Friday, July 4, 2014

Privatized Roads, Privatized Water

You might not think Interstate 11 has anything to do with water privatization, but it does. Considering our water shortages, we should be worried.

Pushes for water privatization cannot be separated from the increased move towards public-private partnerships (P3 or PPP) for infrastructure projects--especially when both consultants for the I-11 study are steeped in P3s in transportation and water.
2014 618 priv st
Image: Denis Bocquet / Flickr

This is not to imply that these consultants, CH2MHILL and AECOM, are involved with Interstate 11 because they also want to privatize our water (although it's possible). But the depth of their involvement in water privatization and P3s in general shows a likelihood that I-11, or parts of it, is intended to be a P3. The more experience Arizona has with P3s, the easier it will be to implement various projects including water. Water is privatized in many other countries, often due to conditions for loans by the World Bank, a tendency seen with structural adjustment programs. P3 arrangements make it more likely that the private side will call the shots. We might get a road we don't even want, just because some companies can make some money. And we may end up with a bigger water problem.

Obama made water privatization in the US easier, when on June 13 of this year, he signed the Water Resources Reform and Development Act (WRRDA) into law. This included the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Authority (WIFIA) which is a 5-year pilot program providing financing for P3s for water projects.

WIFIA, mirroring the "Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act" (TIFIA), was a concept developed and promoted by the American Water Works Association (AWWA). What does this have to do with the I-11 Study consultants? AWWA, a non-profit, is supported by CH2MHILL and closely affiliated with AECOM. AECOM Senior Consultant Jim Chaffee was president of the AWWA until very recently.

There is no doubt that both consultants are immersed in the world of infrastructure P3 promotion. CH2MHILL supports The National Council for Public-Private Partnerships and has a couple members on the steering committee of the NCPPP's Water Institute. The Senior Vice President of the investment arm of AECOM, Samara Barend's testimony to congress back in May was meant to encourage federal facilitation of P3s on a larger scale. 

AECOM put out the white paper, Fostering a Larger Private-Sector Role in United States Infrastructure in which their number one recommendation in the executive summary reads, "Expand the use of PPPs for surface transportation projects. This can be achieved by extend [sic] the successful TIFIA and [Private Activity Bond (PAB)] programs before they expire in 2015." Their second recommendation includes, "Pass the proposed 'WIFIA' pilot program to provide long-term, flexible low-interest subordinated debt financing terms to water utilities...
Enable the WIFIA program funds to be partnered with PABs, as has proven successful with TIFIA."

TIFIA loans and availability payments, and possibly tax-exempt PABs, are being considered for I-11, especially since collection of tolls on the future Interstate 11 would be controversial, even while concessions are still an option. You can listen to AECOM's Samara Barend, brimming with enthusiasm, break down different types of P3s and the financing options in the video Public-Private Partnerships: Lipinski Symposium On Transportation Policy & Strategy.

A previous post on this blog, Companies seek partnership with ADOT to profit on freeway, Part 2: The Methods, explains the draw these options have for companies seeking to make money off of infrastructure projects. These and more are listed as options in the I-11 Study draft Implementation Report.

As Ellin Dannin of Truthout pointed out, with programs like TIFIA and WIFIA, "rather than the private partner coming to the rescue of cash-strapped governments, it is the public that must subsidize private contractors."

ADOT just released a Request for Information regarding its Statewide Assets, on July 2 as part of their Public Private Partnership Initiative. Since ADOT has several projects on the table, this step allows them to feel out the industry's interest before putting out a Request for Proposals, either for the Loop 202 South Mountain Freeway, the Interstate 11, a North-South corridor, SR 189, or other projects listed on their website.

While P3s are often framed as a better option for the public sector to accomplish their goals with their limited resources, in that they can leverage their assets, P3s are widely promoted by large companies who seek to make money. Construction companies, engineering firms, consultants, and banks all see dollar signs in these projects, and they host conferences and make other efforts to reach out to local officials to steer them in that direction. For example, JP Morgan, Morgan Stanley, and Goldman Sachs are involved with P3 conferences like the National P3 Symposium. Both AECOM and CH2MHill are sponsors and attendees of the ARTBA P3s in Transportation Conference and the 2015 Global Water Summit who uses the phrase "the water value revolution" and whose website is

Many such companies worry about their fate if the economy doesn't allow for governments to implement as many infrastructure projects. For example, Goldman Sachs listed AECOM as one of the companies that would go under if government spending was severely limited, considering that AECOM has 62% sales exposure to government. Their survival largely hinges on access to P3 deals. No wonder they're pushing the idea.

They have already made some money from the the I-11 Study which cost approximately 2.5 million dollars. While it would likely be a conflict of interest for either consultant to get a Design-Build, etc. deal on I-11, their interest in P3s remain. Corporate Accountability International warns that private water companies often get a foot hold on further water privatization deals by entering into consultation partnerships first.

An interesting fact is that Mike Kies, the ADOT project director for the I-11 Study has worked for AECOM. He worked for AECOM on the Arizona Rail Framework Study and the State Rail Plan. He was an AECOM project consultant on an ADOT project to make I-10 5 lanes each way from Tangerine Road to I-8. The article on this project stated, "An improved I-10 can 'support the objectives of the CANAMEX trade corridor, which includes this important segment of I-10,' literature indicates. The CANAMEX corridor presumes greater traffic between Mexico and Canada through the U.S. I-10 is 'not only an important east-west freight route,' but decision-makers 'expect freight movements to increase north and south.'"

Also interesting is that John McNamara of AECOM, then of BRW, Inc., was involved back in 1993 on an Arizona Trade Corridor Study, which is one of the earlist references to CANAMEX.

The Arizona Transportation and Trade Corridor Alliance (TTCA), which "encompasses the former CANAMEX Task Force" just released their Strategic Roadmap, which primarily promotes trade corridors through Arizona, and P3s, with an emphasis on encouraging an effort to get local policy makers and others to understand the "benefits" of trade infrastructure and private involvement in financing. The TTCA was started in 2012, bringing together the public and private sector, including Jim Kolbe, CANAMEX expert of the Arizona Mexico Commission (AMC). This sort of public-private partnership unit allows private interests to influence policy behind closed doors.

From "Scientists on where to be in the 21st century based on sustainability"
Trade and transportation infrastructure of the scale intended by organizations like the AMC/TTCA would require massive amounts of natural resources including water. In addition, the more roads, the more traffic, the more sprawl, the more pollution and use of resources. It's an endless cycle. At the June 25 I-11 in the Phoenix area, Franco Habre asked, "With the current and looming water shortages shouldn't we be applying a moratorium on proposed infrastructure projects?" to which ADOT's Mike Kies responded that it's not his job to be concerned about water. Those whose job it is to be concerned about water, such as the Arizona Department of Water Resources, toured Arizona stating that water desalination is a likely necessity a few years from now. The desalination would likely occur in Mexico or California and be transported to Arizona.

AMC is already moving forward on this, and just announced that,
"This year’s plenary included the signing of an Agreement of Cooperation between the states of Arizona and Sonora through the Arizona Department of Water Resources and Sonora’s State Commission on Water.  This agreement allows both states to jointly evaluate the feasibility of Sea of Cortez desalination to augment and increase water supply resiliency in Arizona and Sonora.  This agreement is signed at a time where the Arizona-Sonora region is facing critical water supply challenges and experiencing extended droughts."
It is highly unlikely that water desalinated and transported from the ocean will not be privatized, especially if the pro-P3 Arizona-Mexico Commission gets in the middle. Desalination plants are increasingly being built in the US for use with brackish water, including one in California which is a public-private partnership, and incidentally, Poseidon Resources Corp, the company behind this plant, held a presentation about this facility for the AMC 2014 Plenary Environment and Water Committee (titled 2-IDE Powerpoint Arizona.pdf within the zip file). Is a water pipeline a possibility for AMC's god-child CANAMEX/I-11?

