If the map were drawn to scale, it would be very difficult to see our focus area. The map is designed for marketing purposes, to highlight the highways we are focusing on. It is for our Coalition. That’s it.

An insert box has been placed on the homepage in the Atlantic Ocean area east of Massachusetts, reading “NASCO Myths Debunked.” We understand that our articles are among the “myths” intended to be “debunked.” The first line of text in the 4-page document linked to the “debunked box” reads: “There is no new, proposed ‘NAFTA Superhighway.” The next paragraph seems to say the NAFTA Super-Highway already exists — it is evidently the current I-35:

As of late, there has been much media attention given to the “new, proposed NAFTA Superhighway.” NASCO and the cities, counties, states and provinces along our existing Interstate Highways 35/29/94 (the NASCO Corridor) have been referring to I-35 as the “NAFTA Superhighway” for many years, as I-35 already carries a substantial amount of international trade with Mexico, the United States and Canada. There are no plans to build a new NAFTA Superhighwary — it exists today as I-35.

The “debunked text” even wants to de-emphasize the “Super” in the NASCO “Super Corridor” name. As Ms. Melvin expressed in a June 22, 2006 email to the author:

We have been using the name “SuperCorridor” since 1996. It does not mean huge, mega highway. We use “Super” in the sense of “more inclusive than a specialized category” (dictionary definition). Like Superman was not a huge, giant four football field wide man. He was MORE than a man. We are MORE than a highway coalition. We work to promote the use of multiple modes of transportation. We work on economic development along the corridor. We work on environmental issues. We work on networking inland ports. We work on developing business relationships for our members.

Perhaps NASCO would be well advised to review the Trans-Texas Corridor website of its member TxDOT agency. There the 4,000 page Environmental Impact Study (EIS) clearly describes the 1,200 foot new Super-Highway that TxDOT plans to build parallel to I-35. Page 4 of the EIS Executive Summary shows an artist’s rendition of the full build-out of the TTC-35 concept, an automobile-truck-railroad corridor with a utility space for energy pipelines and electronic circuits, along with tower electricity strung out on the perimeter. No artist’s conception of the TTC drawn by the TxDOT bears any resemblance to the current I-35 in Texas or anywhere else.

This TTC-35 description belies NASCO’s contention that the organization does not support the constructing any new Super-Highway infrastructure.

Perhaps NASCO wants to advance the argument that no state north of Texas will continue the TTC-35 project to connect through Oklahoma City with the Kansas City SmartPort, continuing north toward Duluth, or that TTC-35. As we have already shown, the investment bankers and international capitalists who are funding the development of TTC-35 can be expected to develop extend this NAFTA Super-Highway north, whether NASCO or the states north of Texas have the funds or current plans to do so.

From a public relations point of view, NASCO’s emphasis that the “NASCO Super-Corridor” only involves existing highways, truck routes, and rail lines is a strategy consistent with a desire to stay below the radar of public awareness, so as to avoid criticism that might otherwise stop or impede NASCO’s true mission — to support the development of a NAFTA Super-Highway, either through enhancements to the existing north-south corridor along Interstate Highways 35/29/94 (the NASCO Corridor), or any Super-Highway enhancements its members initiate, including the TTC and the Mexican customs facility in the Kansas City SmartPort.

Today, there are some 50,000 miles of interstate highway in the U.S. and the TxDOT is proposing a full build-out of the TTC network that will build some 4,000 miles of TTC Super-Highways in Texas over the next 50 years. The TTC project at full development will involve the removal of as much as 584,000 acres of productive Texas farm and ranchland from the tax rolls permanently, while displacing upwards of 1 million people from their current residences. The 11 separate corridors planned will permanently cut across some 1,200 Texas roads, with cross-over unlikely for much of the nearly quarter-mile corridor planned to be built. Our research shows that dozens of small towns in Texas will be virtually obliterated in the bath of the advancing TTC behemoth. Reviewing statistics such as these, we can see why NASCO might prefer a low profile, preferring to stay below the radar of public scrutiny.

We also note that George Blackwood, NASCO President, attended the January 10-11 meeting in Louisville, Kentucky, held by the Council of the Americas and the North American Business Committee to conduct a “Public/Private Sector Dialogue” on the Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America. A key finding of this meeting was that associations in the U.S. organized to promote particular corridors needed since the dawning of SPP in Waco, Texas, on March 23, 2005, to coordinate their efforts in a less provincial style, more reflective of the North American regional orientation of SPP itself:

For instance, conversation at the Louisville forum raised the potential for commonalities and/or synergies between disparate transportation efforts in the US Midwest (the “SuperCorridor” initiative), the North American West (“CANAMEX Corridor”), and in the Southeast United States and Mexico (the “Gulf of Mexico Trade Corridor” initiative). Before SPP, there was no obvious mechanism through which to promote coordination of these discrete activities.

The Louisville SPP meeting also advised “the establishment of bilateral or trilateral commissions to facilitate border and cross-border infrastructure.”

While the NASCO “debunking text” is correct in asserting that NASCO is a trade organization, not a government organization, NASCO officers appear deeply involved in working with federal and state departments of transportation, local and state governments, and regulatory agencies in promoting the goal of developing a “Super Corridor” structure for “integrating” the U.S., Canada, and Mexico into a corridor-dimensioned transportation system to promote NAFTA trade. NASCO trade organization professionals evidently are much more comfortable working in professional SPP conferences and dealing with government bureaucrats in the closed confines of their offices than answering the questions that public citizens are openly discussing on the Internet.

The NASCO “debunking text” continually asserts that a primary NASCO concern is transportation security, much as SPP itself asserts that the North American Partnership is put in place to promote security and prosperity, two goals SPP could assume no one would object to pursuing. The idea seems to be that NASCO wants to present itself as only concerned about security and efficiency as the volume of traffic on the existing “NASCO SuperCorriror” of existing interstate highways gets expanded under NAFTA.

NASCO’s “debunking text” asserts that the organization’s mission is “develop (NOT BUILD) the world’s first international, integrated and secure, multi-modal transportation system along the International Mid-Continent Trade and Transportation to improve both the trade competitiveness and quality of life in North America.”

Given this, we have a challenge. Let’s see NASCO come forward and repudiate the TTC-35 plans of their TxDOT member, because clearly the TTC-35 plan to build 4-football-field-lengths wide of NAFTA Super-Highway corridors is inconsistent with NASCO’s goal as expressed in the “debunking text” of only using existing transportation infrastructure. We also challenge NASCO to come forward and repute the Mexican customs facility plans of its Kansas City SmartPort member. Otherwise, we will assert that NASCO is continuing to say one thing for public relations effect, while doing something quite different — quietly supporting their members as the members build the “new and improved” NAFTA Super-Highway infrastructure along the NASCO Corridor.