Stop CANAMEX, Stop the Intermountain West Corridor and I-11! Stop the Sun Corridor! Stop the 202!

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.

See updates on the Loop 202 here.