AMC's interest in water may also have something to do with their relationship with Freeport McMoran, one of their biggest sponsors who's also had someone on their board for several years. Freeport is responsible for massive pollution and human rights violations, particularly in West Papua. In January, Freeport hired the previous director of the Arizona Department of Water Resources as their director of water strategy. And while Freeport has been key in changing Arizona water legislation to be in their favor, they might be worrying that Arizona will mandate that mines use desalinated water as Chile, another location of Freeport's mines, has recently done. Even if Freeport is not worried about being required to use desalinated water, they may be looking ahead to when they've used all other options, having bought up farm land for their water rights and swindling native water rights from various tribes. It may also be significant that Michael J. Lacey, Director of Arizona Department of Water Resources is co-chair of AMC's Environment and Water committee.

The AMC and the World Bank, are interested in opening up public services to market forces, and businesses want to make money off of these deals. Private water companies across the world have experienced resistance to their plans. They therefore know they have to frame their project in a way that is more acceptable to people, such as a public-private partnership leveraging the assets of the municipal government, despite many of the pro-P3 arguments being false. And what is a worse to privatize than a basic need which is a finite resource? Privatizing water means poor people go without it, and conservation is counter to the profit-interest of companies.

With all these plans for transportation infrastructure, water is an issue even if it's not privatized. The more development, the more pollution and wasting of water. They may try to sell their projects as "green" or "sustainable" but increased growth in this region is not sustainable. Additionally, private or not, desalinated water will cost more. We need to halt development and many of the wasteful industrial projects such as the Freeport McMoran mines.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Phoenix I-11 Meeting Report-back

It becomes apparent, attending public meetings about infrastructure such as the future Interstate 11, that the interest is primarily in just being able to say they allowed forums for public input. During the Q & A portion of the public meeting about I-11 in Phoenix on June 25, ADOT's Mike Kies showed his skill in answering questions without actually answering them.

While some of the questions were about the likelihood and timing of specific routes, these questions could not be answered. It was reiterated that the purpose of the meeting was for public feedback on the potential routes--that no specific route had been determined.

Many of the questions could've been answered but we can assume that very few were satisfied with the answers. One question was about how the I-11 relates to the NAFTA highway. Kies essentially said that there is nothing called the NAFTA highway, and that most likely the question was about CANAMEX, but there was no adequate description of the relationship between the I-11 and CANAMEX.

Another question was about the relationship between the I-11 Study consultants and banks and construction companies that could make money off the trade corridor and/or public-private partnerships. Even though these relationships exist and consultants are making money right now, Kies said this question could not be answered yet, probably referring to the fact that there are no specific construction companies contracted at this time. However, it is clear that consultants do have these relationships.

There were a couple questions about a port in Mexico that has been referenced as a potential key part of I-11. Kies stated that this port is not part of I-11. He didn't acknowledge that the Corridor Justification Report mentions the expansion of the Port of Guaymas which is the southern point of the CANAMEX Corridor. While the port may not be part of I-11, there is certainly a relationship and a plan.

Someone asked if, considering the looming water shortage, there should a moratorium on infrastructure projects. Kies seemed to get a little tongue-tied about that question, but essentially said "it's not my job to worry about water." He stated that ADOT's focus is on transportation and they get data from demographers on projected population of the area which they then plan for.

There was a question about border security and it's relationship to I-11 and something about whether MAP-21 was part of AGENDA-21.

A couple questions were answered. One was about the potential of the use of immenent domain to acquire lands for I-11. This is a possibility. Another question was whether pipelines could be part of this multi-modal project and Kies said that there is that potential.

The Q & A period involved writing questions on cards and having them read aloud by a facilitator. It seems this might partly be an attempt to keep critics of the project from becoming acquainted. If the questions are anonymous, people can't get together afterwards to join forces.

A virtual meeting continues until July 18. Post your comments.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Plans for Privatization of I-11

Might toll roads or some other form of privatization be justified by officials in order to build the congress- and NAFTA-mandated trade corridor they're calling the future Interstate 11, that most residents of the affected states don't even know about?

The media promotion of a public-private partnership (P3) begins for Interstate 11 with last week's article, "Has I-11 hit a dead end?" Despite lobbying efforts, federal and local funding is nonexistent for this interstate connecting Phoenix with Las Vegas, so officials are looking into other options for financing, the article explains.
"Here’s how they work: States borrow a couple hundred million dollars from a private company to start construction right away but pay the loan back slowly over many years with interest. It’s the transportation version of a mortgage, Larkin Thomason said."
Promoted as "innovative financing tools," public-private partnership deals for infrastructure are essentially privatization with a bit more oversight on the part of the government and paid for with future tax dollars and/or tolls, in the case of roads.

“The odds are that the only way that this project is going to get built in the next 30 years is if it is done as a public / private partnership... What they need is private capital to build the facility and then do this as a public / private partnership. That is the plan," stated John McGee, Executive Director for Planning and Policy for the Arizona Department of Transportation in 2011 about I-11 (Source p 10).

Officials were fairly certain that the Boulder City Bypass, which has been incorporated into the plans for I-11 and is referred to as the I-11 Loop, was going to be built with a P3. A 2012 article stated,
"The first three miles of the bypass will be funded by NDOT, but the next 12 miles, costing between $350 and $450 million, will have to come from an outside company in a public-private partnership... The bypass could become part of an even bigger project - Interstate 11... Portions of I-11 could become public-private partnerships, according to Rosenberg, meaning additional toll roads.
Tolls look to be the fastest option to getting both projects built" (Source).
In more recent news, a public-private partnership was abandoned for the bypass in favor of a gas tax increase (source), despite a toll-road being studied, and the option having been legislated (Source).

Interstate 11 is a piece of transportation infrastructure meant to facilitate NAFTA trade, pushed by congress onto Nevada and Arizona (and beyond) yet the feds can't pay for it. Conveniently, P3s are a way around this obstacle that also benefit many of the same private interests that gain from NAFTA, such as corporations and banks.

Because most of us don't want to have to pay tolls nor a gas tax increase, especially for something intended mainly for trucks (and for that reason is unlikely to involve tolls), those who seek to gain from a P3 will have to have a good strategy to sell it to us. Much time, effort, and money has been going into this, for certain. While I-11 has the potential to be a toll-road, such an arrangement would be controversial. As described in Companies seek partnership with ADOT to profit on freeway, Part 2: The Methods about the Loop 202 South Mountain Freeway extension, other avenues exist for companies to make money off of P3s, through accessing loans with lower interest rates like TIFIA loans, and receiving availability payments, coming out of our tax dollars decades down road.

Consultants and think tanks have been planting the seeds of P3 arrangements for trade and transportation infrastructure and megapolitans like the Sun Corridor arguing that global competitiveness is what can help local/regional economies. (See AECOM, Lincoln Institute for Land Policy, Urban Land Institute, HDR).

The Brookings Institute is one such think tank. The article, Has I-11 hit a dead end? quoted Robert Puentes, a senior fellow of transportation at the Brookings Institute,
“[Nevada officials] recognize that the cavalry is not coming, so they’re trying to think of their own tailored solutions." 
While this may seem like the simple observation of an expert, the quotation fails to acknowledge the involvement of the Brookings Institute and Puentes in pushing for public-private partnerships, trade corridors and transportation infrastructure, and the concept of the megapolitan such as the Sun Corridor. This is not insignificant in the least.

