Ghost Road

| May 16, 2007

The concerns came after aspirations to develop a Mexican customs preclearance station for overground shipments emerged under a bright spotlight during the summer’s immigration fever. The move for the Mexican customs facility is an attempt to shift shipping paradigms and streamline border procedures in direct line with NASCO’s I-35 corridor initiatives (KC Smartport is a NASCO member).

SmartPort took its cue partly from the U.S. Customs Service’s Container Security Initiative, which places U.S. customs officers in foreign ports to prescreen cargo headed for the U.S. ports. “We knew this kind of thing was being talked about, so we positioned ourselves with the goal of economic development in Kansas City,” says President Chris Gutierrez. KC Smartport’s founding, in 2001, preceded the Container Security Initiative by months.

Trucks utilizing the would-be facility would have their loads precleared there for shipment to Mexico and the trailers electronically sealed and then tracked by GPS satellites. At the border, they would get expedited service by Mexican customs agents.

It would be the first facility of its kind on U.S. soil, and the precedent it would set is unclear. It’s been tied up in “U.S. diplomatic channels” now for more than a year, as reported by the Kansas City Star’s Rick Alm.

But press officers at U.S. Customs & Border Protection have never heard of anything like it, and only recently has there been any notion whatsoever of reciprocity in Mexico. Alm reported in December that Hector Marquez Solis, Mexico’s NAFTA minister to Washington, “said his nation is now pushing for a U.S. customs operation in Mexico that would similarly hasten the flow of Mexican goods across the border.”

The Trans-Texas Corridor: Myth Vs. Reality
The Trans-Texas Corridor project is a hot-button issue in Texas. From opposition to eminent domain and tollways to border watchdog groups invoking the NAFTA superhighway and nativists crying out about the selling of the country’s roads to foreign powers, misconceptions have merged with and obscured reality to create a vortex of fear and uncertainty around what is, essentially, a transportation project.

TxDOT’s Turnpike Authority has published a “myth vs. reality” section regarding TTC-35 at the project’s website. Some excerpts:

The corridor will be a full 10 miles wide.
“Not true,” says the TxDOT site. “If approved by Federal Highway Administration, a 10-mile-wide study area would become the starting point for a second phase of environmental studies. During the second phase, the additional studies will be conducted within the 10-mile-wide study area to identify 1,200 feet or less for the location of the project.”

Foreigners will own the highway.
“Absolutely not. The TTC is a state-owned project, and any land purchased or transportation improvements built will be done in the name of the state.”

TxDOT will pump groundwater into a pipeline under the corridor to deliver elsewhere.
“TxDOT is not in the business of selling groundwater. Furthermore, it does not have the authority to transport water. The only reason that TxDOT may access groundwater beneath state property is if it is needed for the transportation facility, such as a restroom or customer service center.”

Utility pipelines along the corridor would be exempt from regional conservation laws.
“The transmission of any utilities located in the corridor is not exempt from any laws. Any business interested in transporting water, electricity or other utility must comply with all related state and federal laws.”

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SPP: Super-conspiracy or Good Neighbors?
At a meeting in March 2005 in Waco, Texas, President George W. Bush, then-Mexican President Vicente Fox and then-Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin announced the Security and Prosperity Partnership, a trilateral effort among the nations to enhance common security and collaboration on economic issues. The nebulous self-definition of the SPP as a “dialogue” and resistance to identifying the participants in its many “working groups” has led many people to see it as a nefarious effort to create a sovereign union of North America.

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