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

Thursday, December 27, 2012

The Status of CANAMEX

some updates below were added 12/9/2013

While in many ways CANAMEX already exists, in that existing highways (and other modes of transportation) are used to facilitate international trade, it is not considered completed until it is much more efficient.  It is a slow process, perhaps slowed by lack of funding, and without lots of research it is difficult to tell if anything is happening at all, especially since the CANAMEX Coalition seems to no longer exist.  Compiled below are some pieces of CANAMEX that have come together, or are in the process.  As you will notice, several moves have been made just this past year.
If you do your own research or follow the news, keep in mind that the term "CANAMEX" may not necessarily be used.  It is more than likely that if you see the term "trade corridor" in reference to Arizona-related transportation, it is referring to CANAMEX.
As stated in "Highway to Hell?" pro-CANAMEX organizations such as the Arizona-Mexico Commission are heavily involved in much if not all of this, particularly the newer Arizona-based TTCA and AIDA (see below).

Port of Guaymas, Mexico
"In 2004, an [Arizona-Mexico Commission] Transportation Committee study investigated and assessed the viability of the Port of Guaymas as a potential maritime addition to the Canamex Corridor. In 2008, cruise ships began docking in the now deepwater port" (Source).
Update 12/2013: The Port of Guaymas is slated to double in size in the next couple years.  (Source).

Hoover Dam Bypass/Mike O'Callaghan–Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge
"The Hoover Dam Bypass is a critical link in the CANAMEX Corridor – a transportation and economic development ‘highway’ that is vital to the people of Arizona and the western U.S." – Victor Mendez, Director Arizona Department of Transportation, 2004 (Source).
From the CANAMEX wikipedia page: "...the route of U.S. Route 93 across northwestern Arizona, which at the time included a slow windy route over the Hoover Dam. The Hoover Dam Bypass opened in December 2010 resolving this issue." (Source).
"Traffic volume is expected to increase 50% over the next 20 years for this section of U.S. Highway 93, which is part of the CANAMEX Corridor—a high-priority trade route that is part of the North American Free Trade Agreement between the U.S., Mexico and Canada."
Illia, Tony; Cho, Aileen (7 December 2009). "Buffeted by High Winds and Setbacks, a Bypass Is Making History Near Hoover Dam". Engineering News-Record (New York: The McGraw-Hill Companies) 263 (18): 18. ISSN 0891-9526/92

See also the I-11 Timeline

Boulder City Bypass
"Boulder City’s city council recently passed a resolution removing US-93 as part of Canamex in favor of a new bypass around Boulder City to be built later." (2010, Source).
According to a December 13, 2012 article, "The Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada (RTC) has issued a request for information for a $330 million 19.3km stretch of the proposed Boulder City Bypass. Feedback is due Monday, exactly one month before a planned meeting 17 January..." (Source). 

"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.
According to the RTC, federal funding for the Boulder City bypass wouldn't come until 2035.
Estimates with the public-private partnership have the bypass finished sometime between 2018 and 2019." (2012, Source).
See also: Boulder City/CANAMEX Bypass
Update 12/2013: The Boulder City Bypass has been incorporated into the plans for Interstate 11 and is referred to as the I-11 Loop, but seems likely to be prioritized in terms of construction while other aspects of I-11 are being studied.  A public-private partnership involving a toll-road was being studied, and legislation passed to make it an option (source), but was abandoned in favor of a gas tax increase (Source).

"... 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 – allowing significant commerce, tourism and international trade opportunities across the Western United States." (Source).
"U.S. representatives from Arizona and Nevada... say I-11 is the missing piece in the Canamex Corridor...  According to the Canamex Corridor Coalition’s website, the corridor extends from Nogales, AZ, to Phoenix, northwest to Las Vegas, picking up I-15 to Salt Lake City, through Idaho Falls, ID, and through Montana to the border with Alberta, Canada. The portion linking Phoenix and Las Vegas is currently designated as U.S. Route 93, but it would become I-11 if the designation remains in the highway bill." (Source). (The highway bill mentioned is probably MAP-21, which was recently passed and is discussed below.
In July, 2012, "Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21) amended TEA-21--defining US93 between Phoenix and Las Vegas as a high priority corridor and designating it as future Interstate 11 (I-11)" (Source).
"This bill would speed up funding for studying, engineering, and possibly building the highway, but it could still take a decade or two to complete. The high price tag makes I-11 in Arizona a leading candidate to become Arizona's first toll road. The legislature passed a law in 2009 that opened the door for private investors to team up with the Arizona Department of Transportation" (Source).