For example, a Brookings document of six years ago, Forging a New Federal-Mega Agenda for the Intermountain West, says the following: "...the federal government should give priority in the next round of transportation funding to strengthening nationally significant passenger and freight corridors. One of the weak spots along the CANAMEX corridor is the two-lane U.S. 93 highway connecting Las Vegas and Phoenix." That's the future Interstate 11 by the way. In the same document: "To finance expansion, the federal government should provide more flexibility for developing public-private partnerships and alternative financing arrangements"

Robert Puentes was co-author of this 2011 Brookings paper, Moving Forward on Public Private Partnerships: U.S. and International Experience With PPP Units as well as the 2013 article, Invest But Reform: Establish a National Infrastructure Bank Capitalized by a Repatriation Tax Holiday. This Infrastructure Bank concept has been years in the making and may have an important role in P3 promoters getting their way. "Rep. Steven Horsford, D-Nev., is co-sponsoring a bill to create a national infrastructure bank that would fund transportation projects through loans via the private sector." (Source). This subject will require further attention.

Probably more significant are the programs Phoenix has and will be participating in with Brookings. "The Greater Phoenix region was selected as one of eight markets in the U.S. to take part in the Global Cities Initiative, a joint project of Brookings Institution and JP Morgan Chase... The project entails designing and implementing strategies to grow the region’s economy by expanding global trade and investment" (Source).

The Phoenix area also participated in a similar project in 2011. "The Maricopa Association of Governments (MAG), in collaboration with economic development leaders across the region, has been selected to participate in a Metropolitan Business Planning Initiative to determine an economic development strategy for the region... the initiative is part of the Brookings-Rockefeller Project on State and Metropolitan Innovation, a collaboration between the Metropolitan Policy Program at Brookings Institution and the Rockefeller Foundation" (Source).

Brookings 2013 Annual Report elaborates on the initiative. "Metro plans to generate new and updated trade data on exports, foreign direct investment, and freight flows in the coming year as part of the Global Cities Initiative: A Joint Project of Brookings and JPMorgan Chase. This research will serve as the foundation for working with public and private sector leaders in 28 U.S. metros—as well as select international metros—in the coming years to help them shape export and global engagement strategies to grow their economies. (Source).

Promises about increased jobs abound in promoting the I-11, echoing 20+ years of similar rhetoric about the trickle-down benefits of NAFTA. It is no surprise that P3s are promoted as a way to facilitate globalized trade. P3s are much more common in other areas of the world where countries are forced to accept privatization deals as part of structural adjustment programs in exchange for financial support by the World Bank. It's possible, especially due to the troubling lack of fresh water in the region (1, 2, 3)--which is all the more reason not to encourage further development and sprawl-- that success with transportation P3s may open the door to water privatization in Arizona, which is increasingly prevalent throughout the world.

Brookings and others promote megapolitans as sites for global competitiveness--sites that can blur municipal lines and open more inroads for privatization. The term "Sun Corridor," an intentional economic integration of Phoenix and Tucson, has gained increased usage due to a Brookings Report called "Megapolitan: Arizona's Sun Corridor."

Arizona is already set up with broad-enabling legislation for P3s. The 2012 federal legislation "Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century" (MAP-21) that designated Interstate 11, encourages P3s for transportation projects. A P3 toolkit and other resources are now available through the Federal Highway Administration website.

More details on how the P3 might go down for the I-11:
"Every dollar in the MAG region, and this project is in the MAG region, that they anticipate coming in the next 20 – 25 years has been programmed. It will be a long time before there will be any new incremental money to do anything other than what was in the original program. Public / private money is reticent to be invested in projects where the alternative alignment study and where the environmental work has not yet been completed. The opportunity that is here is that the coalition that they have been working with has made a commitment to work with them on possible donation of a significant amount of Right of Way, if the alignment study ultimately shows that this road should go through their property. If it does not, all bets are off. If it ultimately does show that, they have committed to sit down and work with them on developing some sort of a donation agreement. If they have received that money, one of the costliest pieces of a major rebuild project is Right of Way. If they can get that Right of Way for little to nothing based upon this study, then when they go out with a solicitation and potentially do this road as a public / private partnership as a toll road, that is a cost that they do not have to incur... What they need is private capital to build the facility and then do this as a public / private partnership. That is the plan.”  John McGee, Executive Director for Planning and Policy for the Arizona Department of Transportation (Source p 10).

See also: Companies seek partnership with ADOT to profit on freeway, Part1: The Networks
and Filling in the I-11/CANAMEX Gaps

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Avra Valley and I-11 media coverage

Albert Lannon: Building Interstate 11 through Avra Valley would hurt people, wildlife 

 June 04, 2014 12:00 am By Albert Lannon Special to the Arizona Daily Star

A two-year planning process by the Arizona and Nevada departments of transportation to prepare for a future Interstate 11 “Canamex Highway” is ending. A May 21 stakeholders meeting in Tucson finalized a draft “business case” for the controversial multibillion-dollar highway.

Michael Kies, the Arizona department’s director of planning and programming, said that building I-11 between Las Vegas and Nogales, Arizona, would create “240,000 new high-paying, good benefits jobs” in the two states.

When asked the basis for the claim, Kies referred to the Corridor Justification Report posted on the department’s website. A review of those 285 pages showed that much data is based on “assumptions,” “projections,” “forecasts,” ”potential” and imagining. They may “over-estimate due to double-counting some factors.” All numbers and quotations I refer to are from ADOT.


Interstate 11 discussions continue in Tucson

 Posted: Wednesday, June 4, 2014 4:00 am

Chris Flora, Desert Times

County officials are taking another look at a proposal that was disagreeable to the Board of Supervisors in 2007.

The potential construction of Interstate 11, a 56-mile stretch of highway that is aimed at connecting Avra Valley to Interstate 10, continues to be a topic of controversy – county officials saying it is necessary for economic growth, and area residents arguing it would impose on their way of living and impact environmentally-sensitive lands.

Those against the project have created a petition group called the Avra Valley Coalition, which finds itself in agreement with a 2007 Board of Supervisors resolution that opposed the construction on the grounds that environmental, historic, and archaeological impacts could not be adequately mitigated. The board’s resolution further called upon then-Governor Janet Napolitano’s office to undertake studies related to expanding capacity along Interstate 10 for multiple modes of travel, including passenger cars, freight, passenger rail, and bicycle.


See also:
No Interstate 11 Highway Through the Avra Valley ! petition

No Interstate 11 Freeway Through the Avra Valley, comments submitted to I-11 study

Comment on I-11

ADOT sent this out:

Arizona and Nevada to hold public and virtual meetings for the Interstate 11 and Intermountain West Corridor Study
Meetings focus on draft Corridor Concept Report as study nears completion
Two years ago, the Arizona and Nevada departments of transportation launched a study to determine the feasibility of building a new multimodal interstate corridor linking Phoenix and Las Vegas, while stretching south to Mexico and potentially north to Canada. That study is now nearing completion and will include one more opportunity for the public to get involved and provide comments.
Three public meetings and a month-long online virtual meeting are scheduled for the Interstate 11 and Intermountain West Corridor Study to gather comments for the draft Corridor Concept Report, a document that will outline the vision for the corridor, reinforce the justification for building a new multiuse interstate corridor and define an implementation plan to move this project forward.
The Corridor Concept Report and the supporting technical reports and work products will determine whether sufficient justification exists for a new multimodal transportation corridor. It will also establish potential alternatives for the new I-11 and Intermountain West Corridor. The report will outline four chapters: the need for a high-capacity, multimodal corridor to link economies; corridor alignment recommendations that link metro areas and connect communities; the economic value of investment in the corridor; and a call to action, emphasizing the need for continued collaboration to move the I-11 and Intermountain West Corridor forward.
Three public meetings will be hosted during the month of June:
Tucson Area
June 18, 6 to 8 p.m. MST/PDT (presentation begins at 6:30 p.m.)
Tucson Electric Power Community Room: 88 E. Broadway Blvd. in Tucson
Phoenix Area
June 25, 6 to 8 p.m. MST/PDT (presentation begins at 6:30 p.m.)
Palo Verde Energy Education Center: 600 N. Airport Road in Buckeye
Las Vegas Area
June 26, 4 to 7 p.m. MST/PDT (presentation begins at 5:30 p.m.)
Fifth Street Historical School: 401 S. Fourth Street in Las Vegas
Virtual Public Meeting
From June 18 through July 18, the public can also participate in a virtual meeting, reviewing the latest project information and providing feedback online. This month-long virtual meeting will be hosted on the project website,
ADOT and NDOT have been working together since the summer of 2012 on the Interstate 11 and Intermountain West Corridor Study, which includes detailed corridor planning of an interstate link connecting the Phoenix and Las Vegas metropolitan areas, while extending the corridor through southern Arizona to Mexico and potentially north to Canada. Congress designated the future I-11 corridor between Phoenix and Las Vegas as part of the current surface transportation bill, Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21). 
The Interstate 11 and Intermountain West Corridor Study is a two‐year, multiphase, high‐level study examining the feasibility, benefits, opportunities and constraints of a proposed new interstate highway corridor. The study is expected to be completed this summer. Funding to construct this new corridor has not been identified. In addition to the Arizona and Nevada departments of transportation, other study partners are the Maricopa Association of Governments, Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada, Federal Highway Administration and Federal Railroad Administration.
For more information about the I‐11 and Intermountain West Corridor Study and to sign up for updates, visit

