Skip to comments.Private tollway?
Posted on 04/08/2008 10:07:25 AM PDT by Tolerance Sucks Rocks
Several Oklahoma legislators are concerned that individuals and organizations are quietly working on plans to create a privately-operated tollway in Oklahoma.
Many referred to Spain-based Cintra, which has been involved in the development of a proposed Trans-Texas Corridor. Cintra also took over the operation of the Indiana East-West Toll Road from the Indiana Department of Transportation in 2006.
Oklahoma State Sen. Randy Brogdon and state representatives Eric Proctor, Richard Morrisette, Scott Inman and Charles Key all expressed concern that efforts to open up Oklahoma to a privately operated tollway system were being kept out of the view of the general public.
Morrisette, R-Oklahoma City, is a vice-chair of the House of Representatives Transportation Committee. He said he absolutely believes there are those who are wanting to make the tollway system a reality.
They are working feverishly behind the scenes to do this, Morrisette said Thursday.
Proctor, D-Tulsa, echoed Morrisettes position and noted he believed that the efforts were part of a plan to create connecting tollways in states across the United States all the way from the Mexico border to the Canadian border.
In my opinion, it is a first step for people that are wanting to make Mexico, Canada and the United States into a North American Union, Proctor said.
Inman, D-Del City, said his belief was based on what members of his caucus had said to him.
Many said they had seen no plans to create a tollway in Oklahoma, but, according to Proctor, there are telltale signs of an interest. Sources for his information include the national news media, fellow legislators and task forces set up to examine transportation issues, he said.
Brogdon, R-Owasso, and Key, R-Oklahoma City, believe a non-profit organization, North Americas SuperCorridor Coalition, is behind a 2007 bill they helped derail that would have waived the states 11th Amendment rights which protect it from lawsuits brought about by foreign entities such as Cintra.
Like Proctor, Brogdon believes there is an effort to create a national system of tollways, state by state. The NAFTA Superhighway, as he calls this system, is referred to in Oklahoma Senate Joint Resolution 22, passed in 1995 after the enactment of the North American Free Trade Agreement in 1994.
SJR 22 authorized the director of the Oklahoma Department of Transportation Authority to join the I-35 Corridor Coalition, now known as North Americas Supercorridor Coalition or NASCO.
The bill states that the I-35 Corridor Coalition was formed to win from the Congress of the United States the International NAFTA Superhighway designation for I-35 within the framework of the 1991 Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act. It also states that the designation of I-35 as the International NAFTA Superhighway will lead to identification and elimination of barriers to international commerce and traffic, enhanced funding for upgrading capacity and safety, and reduced congestion.
Brogdon believes that NASCO and other groups are working to get bills passed in the Oklahoma Legislature that are seemingly innocuous but would remove barriers keeping ODOT from forming a public-private partnership with a company such as Cintra. ODOT would be able to appropriate land through the law of eminent domain while the private company would operate the tollway with no oversight from the state or voters, he said.
According to one NASCO official, the organizations role has been overblown and distorted by Brogdon and groups such as OKSAFE and the John Birch Society. He said as an advocacy group, the organizations thrust is to create awareness of the need to enhance interstates 35, 29 and 94 and international commercial transportation between the U.S., Canada and Mexico.
According to NASCOs Web site, I-35 is the NAFTA Superhighway. Conde said that there are no covert plans to develop an alternate highway at the national level and that Brogdons allegations were false.
One source of information for Brogdon and Key is The New American, a John Birch Society publication.
Conde is critical of the John Birch Society. He describes it as a radical right-wing organization tied to The Minutemen and discredited by conservative William F. Buckley in an article entitled, Goldwater, The John Birch Society, and Me.
In the article, Buckley talks about Robert Welch, a past John Birch Society president.
His influence was near-hypnotic, and his ideas wild. He said Dwight D. Eisenhower was a dedicated, conscious agent of the Communist conspiracy, and that the government of the United States was under operational control of the Communist party. It was, he said in the summer of 1961, 50-70 percent Communist-controlled.
One point Oklahoma legislators make that has validity, Conde said, is that there are drawbacks to public-private partnerships.
What is at issue is solving the problems of Oklahomas transportation system, which is one of the three poorest in the nation, he said. One reason for this is a failure to raise gas taxes high enough to keep up with inflation nationally and at the state level. Other states with the same problem, like Indiana, have chosen private-public partnerships because of the lack of money to handle transportation issues in their state.
When asked about the John Birch Societys credibility, Key, R-Oklahoma City, said he has never seen proof that the John Birch Society had been discredited. Key also said he believed that the tolls by a private company would be set at an amount to make a profit and would likely cost Oklahomans much more than any tax would.
Brogdon and Key both noted that ODOT has not renewed its membership in NASCO. Conde said he believed ODOT had failed to do so because of the controversy legislators were stirring up. ODOT, like any state agency, has bills it wants passed and must play politics, he said.
OKSAFE and CorridorWatch.org
Choctaw resident Bob Toney and Harrah resident Don Crosson are members of a growing organization known as Oklahomans For Sovereignty and Free Enterprise. The organization, they said, was formed in opposition to plans for a NAFTA Superhighway.