See also the I-11 Timeline

"The Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21) is a funding and authorization bill to govern United States federal surface transportation spending. It was passed by Congress on June 29, 2012, and President Barack Obama signed it on July 6" (Source).
This image is not part of MAP-21 as originally thought.
As you can see on the map, the route in yellow includes the CANAMEX Corridor.
"Congress recently passed a new, two-year federal highway bill, Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (or MAP-21), that not only gives priority funding to these ‘high priority’ trade corridors, it also makes it easier to hand them over to private corporations using controversial public private partnership (P3) toll contracts... The three proposed NAFTA international trade corridors that connect with Mexico and Canada that are of primary interest in MAP-21 are: TTC-69/I-69 (from Laredo, Texas to Port Huron, Michigan), Canamex (from Arizona to Montana), and Ports to Plains (from Laredo to North Dakota). Three particular sections of the bill specifically advance the corridors. Several additional sections prioritize them through secondary means." (Source).

The Arizona Transportation and Trade Corridor Alliance was announced by Governor Brewer at a plenary session in February of 2012, and Jim Kolbe of the Arizona-Mexico Commission was added as co-chair (joining ADOT's Halikowski) in July (Source). It "will study border infrastructure, border-entry capacity and competitiveness in Arizona and its Mexican sister state of Sonora" (Source).
According to the minutes the July 25, 2012 MAG meeting, “Gail Lewis, Director of the Office of P3 Initiatives and International Affairs of the Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT), reported on the Arizona Transportation & Trade Corridor Alliance... Ms. Lewis stated that the Alliance 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..Ms. Lewis stated that the new federal transportation legislation, Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21)... She said that it requires that state departments of transportation develop a freight plan and suggests that each state have a freight advisory committee. Ms. Lewis stated that the Alliance fills the federal requirements, which give the Alliance a set of substantive responsibilities..” [my emphasis] (Source).
Update 12/2013: No other source had linked TTCA directly to CANAMEX by name until now.  The Arizona-Mexico Commission, of which Jim Kolbe is the CANAMEX expert, and John Halikowski of ADOT is member, says the following on their website: "the Arizona Governor’s Transportation and Trade Corridor Alliance (TTCA)... encompasses the former CANAMEX Task Force." (Source).

The Arizona International Development Authority had their first meeting in June of 2012.  From the August 17, 2012 State Transportation Board Meeting: "AIDA was established by the Legislature back in the mid-90s, it never really formed until their first meeting in June of this year...The difference between AIDA and TTCA is AIDA will include the development, financing and or operation of infrastructure projects located within 62 miles north or six miles south of the Arizona-Mexico border. AIDA is empowered to enter into contracts and agreements, including partnerships and joint ventures with. US and Mexican public and private entities. They can also acquire, operate, sell, lease or otherwise dispose of projects and can issue revenue bonds in order to finance its operations. The financing for AIDA will come from the International Development Authority Fund, which consists of monies from multiple sources including tolls, fees, rents revenues, interest, gifts, grants, donations, and appropriations from the State and Federal Government. The bad news at this time is there are no funds appropriated to AIDA..." (Source).
See also: AIDA

Saturday, December 22, 2012

The CANAMEX Sun Corridor, the Basics Part 2

What is the Sun Corridor? This is a concept of the area from Phoenix to Tucson (or from Prescott to Nogales) as a "megapolitan" or "megaregion," basically a huge city or set of cities connected by transportation, and with a much higher concentration of people than currently.  It is often discussed as part of CANAMEX.  The growth and development is imagined as a result of increased freight traffic through the area due to international trade. See Megapolitan in a Mega-Drought? A Guide to the Sun Corridor for much more information.

 The Loop 202 is part of the Sun Corridor and part of CANAMEX.  Even if the Loop 202 extension is not considered part of the official CANAMEX Corridor, it is clear that it would serve to facilitate trade.

If you oppose the Tar Sands, you oppose CANAMEX.  The CANAMEX Corridor would run through Alberta, near where the Tar Sands are.  It is not to be confused with a pipeline, such as the Keystone XL Pipeline which would also run from the Tar Sands through the U.S.  The transportation corridor would instead facilitate the movement of people, supplies, equipment, etc. to the Tar Sands (including temporary labor, i.e. guest workers), and other trade to and from Canada.

Understanding NAFTA: 

From the perspective of the ruling class, the North America Free Trade Accord (NAFTA), signed on January 1, 1994, is the defining legal structure for future United States economic relations with the rest of Latin America. NAFTA integrates the economies of Mexico, the United States and Canada by eliminating most trade and investment controls over a 10-year period, with some agricultural tariffs phased out over 15 years. NAFTA builds on the US-Canada Free Trade Agreement signed in 1988.

