NASCO says 'Super Corridor' critics don't know what they are talking about
By GORDON DICKSON
Fort Worth Star Telegram
FORT WORTH -- Tiffany Melvin says her group isn't trying to erase the U.S., Mexico and Canada borders to form a new sovereign land -- a "North American Union."
She says the North America's SuperCorridor Coalition simply favors economic development along Interstate 35 and connecting routes in all three countries. NASCO wants more funding for roads such as I-35W in Fort Worth, as well as rail lines to move goods.
But for the past two years she's appeared on dozens of radio and television shows, in newsletters and online to deny that NASCO is part of an international conspiracy.
"People who criticize this organization don't understand the discussion. It should be educating people about how transportation is funded and why it's going awry," Melvin said during a recent trip to Fort Worth, where the group will hold its annual meeting Wednesday through Friday.
"Twenty to 30 years from now, when congestion is so bad we can no longer attract development, we can point to this day and say, 'This is where we went wrong.'"
About 350 officials from the three nations, including many Tarrant County political and business leaders, are expected to attend the conference.
About two years ago, NASCO published a map showing how roads in the three nations could be connected to form a freight corridor.
International boundaries were barely visible on the map, and critics said that was evidence of a plan to remove borders.
Many U.S. interest groups oppose friendlier relations with Canada and Mexico, as spelled out in the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement. They fear that U.S. citizens would lose jobs to foreigners and that the country's security could be compromised.
The Virginia-based American Policy Center recently sent mailings to Dallas-Fort Worth residents warning them to "Stop the NAFTA Super Highway." The envelope was decorated with a copy of NASCO's map.
A newsletter in the mailing said the map was part of a three-nation merger begun in a 2005 meeting in Crawford by President Bush, then-Mexican President Vicente Fox and then-Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin.
American Policy Center spokesman Tom DeWeese did not return calls to elaborate.
High-level U.S. officials say there is no conspiracy.
The White House has said the cooperation with neighboring countries, known as the Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America, is just a framework.
David Pelletier, a spokesman for Alliance developer Hillwood who plans to attend the conference, said the issue is really about improving traffic so that businesses wishing to locate in the Metroplex aren't scared off by gridlock.
"It's about understanding the relationship between investments in infrastructure and the return of jobs," he said.
IF YOU GO
North America's SuperCorridor Coalition is based in Dallas. Its annual conference is this week in Fort Worth.
Where: Renaissance Worthington Hotel downtown. Some events will be off-site, including at Texas Motor Speedway and BNSF Railway headquarters.
When: Wednesday through Friday.
Cost: Basic registration is $375. For more details, go to www.nascocorridor.com.
Highlights: Edward P. Bass hosts a Bass Hall tour, and Texas Secretary of State Roger Williams hosts a barbecue and a concert by Larry Gatlin and the Gatlin Brothers at his Weatherford ranch.
Top speakers: Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones on NFL international marketing; governors of the Mexican states of Hidalgo, Nuevo Leon and Guanajuato; and premiers of the Canadian provinces of Manitoba and Quebec.
Gordon Dickson, 817-685-3816
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