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Filling in the I-11/CANAMEX Gaps

Fascinating that John Halikowski, Director of Arizona Department of Transportation asked in reference to the future Interstate 11 at a recent meeting, "Is that CANAMEX high-priority corridor still in existence?" (Source, page 21-22). Okay, the director of ADOT, who also is also part of the Arizona-Mexico Commission (AMC) which is said to be the "god father" of CANAMEX, as well as co-chair of the Transportation and Trade Corridor which would appear to have taken over the role of pushing CANAMEX, had to verify if CANAMEX still exists? What does this tell you about how much Arizona decision-makers know about, much less want or need this trade corridor, not to mention the knowledge or desire on the part of the residents? Now, it may be good news that Halikowski doesn't seem to know what's going on, or that CANAMEX is not actively being pushed, but then again, it may just be that the Intermountain West Corridor, confusingly, is the new CANAMEX and the planning is all happening very much behind the scenes.

What we can gather:
  • CANAMEX is not dead, but not everyone is on the same page about its relationship to the I-11 and Intermountain West Corridor.
  • I-11 was designated in order to make CANAMEX more efficient, although some current transportation decision-makers don't even know about CANAMEX.
  • The Intermountain West Corridor seems to be the name for the potential future trade corridor stretching from Mexico to Canada, definitely including the congress-designated I-11 that would connect Las Vegas to Phoenix, but also used interchangeably with I-11 in that I-11 designation may one day include that whole north-south span across the country (See also maps in Figures 1 and 2) and is likely a somewhat different route from that of CANAMEX even though it would serve the same purpose.
  • These trade corridors are being pushed on us by largely private interests who seek to profit from NAFTA.
Although imposed on us by the federal government and the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), with the participation of some locals, CANAMEX is a trade corridor that pretty much already exists in the form of various roadways, although the goal is to make it more efficient. This corridor seems especially relevant considering the tizzy certain southern Arizonans are in over the Interstate 11's lack of connection between Phoenix to the Mexican border (for example, see December 2013 State Transportation Board notes). If CANAMEX already serves the purpose of connecting Canada, the US and Mexico running through Phoenix, Tucson, Nogales, etc, and I-11 is just meant to fill in the missing gap for freight traffic efficiency north of Phoenix, what's the big deal? And why hadn't CANAMEX been brought up throughout much of the I-11 conversation at the State Transportation Board meetings until February? This raises questions about what the status of CANAMEX is and why certain southern-Arizonans wouldn't be satisfied with the existing designation.

In response to Halikowski's inquiry, Scott Omer, Assistant Director of Multimodal Planning Division stated, "Yes, sir, it is. Congress established the high-priority corridors. ...what we would call the CANAMEX corridor was listed as high-priority corridor Number 26 in the federal designation of that. The I-11 designation actually came out of that high-priority designation that Congress had passed. So portions of that is what came up with the designation for -- of I-11 from -- basically from Las Vegas to the City of Phoenix along U.S. 93. The rest of that designation remains intact. It's just not included in the Congressional designation that was passed as part of the MAP-21 legislation" (Source, page 21-22).

If you've been following this blog, you likely read that the I-11 is just meant to facilitate the freight traffic required by the CANAMEX corridor that is inadequate between Phoenix and Las Vegas. Quoted in the past was the Interstate 11 Study website's own words: "... the CANAMEX corridor is composed of a myriad of existing Interstate corridors and state highways, and is not a continuous route due to a gap in the designation between I-10 and US 93. Implementation of the Corridor can fill this gap..." (Source).  You can also see CANAMEX mentioned several times in their timeline.

In previous meeting minutes and transcriptions, some ADOT members seemed dumbfounded at the fact that congress would only designate the I-11 between Phoenix and Las Vegas. During the December 13, 2013 State Transportation Board meeting, a resolution was discussed that requested an expansion of I-11 down to the Mexican border.

Here's one entertaining exchange:

Deanna Beaver: "...I would like just a little clarification... why originally was -- Congress passed the law that the section was just from Nevada to Phoenix as opposed to the full length of the state?"
Floyd Roehrich: "Now, Mr. Flores, Ms. Beaver, I've got to be careful here. I can request Congress, but they have to answer that.  We have no idea. Nobody knew that was in there until it showed up... we'll never get satisfaction from Congress, because I -- I don't know why they put it in there. And we in staff have no -- we're not given justification around Congress's action."
Beaver: "Well, it just didn't seem logical to me if the whole thing was a corridor from north south, why they would stop it halfway.
Roehrich: "So you're equating logic with Congress right now?..."
Halikowski: "There were lots of supporters, Mr. Chairman, if you recall the media coverage. It was two big cities, Phoenix and Vegas, that weren't connected. And I think that's what a lot of supporters were focused on..." (Source).

The communication gap may have to do with there being little to no overlap between ADOT and the CAN-DO (Connecting Arizona and Nevada - Delivering Opportunities) a nonprofit corporation, also now known as I-11 Coalition. According to one I-11 Study document (p 12), CAN-DO coalition "leaders played a strong role in lobbying for the designation of this corridor as 'Interstate 11' in MAP‐21."

Arizona Trade Corridor Study, 1993
Those involved in this coalition had a particular interest in addressing the inadequate connection between the two cities. CAN-DO Coalition's president and the executive director have been involved in the Governor's CANAMEX Taskforce and CANAMEX Coalition respectively, these groups very likely also having a role in lobbying congress. Actually, pushers of CANAMEX had identified US 93 as the missing link as far back as 1993 in this Arizona Trade Corridor Study which is the earliest reference to CANAMEX known to this blogger.

Many discussions of the I-11, in the media and in official meetings, omit any reference to CANAMEX but often refer to an international trade corridor reaching from Mexico to Canada. Look at a sampling of media reports on the future interstate and you'll see that I-11 will be referred to as the international trade corridor, or just part of it. Either way, it is clear that the role of the interstate is to facilitate international trade. Since CANAMEX is the trade corridor that already runs through Phoenix and Las Vegas (and through the international borders), however inadequately, it was odd that it had appeared that it wasn't until February 14th State Transportation Board meetings that CANAMEX was actually mentioned during the board's recent discussions on I-11.

Although ADOT Director John Halikowski seemed to not be certain that CANAMEX still existed, prior to asking about it, he stated, "But my understanding is you have two high-priority issues here, corridors. [sic] And the Interstate 11 designation, but let's not forget the Intermountain West Corridor, which is the CANAMEX high-priority corridor, which runs from Nogales up into Phoenix" (Source, p 20). We can take this with a grain of salt since Halikowski does seem rather oblivious, but here he is saying the Intermountain West Corridor is the CANAMEX Corridor.