  • NAFTA provides for the strongest intellectual property rights (patents, copyrights, and trademarks) in any bilateral or international agreement. This is particularly favorable for US-based high tech, pharmaceutical and entertainment companies.
  • Prior to NAFTA, Mexico could review all foreign investment proposals to determine if they were in the national interest. NAFTA abolishes this right.
  • NAFTA prevents governments at all levels from giving preference to procurement from local suppliers or promoting local-content provisions.
  • NAFTA provides for expedited travel visas for businesspersons wishing to travel between the US and Mexico, but makes no provisions for working class people wishing to travel.
  • NAFTA eliminates equity and market share restrictions for financial services such as insurance, banking and securities.
  • Under Chapter 11 provisions, NAFTA permits investors to sue host governments before secret panels made up of trade experts, who are prohibited from considering national laws or traditions in forming their decisions. Deliberations are carried out in secret and civil society is prohibited from presenting testimony.
  • In preparation for signing NAFTA, the US insisted on over 300 changes in Mexico's constitution and legal structure. Perhaps the most significant was the reform of Article 27 of the constitution, ending land distribution to campesinos under the ejido program.
After a decade of NAFTA, the results are obvious - corporations have benefited handsomely while the working class on both sides of the border suffers declining living standards. NAFTA has been nothing short of a disaster, yet it is proudly trumpeted by the ruling class as the blueprint for the Free Trade Area of the Americas, a proposed (and ultimately failed) trade agreement that would have included every nation in the hemisphere except Cuba.

CANAMEX would not provide more jobs.  Just as NAFTA failed North American workers in general, so will its trade corridors.  The corridors allow for more imports of products made in Mexico (at very low wages) as well as from Asia (for even lower wages).  Promoters of the CANAMEX and Sun Corridors promise economic prosperity due to increase in trade traffic, but it is only likely to make it hotter, more polluted, less biodiverse, or worse.

Read "Highway to Hell?" for much more information and cited sources.
Also see "Basics Part 1".

Saturday, December 15, 2012

The CANAMEX Sun Corridor: the Basics, part 1

This is a work in progress: check back for updates.  See Part 2.

The piece titled "Highway to Hell? Canamex, Loop 202, and the Tar Sands" is a bit long and overwhelming.  Here are some of the basics that seem important at this point.  For further information, please view the entire article.

CANAMEX trade corridor is real.  Perhaps lacking funding, CANAMEX is real as an idea, as policy, and has form.  You can find many references to CANAMEX by local and federal government, and private pro-CANAMEX organizations.  It is meant to facilitate international trade set forth by the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) between Canada, the U.S. and Mexico (hence its name) and currently utilizes existing roadways and rail.  It is not efficient for this purpose, so parts of the route need to be brought up to the standards for easy-flowing freight traffic.  Often CANAMEX will be discussed vaguely as a trade corridor, perhaps because many people don't like the idea of a NAFTA "Super-Highway".  You can see in yellow in the the map below, the route of the CANAMEX Corridor (and beyond).  Edit: see the more recent post, The Status of CANAMEX.

CANAMEX might not be able to happen without Public-Private Partnerships. Public-private partnerships (P3) are business arrangements (or organizations seeking such arrangements) between government officials (public) and private entities such as corporations.  These are usually meant to use private funds to construct infrastructure (such as transportation routes), which would supposedly still be owned by the government with its policies, but would often be operated by the company (for profit of course).  Some would call this privatization- it is pretty close anyway.  This has been happening in the U.S. and several other countries, with increased popularity (among them).  The P3s can be traced back to the Security and Prosperity Partnership (SPP) (a secretive extension of NAFTA from 2005-2009) in the case of CANAMEX, due to connections between conversations about P3s and current promotion of CANAMEX.  The recently-passed MAP-21 (which is not a map, but stands for Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century) discusses and facilitates the use of P3s for local governments to move forward on trade infrastructure. Various private and P3 organizations in Arizona are promoting CANAMEX, even if not in name.