Toney said he was originally skeptical of beliefs concerning plans for a NAFTA Superhighway. Over the course of three or four years, he has grown to believe that plans do exist and that the NAFTA Superhighway would challenge the sovereignty of the United States.
Crosson said plans for a superhighway are connected to the 1994 enactment of the North American Free Trade Agreement.
The organizations purpose is to increase awareness of the NAFTA Superhighway. Toney and Crosson also said they were suspicious of NASCO.
Crosson and Toney speculate that a tollway created in Oklahoma might run through Choctaw. They admitted though that the idea was only speculation based on Choctaws location in regard to I-35.
David and Linda Stall of Texas are the founders of CorridorWatch.org. Toney and Crosson credit them with uncovering a lot of Cintras plans in Texas.
David was a Columbus, Texas city manager in 2002 when he received a TXDOT press release promoting a Trans-Texas Corridor that would come through the municipality, according to his wife.
We were just really, really shocked, Linda said Thursday.
The couple began to follow the Trans-Texas Corridor and launched their Web site in 2004.
In 2003, House Bill 3588 changed the face of Texass transportation code, Linda said. It was passed overwhelmingly by a House of Representatives full of freshman Republican representatives who were not given time to look through the 300-page document, she said. In 2005, House Bill 2702 made further amendment to transportation law, some good and some bad.
In May 2007, a two-year moratorium on private toll road contracts was enacted by Senate Joint Resolution 792 in May 2007, according to an article in The Austin-American Statesman. The measure, according to Linda, was a result of a larger number of Texas residents who over time have gotten legislators to become suspicious of the Trans-Texas Corridors proponents.
One concern might have been the secrecy regarding the proposed project. A March 16, 2006 article of The Austin-American Statesman noted that The Texas Department of Transportation with developer Cintra Zachry sued the Texas attorney general to prevent release of conceptual plans for the Trans-Texas Corridor, a 600-mile swath of roads, rail and pipelines planned to run from Oklahoma to Mexico.
Trans-Texas Corridor PING!
Oklahoma will have to deal with their transportation system as they see fit. If Texas can get the projected vehicles to the OK/LA/NM/AR borders with some reasonable speed and reduce the congestion on Texas highways I’ll be happy.
well,sure,let the foreigners have ‘em,they will drain every penny they can from everyone,then when they are done,we will get pot-holed disaster area’s .If we can’t afford to build and maintain our own roads,what makes anyone think we will be able to afford the tolls on them. Also they are borrowing the money from us,to build these roads,so if after they make all they can,walaa!,they adios and we are left with bad roads and more debt.
Precisely. Because we all know that private enterprises do not maintain their assets! The most efficient provider is the government!
>Conde is critical of the John Birch Society. He describes it as a radical right-wing organization tied to The Minutemen and discredited by conservative William F. Buckley in an article entitled, Goldwater, The John Birch Society, and Me.<
Conservative William F. Buckley, a member of the Establishments Council on Foreign Relations, the semi-secret and world-government-promoting group.
Buckley endeared himself to conservatives with his strong support of the candidacies of Barry Goldwater and Ronald Reagan. But he lost support among many when he backed the giveaway of the Panama Canal, called for legalization of marijuana, touted compulsory national service, excused the deficiencies of the United Nations, and even advocated wage and price controls.
It's also worth noting that these foreign companies seem to have far more interest in this kind of business venture than American firms.
I suspect most American investors know damn well that buying a toll road is a miserable investment. My prediction is that there won't be a single long-term lease that is executed and carried for more than 20 years by any of these foreign companies.
There are about 40,000 fatalities in auto accidents in this country every year, and every one of them represents what is basically an unlimited liability on the part of a road's "owner." This, I suspect, is what is ultimately going to bankrupt these ventures.
What’s your solution to the present/future transportation problems that will be coming our way with continued growth?.. We have congestion aplenty here in Texas on some of our major roadways now. They’ll be complete parking lots in a few more years if things are built beginning shortly.
in most cases private enterprise is best,but geeshh! we will pay higher tolls,worse road conditions,loan the money to build the roads and we will still pay taxes on fuel,and then perhaps bail the whole thing out later,so its not as simple as a private vs government issue,it more layers of the same old crap!
Indiana just gave a 75 yr lease on toll road
I understand that. My point was that the company that signed the lease will either sell the lease or be out of business by the end of Year 20.
I really don’t have a solution,I just think foreign entities controlling roads in America is a bad idea,the interstate highway system is the backbone of our economy,the various states and the fed government get plenty of taxes to build and maintain roads in fuel taxes,highway use taxes,etc,but they use those revenues for everything under the sun,but roads.
well,I agree with you there
Actually they are taking it in the shorts for that idiocy.
I really dont have a solution,
Well hurry and come up with one as they are working hard on getting some of this built here in Texas. Kinda like Jerry Clower’s coon hunting story where he told the guy on the ground to just ‘shoot up here amongst us we need some relief’. We need some relief here in Texas in some of our roadway systems and this maybe part of the solution they choose. Contact TXDOT and give them your proposals and they may put you on the payroll.
How many lanes will be needed then? Who will be able to afford the tolls? (trucker can't now) Facilitating international commerce means no inspection at the border. Good idea? I think not!
For those who don't know, so are; Sen John McCain, W. J. Clinton and George H. W. Bush.
Expect the *drive* for these roads to continue.