Also, when he says that CANAMEX runs from Nogales to Phoenix, one can probably assume that he's just referencing that specific portion, not implying that that is the whole stretch. It would appear though, based on how certain people and groups like TREO are responding, that the southern connectivity desired for the I-11 is not fulfilled by this CANAMEX designation, or there's something else to gain (e.g. federal funding) by designating a southern leg officially as the interstate.

The Intermountain West Corridor may be taking the place of CANAMEX, may be somewhat different from the official route, and/or "Interstate 11" might one day be the name for the entire stretch between Canada and Mexico. Discussion of what the I-11 and Intermountain West Corridor is exactly and how it relates to CANAMEX is consistently ambiguous. For one, "Intermountain West Corridor" is nearly always paired with I-11, which would imply that they are related but not one and the same, yet the difference is never explained. Secondly, when CANAMEX is mentioned, there is no clarification as to the difference or relationship between the two (or three), such as on the project background on the interstate 11 study website.

The relationship between CANAMEX and I-11, etc. seems unreasonably vague in this description from the I-11 and Intermountain West Corridor Study "Corridor Justification Report" from August 2013. "The CANAMEX Corridor is designated as an FHWA High Priority Corridor, and a segment of CANAMEX has recently been noted as a 'future Interstate corridor' named as I-11 in MAP-21. Many of the objectives of I-11 and the Intermountain West Corridor are similar to those of CANAMEX, primarily enhancing freight travel and trade between Canada and Mexico; therefore, prior CANAMEX planning should be considered as part of this study." 

Figure 1. From AMC's Catalyst newsletter, winter 2014
An article from summer 2010 reported, "MAG maps now show I-11 running north beyond Las Vegas, up the California-Nevada border and emerging in eastern Washington."
Maps like the one in figure 1 from the Arizona-Mexico Commission's latest newsletter shows two trade corridors, one labled CANAMEX and the other labled I-11. If this is accurate, then the intention seems to be that I-11 would eventually encompass the entire stretch and there would be two separate trade corridors north of Las Vegas. We can probably conclude that "Intermountain West Corridor" is a stand-in term for that trade corridor until I-11 is expanded at which point the terms would be used interchangeably. Another similar map was found in a MAG presentation from December, but these cannot be found in I-11 Study materials. Nowhere else is there any indication that there would be two separate trade corridors north of Las Vegas, but perhaps it is too soon to say and not as relevant to those in Arizona.

The map is likely just a working document. On the FAQ page under "Do you have a map of the proposed route?" it states, "No. It is very early in the study process and alternatives/alignments have not yet been developed. Several previous studies have identified potential alignments for the Corridor or a similar north-south Interstate route (e.g., Hassayampa Freeway and the CANAMEX Corridor). As part of this study, review of prior recommendations will occur, building upon them utilizing new information, to determine suitable alternative alignment options." As accessed on from 2012, however, the following description from site is much more clear about the Intermountain West Corridor, but one must wonder why it has since been removed. "Serving the nation’s north-south transportation needs from Mexico to Canada, the proposed Intermountain West Corridor... is also envisioned to promote possible freight linkages between the new and expanding ports in Mexico and Canada, existing United States West Coast ports, and future inland ports and commerce centers crucial to distributing goods across North America."

This is the understanding reflected in an April 10 Arizona Capitol Times article referring to Interstate 11, "The highway between the two cities is just one segment of the larger Intermountain West Corridor, which could one day be a new interstate route from Mexico to Canada" (Source).

The Intermountain West Corridor is obviously not set in stone. Another very recent article reports that there are seven possible corridors through Nevada.
Nevada and Arizona are nearing the end of a two-year study of plans for I-11 connecting Las Vegas and Phoenix. That project received congressional designation in 2012, and work is expected to begin soon on a highway bypass around Boulder City as an initial phase of construction...
The study, to wrap up in July, covered seven possible I-11 corridors through Nevada and recommended two for further study. Its “most favorable” route follows US 95 north from Las Vegas to Interstate 80, then west to US 395 in Reno and north into California and Oregon.
The study also recommended further analysis of a route that loosely follows the U.S. 95 corridor through the Fernley/Fallon area, than [sic] on to Oregon and Idaho through Winnemucca (Source).

Perhaps all this ambiguity has to do with CANAMEX being in transition. "An update to the concept of CANAMEX is currently underway," states Arizona-Mexico Commission's "Arizona Border Communities Roadmap" from December 2013 (p 42). It would not be surprising if the concept update comes out of the TTCA's strategic roadmap they've been promising for several months, which might be released after this month's steering committee meeting which doesn't seem to be open to the public. It is possible that CANAMEX appears as a separate route in these maps because it is still considered a high-priority trade corridor with its official route until and if it is changed. In other words, the Intermountain West Corridor may replace the CANAMEX Corridor, with whichever route is decided upon, if that route is different from the official CANAMEX route, but in the meantime, they must be discussed as two separate routes.

The website has hardly been updated since 2007 (and for a bit the url was redirecting to the ADOT website). Yet the I-11 and Intermountain West Corridor Study "Corridor Justification Report" from August 2013 discusses the CANAMEX Coalition as though it still exists. Also, Marisa Walker was described as representing "CANAMEX/Arizona Commerce Authority" where she was listed as part of the Policy Advisory Committee for the "Arizona-Sonora Border Master Plan" published in February 2013. In this Master Plan is probably the most up-to-date info on CANAMEX. This further complicates things because it indicates that there are two separate routes south of Phoenix.

"The “CANAMEX Corridor” reflects a vision for supporting the priorities of the CANAMEX Coalition while also establishing a Southwestern High Speed Rail Network. The goal of actions in this corridor is to improve mobility, promote sustainability, and preserve environmental resources. The Plan calls for strategic investments in intracontinental transportation infrastructure and technology to increase competitiveness in global trade, create jobs and maximize economic potential. It is formed by two separate travel routes connecting the international border with Sonora, Mexico, with Las Vegas, Nevada. One leg includes the route adopted in furtherance of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). This route follows a western alignment from Nogales, Mexico, through Tucson, Arizona, around the Phoenix metropolitan area to Wickenburg, then US 93 to the Las Vegas metropolitan area. A key element of transportation enhancements in this corridor include the proposed Interstate 11 Multimodal Corridor, which has evolved to represent the ultimate high-capacity travel corridor between I-19 south of Tucson and Las Vegas and beyond. The CANAMEX Corridor definition incorporates the concept of a Western Passage of the CANAMEX trade route with a focus on improving connections between western Arizona and Mexico. This connection would take the form of a new rail corridor linking Yuma, Arizona, with a proposed mega port at Punta Colonet, Mexico. The new rail corridor would have a linkage with UPRR Sunset Route while continuing north along the Colorado River to Las Vegas, Nevada. A resolution has been prepared in support of establishing this Western Passage, and recognition from the U.S. Congress has been requested. A second potential route for new rail service in Southern Arizona has been identified as the Hassayampa Rail Corridor, which would link the UPRR Sunset Route to the Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) Railway’s “Peavine” route in Wickenburg, Arizona with a potential connection to Sonora, Mexico, through Sonoyta" (Source).
A 2013 document from the Yuma Metropolitan Planning Organization discusses this CANAMEX Western Passage as thought it exists, but information on this is not readily available (check back for an update on this blog about the Western Passage).

We can assume that in some cases, references to CANAMEX may be avoided due to its potentially controversial connotation, such as is the case with the Trans-Texas Corridor. Many people with a wide range of politics disagree with having these "NAFTA Super Highways" run through our communities. Whether it be because of the impact NAFTA has had on the workers in each of the North American countries in the past 20 years, or because more nationalistic or even xenophobic worries about a "North American Union," CANAMEX pushers are likely to avoid putting the trade corridor in the spotlight.

The question is, who is deciding all of this? It is becoming rather obvious that state officials are not on the same page as federal officials, and in fact much of this is coming from private interests, local and international. The CANAMEX website stated, “Organizationally the development of the Corridor is advanced through a multi-state coalition including public and private sector representatives selected by the Governors of the five states” (Source).