Need to Know P3s and others.  Arizona-Mexico Commission (AMC) is said to be the god-father of CANAMEX by Jim Kolbe, the CANAMEX expert member of AMC.  AMC consists of the AZ Governor, Jan Brewer, Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) director John Halikowski, private interests, and others.  Several members are part of the Maricopa Association of Governments (MAG) who makes decisions on freeways (in addition to ADOT), the Arizona Commerce Authority (ACA) (which seems to be a P3), Arizona International Development Authority (AIDA), and the newly formed Arizona-based Transportation and Trade Corridor Alliance (TTCA).  The TTCA is said to be "heavily private sector," made up of AMC, ACA, and government folks (ADOT), along with various other private interests (corporations and such).  Several people involved with all this are part of the I-11 Coalition, working to construct a more efficient route for freight traffic between Las Vegas and Phoenix, an important leg of the CANAMEX corridor.  AIDA was up until recently not functioning, but will be able to make contracts regarding infrastructure close to the border.  It appears that the P3 organizations' main goal is furthering the CANAMEX Corridor to benefit corporations, also by promoting P3 business arrangements.  For example, there is a possibility that the I-11 will be a tollway.  You should also know about the North American Center for Trans-border Studies (NACTS) at Arizona State University.  They have done research and promotion around CANAMEX and the Sun Corridor, partnered with AMC and others, and has links to SPP.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Highway to hell? CANAMEX, Loop 202, and the Tar Sands

Correction: The image of the map that says "House-Senate Transportation Conference Map-21" does not come from the MAP-21 legislation.  The MAP-21 legislation does not appear to reference CANAMEX, trade corridors, nor NAFTA.  My apologies for the misinformation.

printable version: pdf

Infrastructural projects such as highways, mines, pipelines, etc., are detrimental to the environment and health, and often lead to displacement, with disproportionately damaging effects on indigenous people.  This is what connects Arizona’s proposed Loop 202 Extension, aka South Mountain Freeway, with the Tar Sands (or Oil Sands) in Alberta, Canada.  The Loop 202 Extension, an 8-lane freeway, would displace residents in the Gila River Indian Community (GRIC) and elsewhere, and affects South Mountain, a sacred site.  It would also bring more traffic and pollution to the area.  In much the same way, the Tar Sands and the associated infrastructure such as the Keystone XL Pipeline that is getting so much press lately due to so many protesters (of which hundreds have been arrested[i]) brings the same kinds of ill effects, though worse.  To top it off, the Loop 202 is part of the Sun Corridor, a “megapolitan” or “mega-region” connecting Tucson and Phoenix (and perhaps Prescott and Nogales, AZ). And this happens to be part of the CANAMEX Corridor[ii], which links Alberta, Canada (where the Tar Sands are) with Guaymas (and/or Punta Colonet) in Mexico, running through Arizona and four other states of the U.S.  The Sun Corridor and CANAMEX already exist, utilizing existing freeways and rails, though they will not be considered completed without growth, expansion, and development--unless it’s stopped.

Whereas the Keystone XL Pipeline is actual piping that would carry the tar-sands bitumen from the Tar Sands through the U.S. to Texas, the CANAMEX Corridor (not to be confused with companies with the name Canamex) is a transportation route facilitating international trade.  Alberta claims to have initiated CANAMEX in the early 1990’s[iii] likely due in much part to the fact that U.S. businesses supply equipment, parts, and services for their Tar Sands projects.”[iv]  We can assume that some of these items also come from Mexico and/or Asia, whom as we know, pay much lower wages, which has meant outsourcing of U.S. jobs. More significantly, the Arizona-Mexico Commission also claims credit for CANAMEX.[v] They discuss how the CANAMEX Corridor serves to facilitate the trade laid out by NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement), but trade with Asia has also been emphasized.[vi]  You may have heard of “NAFTA Superhighways” as part of a conspiracy theory in the interest of a North American Union with a central government, but these NAFTA trade corridors are not theories, but are discussed, if quietly, by official state institutions.[vii]  For example, CANAMEX is listed as a Program on the ADOT (Arizona Department of Transportation) Systems and Regional Planning website[viii] and promoted in a recent edition of the Maricopa Association of Government’s (MAG) newsletter.[ix]


Is the Loop 202 Extension part of the CANAMEX Corridor?  
To be accurate, the Loop 202 Extension/South Mountain Freeway has been in the works for longer than CANAMEX, and ADOT insists that it is not part of CANAMEX.[x]  However, at this point, it is highly likely that any freeway development within the Sun Corridor is meant to facilitate international trade.  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.[xi]  Back then, there had been no good news for at least seven years that funding would be available for the Loop 202 extension.[xii]  At this point their information seems especially, and perhaps intentionally, out-of-date.  For example, these routes would bring CANAMEX outside of the Sun Corridor area, whereas the Sun Corridor is said to be part of CANAMEX.[xiii]  According to the CANAMEX wikipedia page there are discrepancies about the route, but none of it mentions I-8 nor Route 85. “The official designation in Arizona is Interstate 10 to U.S. Route 93 at Phoenix. However, US 93 does not enter Phoenix or connect with I-10. US 93 currently terminates at Wickenburg northwest of Phoenix. To make this connection currently requires driving U.S. Route 60, a surface street through the western suburbs of Phoenix not compliant with the standards established by the treaty. The chosen alternative for resolution will complete a compliant connection between Wickenburg and Phoenix via an upgrade and extension to Arizona State Route 303.[xiv]


