“It is aimed directly at the state of Oklahoma.”
September 29, 2007
The Associated Press
OKLAHOMA CITY — A citizens group opposed to Oklahoma’s membership in an international trade route coalition urged officials Friday to withdraw its membership and avoid leasing state roads to companies, especially foreign ones.
George Wallace, president of Oklahomans for Sovereignty and Free Enterprise, said his group opposes membership in the North American SuperCorridor Coalition, which wants to use interstate highways along with other modes of transportation, such as rail and air service, to improve the flow of goods between the United States, Mexico and Canada.
Wallace said he is concerned a supercorridor would help Chinese goods move faster from Mexico to Canada while passing through Oklahoma. He is also concerned that tractor-trailers using the corridor would be driving through Oklahoma with unchecked loads.
“We would have no idea about contraband that’s being brought forward,” Wallace said. “There might be illegal aliens on board. There could be terrorists.
“We would lose the sovereignty of our borders.”
Dawn Sullivan, an engineer with the state Transportation Department who has worked with the coalition, said membership has been beneficial. The group’s work to promote the 1,500-mile stretch of Interstate 35 has resulted in additional federal funds for the roadway and generated publicity about the importance of the route.
“There are concerns in the nation about how we’re going to keep our highway system moving efficiently with all this bulk of freight on it,” she said. “They’re trying to come up with solutions to help increase efficiency in the existing transportation system.”
Sullivan said legislation would have to be passed to allow the state Transportation Department to lease any of its roads.
The Oklahoma Turnpike Authority, which operates the state’s 10 toll roads, has not been approached to consider leasing any of its roadways to a private company, a spokesman said.
A planned roadway, Texas Corridor 35, would run parallel to and east of Interstate 35 from the Red River south to Mexico, said David Stall, co-founder of CorridorWatch.org.
“It is aimed directly at the state of Oklahoma,” said Stall, who is city administrator of Shoreacres, Texas.
The 1,200-foot-wide roadway — four times the width of a 15-lane freeway — would carry truck, car, and commuter and freight train traffic, as well as provide space for pipelines and utilities. Cintra, of Madrid, Spain, would own toll rights on the superhighway for 50 years, Stall said.
It would be part of a network of Texas superhighways leased to companies in long-term deals, he said.
Stall said he found many Texas legislators and residents were unaware of the impact the corridors would have on private property rights because the corridors would require much more land than a typical highway.
The next planned project is Texas Corridor 69, which would run from Texarkana to the Mexico border, Stall said.
Information from: The Oklahoman, http://www.newsok.com
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