It is clear that the new Transportation and Trade Corridor Alliance (TTCA) is meant to take on the role of pushing CANAMEX, whether under that name or not. In fact, the Arizona-Mexico Commission (AMC), of which Jim Kolbe is the CANAMEX expert, and John Halikowski of ADOT is committee member (both are co-chairs of TTCA), says the following on their website: "the Arizona Governor’s Transportation and Trade Corridor Alliance (TTCA)... encompasses the former CANAMEX Task Force." (Source). The TTCA "is heavily private sector and includes representatives from APL, Avnet, UPS, BNSF, W. L. Gore, port authorities, growers and brokers, Mexican manufacturers, Arizona Trucking Association, Sky Harbor Airport, and several of the state’s councils of governments and metropolitan planning organizations" (Source).

Local government has much less stake in massive trade infrastructure and other neoliberal projects, which may explain the disconnect and lack of organization. Even though the project to create private/public collaboration has been a long time in the making, clearly not everyone is on the same page. Regarding this project, some of the puzzle pieces are laid out in "Highway to hell? CANAMEX, Loop 202, and the Tar Sands," one of the main ones being the TTCA/AMC/Jim Kolbe/Thomas F. “Mack” McLarty III/Council of the Americas/North American Competitiveness Council/Security and Prosperity Partnership (SPP) connection.
From the “Findings of the Public/Private Sector Dialogue on the Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America” report [2006]: “High-level attention from the private sector on the importance of North American cooperation is needed to establish a positive political profile for SPP. CEO-level engagement in this process is called for, participants said, and it is necessary for the private sector to communicate not only with governments but also with the public to help build greater understanding and support for a North American agenda... Strong, private sector-led initiatives resulting in regional transportation advancements are being put in place, initiated by local actors, with local interests... Transportation, it was observed, is fertile ground for public-private partnerships, but bureaucratic obstacles to the creation of cross-border infrastructure can be prohibitive of such efforts” (my emphasis).
The good news is that it is evident that they haven't completely accomplished their goals if not everyone, such as Halikowski, is on the same page. However, they have accomplished a lot. CANAMEX exists in many ways, and the pieces are slowly falling together for I-11, assuming funding becomes available. That's the other goal they're seemingly accomplishing. These public-private partnerships are increasingly being used for infrastructure such as transportation. We've already seen it with a possible Loop 202 South Mountain Freeway public-private partnership. Perhaps this is just a warm-up for such a partnership for the I-11, which could potentially even be a toll road.

Update: This May 18 article about the trade corridor running through Southern Idaho also does not mention CANAMEX, as though it doesn't already run through Idaho.

Appendix A:
You can see for yourself the overlap between these various entities.

  • John Halikowski: State Transportation Board, AMC, TTCA
  • Victor Flores: State Transportation Board, AMC, TTCA
  • Hank Rogers: State Transportation Board, AMC
  • Jack Sellers: State Transportation Board, AMC
  • Jim Kolbe: TTCA, AMC, formerly CANAMEX Coalition
  • James Manson: TTCA, AMC
  • Gary Magrino: TTCA, AMC
  • Mary Peters: TTCA, formerly of CANAMEX Coalition
  • Margie Emmerman, TTCA, AMC, formerly of CANAMEX Coalition
  • Bruce Wright, TTCA, AMC, formerly of CANAMEX Coalition
  • Tom Skancke Executive Director of I-11 Coalition, formerly CANAMEX Coalition
  • Dave Berry President of the I-11 Coalition, formerly AZ Governor's CANAMEX task force
Appendix B:
Below are some of the maps that portray I-11, sometimes in the context of a larger trade corridor and sometimes not.

From Interstate 11 Coalition's Steve Betts' presentation to the ACA on 1/11/2012

Figure 2. From MAG's 12/11/2013 Expanding Border Zones Statewide presentation
showing a different trade route along with CANAMEX

from Scott Omer's 3/14/14 Intermountain West Corridor presentation


Appendix C:

This is what Cherie Campbell, representing the Pima Association of Governments Regional Council, had to say about it at this meeting: "...As you know, the feds designated the CANAMEX corridor to extend from Canada to Mexico as a high-priority corridor probably, what, 15, 20 years ago. And it included portions of I-10 and I-19. And then with Map-21, the most recent federal transportation legislation, the addition of I-11 to that scenario became a reality. And that designation was only from Phoenix to the Las Vegas area. And ADOT, in fact, undertook a study of that particular route in a very specific manner, but also incorporated this larger concept of the Intermountain West Corridor and looking at the southern connectivity of a potential future I-11 and the need for that to extend southward to Mexico. In that effort, ADOT looked at a variety of alternatives. And the draft report that was issued earlier -- or late last year, did recommend that a focus occur an Alternative (C), which comes through the Pima County region and extends to Nogales, and that that route be considered for further study and further incorporation as a potential I-11 corridor, should that be designated in the future. So our board looked at that and believes that that was the right recommendation." (page 90-91 of feb 14, 2014 state transportation board notes)

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Loop 202 Public-Private Partnership Rejected but Another P3 a possibility

The South Mountain Freeway Loop 202 extension public-private partnership (P3) that had been announced last July has apparently been rejected. In the transcribed minutes of the January 17, 2014 Arizona State Transportation Board Meeting, Gail Lewis, the director of the ADOT Office of P3 Initiatives and International Affairs, stated that the proposal included a pre-development agreement which was determined not to work for the Loop 202 because it was too far along in the process.

The plan is still in place to seek out a P3 as a funding alternative for the project. ADOT will likely put out a Request for Proposals (RFP), after which the proposals would be solicited, as opposed to unsolicited as was the last one. Lewis stated,
"The RFP would not be done until after the release of the final [Environmental Impact Statement (EIS)] in July, and although we may put out a request for proposals prior to the Record of Decision in October, we would not ask for those proposals to be returned to the agency until after the ROD had been delivered. That would give respondents an opportunity to take all of the findings in the ROD into account when they deliver a proposal, and it would also guarantee that we're not in any way deciding on the outcome of the ROD report; it's actually delivered."

The transcription of the discussion on Loop 202 or "South Mountain Corridor" starts on page 83 of the Agenda for the upcoming April 11 meeting in Marana, AZ.

The timing of the EIS, as well as that of the ROD, which comes from the federal government, are estimates. In addition, it was acknowledged that the EIS would likely be challenged.  

An industry forum and P3 briefing was held as part of a request for information on February 27, 2014. The presentation document did not clearly indicate that the unsolicited proposal had been rejected. It had been certain from the start that other proposals would be sought and this was a continuation of that process.

It was clear, however, from that presentation, that the concerns presented in "Companies seek partnership with ADOT to profit on freeway, Part 2: The Methods" were on the mark and are still relevant. Page twenty shows that they prepared a Draft TIFIA Letter of Interest, and on the following page, they list availability payments as an option for funding.