The proximity of the connection between where the Route 303 and the Loop 202 Extension connect with the I-10 makes it pretty clear that the Loop 202 extension would serve to facilitate CANAMEX freight transportation.  An Arizona Republic article reports, “Melanie Pai, president and one of the founders of Protecting Arizona's Resources and Children (PARC), said that the official route wouldn't necessarily be the one followed. That would especially be true for vehicles with business or facilities within Phoenix.  The proposed route is lengthy and anyone who has a stop in Phoenix will be using (the South Mountain Freeway) as an alternative,’ Pai said. ‘Two of the trucking companies, Swift and Knight, have facilities located just on the other side of (South Mountain). It's a shorter route.’”[xv]

There may or may not be a definite official CANAMEX route, but in urban areas, such as this megapolitan-to-be Sun Corridor region, which is part of the CANAMEX Corridor, general development and expansion of infrastructure such as highways, if they have their way, will be required for this trade traffic.  There is no question that CANAMEX is part of the state and county planning for transportation.[xvi]  It’s worth noting that MAG’s website highlights the South Mountain Freeway as a priority project.[xvii]  Mary Rose Wilcox, who serves on MAG’s Regional Council, up until recently was also part of the Arizona-Mexico Commission (AMC)[xviii] and has been an open proponent of the South Mountain Freeway cutting through GRIC.  The relationship between AMC, ADOT, and other groups is significant, as will be explained below.  The bottom line is that the Loop 202’s location is crucial in terms of the expected growth, development, and needs due to increased international freight traffic, whether or not it is part of the official route.  If for some reason it is not seen as important for implementation of CANAMEX efficiency, then it will be de-prioritized.  But either way, opposition to Loop 202, not being a not-in-my-backyard (NIMBY) approach, can find many reasons to oppose CANAMEX.

Public-Private Partnerships Push CANAMEX: Toll Roads Likely?

Recently, Joey Perez of Pangea, a development corporation whose interest is in the Loop 202 being built through GRIC land, justified their position arguing that CANAMEX is inevitable because it is mandated by NAFTA, and therefore to save the mountain, the extension should be built on the reservation.[xix]  Although he and Pangea stand to make some money from this freeway and associated development, they’re not necessarily one of the big players.  The big players aren’t even necessarily U.S government officials who are trying to enforce NAFTA.  It seems that although some money may have been allotted for NAFTA highways recently (MAP-21)[xx], the majority of the funding is expected to come from private sources.  In fact, 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.”[xxi]  This is where public-private partnerships (P3) come in.  Following a link to a P3 (or PPP) Toolkit from the Federal Highway Administration website,[xxii] you find this description: “In PPPs, a government agency typically contracts with a private company to renovate, build, operate, maintain, manage or finance a facility...  Though PPPs are not optimal for many transportation projects, they have been shown to reduce upfront public costs through accelerated or more efficient project delivery. PPPs don’t create new money but instead leverage private sector financial and other resources to develop infrastructure. In the end, a source of revenue such as tolls or other public revenue still is required to pay back the private investment” (my emphasis).[xxiii] 

The Arizona-Mexico Commission (AMC) is a public-private partnership, a non-profit organization[xxiv] that is said to be the godfather of CANAMEX by Jim Kolbe- and he would know.[xxv]  Arizona Governor Brewer who is a chair of the Arizona-Mexico Commission appointed Jim Kolbe as the chair of the Arizona Governor’s CANAMEX Task Force and is Arizona’s private sector designate to the multi-state CANAMEX coalition[xxvi] (unless the coalition is defunct?).[xxvii]  Not unrelated is the fact that, while a member of the House of Representatives, Kolbe voted for the Keystone XL Pipeline.[xxviii]  While it is unclear what happened to the CANAMEX Coalition ( redirects to the ADOT website), earlier this year, another group popped up in the interest of Arizona’s relationship with CANAMEX.  “In February 2012, Brewer asked that ADOT lead the Transportation and Trade Corridor Alliance... ADOT, in collaboration with the Arizona-Mexico Commission and the Arizona Commerce Authority, will bring together public and private sector partners to assess opportunities for Arizona to pursue investments in trade corridors such as the newly-designated Interstate 11, and to explore enhancements to border infrastructure.”[xxix]  The Transportation and Trade Corridor Alliance (TTCA) is co-chaired by AMC’s Kolbe and ADOT Director John Halikowski (who is also the Co-Chair of the Transportation, Infrastructure and Ports Committee of AMC). There is no question that this is about CANAMEX, considering AMC’s relationship to this corridor, in addition to I-11 (connecting Las Vegas and Phoenix) being part of CANAMEX.[xxx]  More intriguing connections will be illustrated later.

