"Deals with private companies are being negotiated largely in secret, and many state lawmakers are worried taxpayers are being sold down the road."
Aired March 2, 2007 - 18:00 ET
LOU DOBBS TONIGHT
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
Opponents of a proposed superhighway from the Mexican border through Texas today held a major protest.
Now, the highway would speed trucks from Mexico into the heart of this country. Critics say it's a threat to our national security. It's part of a plan for a North American integration being carried out by government and corporate elites without congressional or voter approval.
And as Lisa Sylvester reports, Texans aren't giving up without a fight.
LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Not a sight you see every day, farm tractors rolling down the streets of Austin to the Texas capital. A diverse coalition marched opposing the Trans-Texas Corridor.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They're selling out our infrastructure, and it's really about a part of the NAFTA superhighway creating Mexico, the United States and Canada. It's the first piece.
SYLVESTER: The proposed Trans-Texas Corridor would be a patchwork of superhighways and railroads stretching 4,000 miles from the border of Mexico, cutting through Texas, to Oklahoma.
DAVID STALL, CORRIDORWATCH.ORG: We'll lose control of public infrastructure. We will continue a trend of losing transparency and accountability in government. I think it will set a tone that we'll all come to regret.
SYLVESTER: The Texas Transportation Department says the corridor will improve mobility and safety, create jobs for Texans, and inject billions of dollars into the state's economy. But at a hearing, there were loud complaints from residents. State lawmakers looking at other toll projects, like the Chicago Skyway and the Holland Tunnel, worry that their tolls were increase to a staggering level based on contract formulas.
ELIOT SHAPLEIGH (D), TEXAS STATE SENATE: You're looking in this situation. If you had a $19.27 (ph) toll at one, you get to $185. I think many of us at this table would not be elected if we let that happen.
SYLVESTER: Lawmakers also expressed concern over another road project. A lease has been signed that would make Texas Highway 121 a toll road. A private Spanish company won the bid to billed and collect the tolls for the next 50 years. These deals with private companies are being negotiated largely in secret, and many state lawmakers are worried taxpayers are being sold down the road.
SYLVESTER: In 2003, the state senate gave the Texas Transportation Commission the authority to enter into these agreements with private contractors. Now some state lawmakers believe they gave up too much authority. One bill proposed calls for a two-year moratorium on these new toll roads -- Kitty.
PILGRIM: Thanks very much, Lisa Sylvester.
And that brings us to the subject of tonight's poll.
Should foreign companies be allowed to control vital transportation infrastructure in this country? Yes or no?
Cast your vote at loudobbs.com. We'll bring you the results later in the broadcast.
Even today, highways are the primary way drugs are smuggled into this country from Mexico. The State Department's international narcotics report says legitimate commercial traffic provides ample opportunity for smugglers to move drugs across our borders.
TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.voxant.com
© 2007 Cable News Network:
To search TTC News Archives click
To view the Trans-Texas Corridor Blog click