The unsolicited proposal was submitted in February 2013 by the South Mountain Development Group. The proposal was technically unsolicited but red flags were raised by the longstanding relationships between public (such as ADOT) and private interests, and their pro-P3 organizations, as explored in "Companies seek partnership with ADOT to profit on freeway, Part1: The Networks". Most of the concerns laid out in that two-part article remain largely the same, aside from the fact that the specific companies such as Sundt and Kiewit may not be the ones involved in a future P3. Representatives of these companies and several others attended the Industry Forum in February. A list of attendees can be seen here. This list includes representatives of AECOM, a large company who has interest and involvement in P3s and the Sun Corridor.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Update on South Mountain Freeway P3

The following was just recently posted to the ADOT website:

South Mountain Freeway Public-Private Partnership Concept Advances
‘Request for Information’ next step for public-private partnership proposa [sic]
The Arizona Department of Transportation has released a Request for Information related to the proposal to construct the South Mountain Freeway as a public-private partnership, if the freeway is approved through the ongoing federal environmental process. Those with an interest in the public-private partnership proposal are encouraged to submit comments to ADOT’s Office of P3 Initiatives by February 25.
The purpose of this Request for Information is to seek the industry’s perspective and feedback on specific questions, and to provide an opportunity for industry input on the overall procurement process for the proposed project. Interested organizations and individuals are encouraged to submit responses with detailed comments. The information contained in the responses to this Request for Information will help ADOT advance planning and development efforts for the project; help confirm or refine ADOT’s project procurement, financing and delivery approach; and may result in the launch of a formal Request for Proposals.
This Request for Information is the next step for the unsolicited public-private partnership proposal submitted to ADOT in 2013 – the first unsolicited proposal for a highway public-private partnership submitted to the agency. Under state law, ADOT is required to conduct a review of the proposal before deciding if the concept merits an open solicitation for other companies to submit competitive proposals.
The South Mountain Freeway remains a corridor under study, and this public-private partnership proposal has no impact on the ongoing environmental impact statement that is scheduled to be finalized in 2014. The environmental impact statement must be completed and acceptable to the Federal Highway Administration regardless of how the proposed project is funded or constructed.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Plunder Road: CANAMEX and the Emerging Impact of NAFTA, TPP on Western North America


As people across the world honor the twentieth anniversary of the Zapatista Liberation Army rising up in response to the implementation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), resistance continues, most notably against resource extraction and other infrastructure. Meanwhile, what some call “NAFTA on steroids,” the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is currently pending agreement involving the North American countries and others scattered around the Pacific. And rather quietly, a transportation project called the CANAMEX Corridor is underway to facilitate trade along a north-south corridor of western North America. This corridor runs from a port on the Pacific coast of Mexico, through Arizona, Nevada, Utah, Idaho, Montana, and north near the Tar Sands in Alberta, Canada.

Opposition to the CANAMEX Corridor is necessary not only because it is a major piece of the physical infrastructure needed to facilitate this trade. Its function in international trade is also used to justify the damage brought by its imposition locally, throughout the corridor. CANAMEX, designated as a High Priority Corridor shortly after NAFTA was implemented, already exists in the form of highways, but requires improvement and expansion to effectively facilitate trade.

The trade corridors of North America, CANAMEX being one of them, are extensions of NAFTA. They function as the infrastructure, such as roads, rail, ports, etc., that perpetuates the harms caused by so-called free trade. Among the effects of NAFTA since its implementation have been dramatic unemployment and displacement in Mexico due to subsidized US agricultural products such as corn, and a shift in privatization/ownership of Mexican land by private interests. One of the worst environmentally damaging projects in the world is the Tar Sands extraction in Alberta, Canada, which is in operation at its current level largely due to the NAFTA obligations to supply oil to the US. CANAMEX would also be an important corridor of TPP trade due to its Pacific seaport in Guaymas, Mexico, and its proximity to the west coast in general.

The impact of CANAMEX involves displacement of people and destruction of sacred sites and the environment, thereby affecting indigenous communities and various others. Trade transportation infrastructure is necessary for free movement of goods across borders, but along with it must come heightened border security in response to displacement caused by the impacts of trade agreements. Because it requires fuel, trade infrastructure is one of the primary reasons for resource extraction and is an extension of colonialism. Additionally, it is justified and imposed locally in the form of development and sprawl with compounded reliance on energy and resources such as water.

A project increasingly being used to circumvent the obstacle of lack of funding for these trade corridors is called a public-private partnership (P3), which is an arrangement that is essentially privatization but with some state control. Having been utilized throughout the world, P3s in North America seem now more than ever to go hand-in-hand with trade infrastructure development and neoliberalism in general.

In simple terms, neoliberalism involves trade liberalization, privatization, and relaxation of state power in effort to allow for a free market economy. It is important to frame opposition to the practice of neoliberalism and its trade pacts, privatization, etc., by foremost addressing state collusion and repression, in addition to its form as an extension of colonialism and capitalism. State repression against resistance makes possible the ease with which these colonial/neoliberal projects expand.


Monday, January 13, 2014

CANAMEX and Loop 202

I found something I had initially overlooked during my extensive research on CANAMEX, that relates specifically to the Loop 202.  In "Highway to Hell?" I wrote that the South Mountain Free way Extension, aka Loop 202 was not part of the official CANAMEX route, but would facilitate some of this traffic either way.  Other opponents of the Loop 202, such as folks who are part of Protect Arizona's Resources and Children (PARC) have pointed out that the extension's purpose is as a truck bypass.

As you can see in this map, Loop 202 was suggested as an option for CANAMEX and is clearly within the general path of CANAMEX.  I found this interesting, and so I'm sharing it with you.  This is one map overlaying another.  The thicker blue lines are part of a map of possibly routes for CANAMEX proposed by Kimley Horn & Associates, Inc. in a document called "Final Report" prepared for ADOT in 2000.  Over it, I placed the map of possible routes for the Pecos Road alignment.  As you can see they're pretty similar because ADOT had been planning for Loop 2002 for a while.

The following is from
In the final report, this is the blurb on the Loop 202:
I wrote the following in "Highway to Hell?":
ADOT claims, “the CANAMEX corridor in Maricopa County takes trucks from I-10 south of the Valley across I-8 to State Route 85, avoiding the metro-Phoenix area.” This information, however, doesn’t match other details on CANAMEX’s route through Arizona.
Although over time, the routes included in maps of the CANAMEX Corridor have changed slightly, ADOT’s information has to do with the route they recommended in a Resolution in 2001 (Source). Back then, there had been no good news for at least seven years that funding would be available for the Loop 202 extension (Source). At this point their information seems especially, and perhaps intentionally, out-of-date.
 In some ways it doesn't matter whether it's part of the official CANAMEX Corridor route or not.  What does matter is if it's being pushed because it will serve the purpose of the trade corridor, in addition to whether it does act as a truck bypass bringing with it the additional pollution and risks.  This is something to keep an eye on.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

The Sprawling Sun Corridor

One of the main complaints by Phoenix-area residents is the problem of sprawl.  Yet a number of projects are counting on and encouraging continuing development in the coming decades.  The "Sun Corridor" is the name given to the area encompassing Phoenix and Tucson, often including Prescott and perhaps south to Nogales.  It is the term given to this concept of a megapolitan region or megalopolis characterized by large population and the economic merging of more than one city.  It is also part of the CANAMEX trade corridor that acts as one of several NAFTA freeways connecting Canada with Mexico.

Recently, news has come out about an international trade center called "PhoenixMart" in Casa Grande, an international airpark in Goodyear including a foreign trade zone, and the experimental fallowing of Yuma farmlands in effort to ensure water supply for the Sun Corridor sprawl.  Meanwhile, the port of Guaymas, an important trade hub for CANAMEX will possibly double in the next few years.

Environmental and health concerns, threats to sacred sites integral to indigenous survival, displacement of people from their homes, are among the reasons people oppose increased development.  If it's not the people of Arizona who want development, then who is it?  People who stand to profit in one way or another seek to make connections with government to push their agenda through various organizations and conferences.  Private interests have the means to impact prioritization and placement of transportation infrastructure.


In "PhoenixMart seen as catalyst" Melissa St. Aude writes,
Casa Grande could someday be the epicenter of a sprawling Sun Corridor megalopolis, spanning from Tucson to Phoenix.  That was the vision given Friday by PhoenixMart Chief Executive Officer Steve Betts and AZ Sourcing President Jeremy Schoenfelder...
At the center of the megalopolis would be PhoenixMart, a nearly 2-million-square-foot sourcing center with 1,750 manufacturer showroom suites, attracting wholesale buyers from around the world and triggering development of various spin-off businesses ranging from hotels, restaurants and warehouses to other services.1 
KJZZ reports, "In November, AZ Sourcing is set to start building PhoenixMart...  About one third of those vendors are expected to be foreign companies."2 They did break ground in early November.