Arizona-Mexico Commission is not free of controversy.[xxxi]  Back in 2008, some legislators attempted (but failed) to push AMC and other Public-Private Partnerships (P3) to provide transparency[xxxii] due in part to Governor of Arizona and chair of AMC at the time, Janet Napolitano’s secrecy about AMC’s dealings.  The National Conference of State Legislatures currently lists
Arizona as a state with “broad enabling legislation” for P3’s, with no legislative oversight.[xxxiii]  Texas had problems with P3’s during their struggle with the Trans-Texas Corridor.[xxxiv]  Texans had no say in the Corridor which would have been funded and operated (with tolls) by a Spanish Consortium.[xxxv]  Texas citizens celebrated a victory when the Corridor was cancelled, although there were suspicions that it would continue under a different name.  Essentially organization is taking place to facilitate trade and secure private funding to provide the necessary infrastructure.  Here in Arizona, who wants or even knows about the CANAMEX Corridor?  It’s not your average resident.

Importantly, according to the minutes the July 25, 2012 MAG meeting, “Gail Lewis, Director of the Office of P3 Initiatives and International Affairs of the Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT), reported on the Arizona Transportation & Trade Corridor Alliance... Ms. Lewis stated that the Alliance 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..Ms. Lewis stated that the new federal transportation legislation, Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21)... She said that it requires that state departments of transportation develop a freight plan and suggests that each state have a freight advisory committee. Ms. Lewis stated that the Alliance fills the federal requirements, which give the Alliance a set of substantive responsibilities..”[xxxvi] (my emphasis).  Gail Lewis used to be on the board of the AMC,[xxxvii] and did her presentation just after AMC did theirs at the same meeting.[xxxviii]  Arizona Commerce Authority, also part of the TTCA, is another private pro-CANAMEX organization headed by Jan Brewer.[xxxix]  There are a few other connections between AMC and state committees.[xl]

This image was promoted as part of MAP-21 but does not seem to be.  

It is difficult to tell just what this recently-passed MAP-21 (Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century) will bring.  MAP-21 provides resources for states’ ability to put P3’s in place.[xli] Last year,
John McGee, Executive Director for Planning and Policy for ADOT said that the Interstate 11 can’t be built without a P3, meaning that one of the most important pieces of the CANAMEX route in Arizona can’t happen without private funding.[xlii]  According to the Arizona Builders Exchange, MAP-21 officially designated and also provides funding for a study to build I-11.[xliii]  I-11 still requires a lot more funding in order to be built.  ADOT discusses potential P3’s on their website, including the I-11.[xliv]   ADOT has very recently discussed in a meeting the potential for P3s and tolling,[xlv] which can also be seen on the Interstate 11 Corridor Study FAQ page.[xlvi]  There doesn’t appear to be any current efforts to create a public-private partnership in effort to build Loop 202... yet.  Although we can probably expect pressure from the U.S. Government to build up CANAMEX, it appears that it can not happen without the government partnering with corporations--perhaps even foreign ones--who would only enter into this relationship if they stand to profit from it.  The Arizona-Mexico Commission is all too willing to facilitate P3s.   What are the interests of AMC, other public-private partnerships, and corporations?

The Ghost of the Security and Prosperity Partnership
Security and Prosperity Partnership (SPP), launched in 2005 as an extension of NAFTA,[xlvii] has everything to do with these various problems of infrastructure.  “The SPP calls for maximization of North American economic competitiveness in the face of growing exports from India and China; expedited means of resource (oil, natural gas, water, forest products) extraction; secure borders against ‘organized crime, international terrorism, and illegal migration’; standardized regulatory regimes for health, food safety, and the environment; integrated energy supply through a comprehensive resource security pact (primarily about ensuring that the US receives guaranteed flows of the oil in light of ‘Middle East insecurity and hostile Latin American regimes’); and coordination amongst defense forces... The SPP calls for a fivefold increase in tar sands production.”[xlviii]  It’s no surprise that the implementation of CANAMEX was a project of SPP.[xlix] It is worth noting that SPP sought to undermine labor laws and promote temporary worker programs as part of their intensification of “neoliberalism through an increased reliance on labor flexibility as a means of increasing profits.”  SPP is not an official treaty, rather “it is presented as a vague ‘dialogue based on shared values.’ Made operational through nineteen working groups that are outside the legislative process, the SPP has escaped any public debate.”[l]

SPP was announced dead in 2009.  However, it is worth researching the connections between SPP and other entities that are pushing CANAMEX and similar projects.  SPP was rather secretive, so it is hard to know who was involved and who is carrying on the neoliberal[li] project now.  It is interesting that Jim Kolbe of the AMC works for McLarty Associates, whose president, Thomas F. “Mack” McLarty III, “was a key figure in the creation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA).”[lii]  McLarty is also on the Board of Directors of the Council of the Americas[liii], which was part of the North American Competitiveness Council (NACC) instituted by SPP in 2006.  The Origins of the NACC? “In January of 2006, the Council of the Americas and the North American Business Council issued a report titled, ‘Findings of the Public/Private Sector Dialogue on the Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America,’ which called for the establishment of a ‘North American competitiveness council.’”[liv] Two members of the McLarty Associates Team co-authored that report.[lv]  Five UPS affiliates were also co-authors the “Findings...” report[lvi] and sponsored the event associated with the report[lvii] and became part of the NACC.  Recall that UPS is now part of the Arizona Transportation & Trade Corridor Alliance.[lviii] 

It is evident that SPP and associated entities have influenced the private sector in the interest of P3s.  From the “Findings...” report: “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”[lix] (my emphasis). You might also be interested to know that McLarty is on the Board of Directors for Union Pacific Railroad, which stands to gain from the CANAMEX Corridor.[lx]  In addition, the North American Center for Trans-border Studies (NACTS) of Arizona State University that has done a lot of research on implementing CANAMEX,[lxi]  is a project of the Council of the Americas in addition to the North American SuperCorridor Coalition,[lxii] and has promoted[lxiii] and partnered[lxiv] with CANAMEX (and AMC[lxv]), and has multiple connections with SPP.[lxvi]  Further investigation would likely turn up more interesting connections with the CANAMEX agenda.

The Impacts (a Brief Summary)
Despite the fact that the Gila River Indian Community voted “No Build” on the freeway proposal (2012 and prior), some entities are still pushing for it.  “The on-reservation alignment will result in a loss of approximately 600 acres of tribal land, and the forced relocation of Akimel O’odham and Pee-Posh families. The off-reservation alignment would gouge a 40-story high, 200-yard wide cut into South Mountain, which is sacred to all O’odham and Pee-Posh.”[lxvii] According to the Gila River Against Loop 202 website, the main concerns are health, air quality, ground water, loss of land, and desecration of Muhadag Do’ag (aka South Mountain) and other sacred places.[lxviii]   Keep in mind that the Loop 202 is only a fraction of the infrastructural projects (roadways, pipelines, rail and more) in process and in planning stages. Other issues with freeways such as the South Mountain Freeway are contribution to urban heat island, noise and light pollution, and effects on local wildlife.  There are already major concerns about global warming and its impacts in Arizona.[lxix]  Aside from that, “Since the freeway-building boom in America after World War II, urban freeways have consistently proven themselves to be socially and economically harmful, as well as environmentally degrading. Urban freeways cut neighborhoods off from each other and block access to waterways and nature preserves; buildings around freeways quickly vacate and lose property value; and levels of coarse particulate matter... increase drastically, causing respiratory damage, heart attacks, and premature death, as well as environmental destruction such as soil nutrient depletion, farm crop damage, and loss of diversity in ecosystems.”[lxx]  


A report by the Center for Biological Diversity details the many potential and already existing problems due to trade corridors.  “Transportation-related greenhouse gas emissions account for 49 percent of the growth in total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions in the last 20 years, with freight trucks responsible for 19.1 percent of that growth. NAFTA-related truck transportation produces much of that air pollution. The byproducts from shipping trucks largely include nitrogen oxides, volatile organic compounds, and particulate matter, which contribute to ozone concentrations and air pollution and can lead to serious human health and environmental problems.”[lxxi]

While the Loop 202 extension would primarily affect Akimel O’odham and Pee-Posh in GRIC, simultaneously Tohono O’odham and other indigenous communities are impacted by increased border security on the border with Mexico.  Harassment and violence on the part of Border Patrol, damage to the surrounding environment, increasing surveillance and check-points are just a few of the problems[lxxii] which eclipse the minor damage of foot traffic and litter caused by migrants.  The effects of the drug trade and human smuggling are also as bad as they are primarily because they’ve been criminalized.  Additionally, much of the migration is a direct result of NAFTA.  In fact, Operation Gate-Keeper (1994), which sought to increase border security near San Diego, was initiated because officials knew NAFTA would lead to increased migration due to loss of jobs in Mexico.[lxxiii] This and similar border security measures created a funnel effect, pushing migrants to more dangerous terrain and through indigenous border communities.