PhoenixMart promoters describe their reasons for choosing Casa Grande as having to do with the Sun Corridor and its increased population growth between Phoenix and Tucson, and its position as part of CANAMEX and other trade corridors.  They're also hoping for an "inland port" involving proximity to one or more Foreign Trade Zones (FTZ) and increased rail infrastructure.  FTZs and other such zones are being increasingly created to provide incentives to big companies to do business in those areas, allowing them to avoid paying certain taxes and fees.

The Interstate 11, recently designated as such by Congress, intending to connect Phoenix with Las Vegas and serving as an important leg of the CANAMEX Corridor, will actually reach as far south as Casa Grande (and perhaps beyond).  Robert Jackson, the mayor of Casa Grande, is a vice president of the Interstate 11 Coalition, and seems to be acting as a spokesperson for PhoenixMart.  He also is a board member of the Highway Expansion Loan Program (HELP), described as "the ADOT advisory board that oversees a comprehensive loan and financial assistance program for eligible highway projects in Arizona."3   Jackson spoke at last month's Public Private Partnership (PPP) Task Force Meeting.  "Mayor Jackson will speak about PhoenixMart and the 5 year federal funding process of the project. He will also speak to other Public Private Partnerships in Casa Grande such as the Francisco Grande. He will do a general update on Casa Grande and talk about his role in the Pinal County Partnership."4  Pinal Partnership's mission is to "Improve research, planning and coordination of private and public efforts related to infrastructure, natural resources and community development in Pinal County."  This is clearly a proponent of public-private partnerships and involves many members associated with P3s.5  (See for more on the relevance of public-private partnerships).  Although less relevant since he has since moved on, it was interesting that Steve Betts, former CEO of PhoenixMart, chairs the Interstate 11 Coalition in addition to chairing the Governance Committee for the Urban Land Institute Az District Council, a proponent of public-private partnerships (P3s or PPP).

The federal funding referred to is likely the EB5 funding which PhoenixMart recently qualified for.  It is not direct funding from the federal government, but an incentive to foreign investors.  "Foreign businessmen and women, through this program, are allotted a U.S. green card after providing a substantial investment (ranging from $500,000 to $1 million) in United States commerce that creates or preserves approximately 10 jobs for U.S. workers in economically repressed areas. The green card encompasses the investor, and dependents (spouse and children under 18), and gives them a U.S. residency approval for two years."6    Another example of how money talks in Arizona.

Goodyear AirPark

A business park is slated for development near the Phoenix Goodyear Airport in Goodyear, a town south-west of Phoenix.  Its proximity to the proposed Loop 202 extension could be important since many opponents of the freeway have pointed out the likelihood of it being used as a truck bypass.  Certainly business ventures such as this airpark would like to make freight traffic easier near their location.  In addition, their Foreign Trade Zone status reinforces the assertions that many have made that transportation projects prioritize trade traffic over local traffic.  The proximity of Interstate 11 might also be significant.
The Foreign Trade Zone capability sweetens the site for users involved with importing goods into the U.S. The variable zoning potential for the site permits flex buildings, offices, logistics and manufacturing. The FTZ takes 75 percent off property tax bills when buildings are moved under the zone’s umbrella.
Goodyear Airpark will sit on the I-10 traffic reliever. When developed, the parkway is to connect the interstate highway to the Loop 202 South Mountain Freeway.7 


In a few months, an experiment will begin as part of an attempted solution to the water issue related to this Sun Corridor sprawl.  "Since state law requires communities to prove that they have an 'assured supply' of water, the [Central Arizona Groundwater Replenishment District (CAGRD)] — by moving water around the region — makes available what nature does not."
"In addition to the fallowing program, the CAGRD has leased water from the White Mountain Apache tribe."8 

The report explains,
A pilot farmland-fallowing project — which will begin in January 2014 — will pay farmers not to grow crops, thus freeing up water that could be transferred to cities in the Sun Corridor, a metropolitan region centered on Phoenix, where the population could increase 50 percent by 2040 to 9 million residents, according to researchers at Arizona State University.9 
Presumably, the ASU researchers referred to here are part of the Morrison Institute.10  It is likely that the popularity of the term "Sun Corridor" is owed to the Morrison Institute and its reports, primarily authored by Grady Gammage Jr.  The problem is that these reports are not just observations on population and economic trends.  There is a specific interest in the success of this sprawling growth.  For example, Gammage Jr.'s ASU webpage describes him as “a sometime real estate developer” and states, "As a lawyer, he has represented real estate projects ranging from master-planned communities to sprawling subdivisions to high rise buildings and intense urban mixed use redevelopment."11  In the past, his avoidance of conflicts of interest has been questionable.  Regarding a past issue it was said that, “His dual roles were never disclosed to the public, so the report's readers had no idea that the author developing scenarios for selling off state-owned property was also working with a developer who was seeking to buy some of that very same property.”12 

Gammage Jr., among others, has acknowledged that things have changed since the Sun Corridor report predicted massive growth.  Last month, the Eloy Enterprise reported that,
"Experts predicted that by 2040, the megapolitan region would have a population of between 10 and 15 million people. Then the housing bubble burst and those figures were scaled back. The counties of Maricopa, Pinal and Pima combined are now projected to have 8.5 million residents by 2040.

'I say it’s going to happen, but it’s going to be slower than what was expected,' said Jim Dinkle, executive director of the Central Arizona Regional Economic Development Foundation. 'I’ve always said, in 20 years I think this will be a megalopolis where Tucson and Phoenix are connected and we are right between them. I think it will be built out in both directions.'"13
This farm-fallowing experiment and lease of water from the indigenous communities is only one piece of the larger picture concerning southwest water concerns.  Water issues in Arizona are rather complicated and volatile, and will be increasingly important.  Recent hearings on proposals to address the pollution caused by the Navajo Generating Station, a coal plant that powers movement of water through the Central Arizona Project to get it to Phoenix, illuminated the ongoing, if not worsening, issue of Phoenix's reliance on water.
"For decades this plant has emitted massive amounts of preventable pollution into the skies above our national parks like the Grand Canyon, Petrified Forest and Mesa Verde, as well as into the lungs of hundreds of thousands of local residents and visitors to these magnificent places,” said the Arizona Program Manager for the National Parks Conservation Association, Kevin Dahl, in a statement on November 11. “The pollution from this plant must be substantially reduced as soon as possible, for the sake of our lungs and our parks.”14
The prevention proposed by the EPA could cost over a billion dollars15 but what is the cost of allowing the pollution to continue?  If it's already this bad, why encourage more growth? Those with interests to develop the Sun Corridor region tend to be aware of water issues and will probably seek ways to make their efforts "greener".

Port of Guaymas

On a larger scale, the Port of Guaymas in Mexico, often said to be an end point of CANAMEX, is likely to grow in relation to the trade infrastructure that feeds it.  The Arizona Daily Star recently reported,
A multimillion-dollar investment to more than double the capacity of its deep-water seaport is underway, and within two years an additional nine docks are to be built to support ocean vessels hauling everything from coal and grain to durable goods and automobiles... Making the Guaymas port an alternative to the crowded ports in California could be a boon for Arizona, whose border is just 260 miles north. Arizona could serve as an entry point for imports, and local suppliers could benefit by being part of the manufacturing supply chain.16  
Nearby in Empalme is a trade zone and rail that leads to Arizona.  Likely, goods which will mostly come from Asia, we can assume, will be transported to foreign trade zones (FTZs) in Arizona.

Despite the promise of local jobs that pro-development hucksters keep hyping, the trade economy (which CANAMEX would extend) continues the trend of out-sourcing jobs to places where goods can be produced more cheaply, such as Mexico and China.  Trade infrastructure is not a solution to the problems locally, they are just ways for rich people to continue to make money.

10 and