The Tar Sands project in Alberta, Canada means massive detriment to the environment, health, and multiple indigenous communities.  We must consider the problems involved in the project itself and the surrounding geographical area, then the impacts of the pipelines, in addition to the impacts of our society’s dependence on oil. “Oil Sands projects are the fastest growing source of greenhouse gas pollution in Canada.”[lxxiv]  Additionally, “Oil sands extraction uses significant amounts of water (2-4.5 barrels per barrel of oil produced), which ends up in toxic tailings lagoons that have never been successfully reclaimed. An analysis using industry data estimated that these lagoons already leak over a billion gallons of contaminated water into the environment each year.”[lxxv] The traditional lands of indigenous communities of Alberta, Saskatchewan and the Northwest Territories are being destroyed for tar sands exploration and extraction.[lxxvi]  “A study by the Alberta Cancer Board confirmed that the people of Fort Chipewyan are experiencing higher than normal rates of cancer. Deformed fish, declining numbers of waterfowl and strange tasting water have added to the residents' concern.”[lxxvii]


There has been massive U.S. opposition to the Keystone XL Pipeline, including an action in September 2011, “A number of Native American and Native Canadian leaders were arrested for protesting the Keystone XL outside the White House. According to Debra White Plum, a Lakota activist, Indigenous peoples ‘... have thousands of ancient and historical cultural resources that would be destroyed across [their] treaty lands.’  They are also concerned about health and environmental issues.[lxxviii]  Several hundreds of people have been arrested protesting the pipeline.  Another primary concern of protesters is that, “A rupture in the Keystone XL pipeline could cause a BP style oil spill in America’s heartland, over the source of fresh drinking water for 2 million people. NASA’s top climate scientist says that fully developing the tar sands in Canada would mean ‘essentially game over’ for the climate.”[lxxix]

The economic relationship between the Tar Sands area, the U.S., and Mexico, in addition to international trade’s dependence on oil is what unites the CANAMEX Corridor and the Tar Sands.  It is one of several transportation corridors meant to fulfill goals set forth by NAFTA, joining together Canada, the U.S. and Mexico.  CANAMEX, and specifically the Sun Corridor are being promoted as a way to bring more economic prosperity to local regions.  However, even if the Sun Corridor will reach its expected population growth, it doesn’t mean the corridor will necessarily bring more jobs or even a demand for relatively more facilities.  What seems to be lost on many promoters of CANAMEX, or ignored, is that the conditions of NAFTA (and SPP) in terms of making money for big corporations, means that things will continue to get worse for workers.  It is readily acknowledged by Jim Kolbe that CANAMEX would facilitate trade with Asia.  We already know many U.S. workers who have lost their jobs to China, and even Mexico.[lxxx]  More Mexicans, many from indigenous communities, have lost their jobs or means of subsistence (i.e. land, which was privatized through NAFTA), and the jobs that are available pay very little. 

Root Force summarizes the situation this way, “By no coincidence, new infrastructure... is overwhelmingly slated for territories of indigenous or rural peoples. These territories hold two powerful attractions for modern colonialists, just as they always have.  First of all, Earth-based cultures tend to live in highly biodiverse areas, where there are still “resources” to be exploited (intact forests for lumber; intact land above oil or minerals; intact, undammed rivers). The second advantage is just as important: If members of traditional societies can be forced off their land by highways, dams or other such projects, they instantly become a cheap work force.”[lxxxi]

The Zapatista National Liberation Army (EZLN) took a dramatic stand against the imposition of NAFTA in 1994, for they knew that it would not bring prosperity to anyone but the rich.  From Loop 202 opposition, to Tar Sands protests, direct action against the Keystone XL Pipeline, and beyond, there is ongoing resistance.  Now that we have a better understanding of the forces behind CANAMEX, we are better equipped to continue the fight.

Join Us:

January 22, 2013, Tuesday, at ADOT
Meetings for CTOC will be held at the Arizona Department of Transportation, Auditorium, 206 South 17th Avenue, Phoenix, Arizona 85007, at  4:00 p.m., unless otherwise stated.
Advance notice will be given if schedule changes occur. Other meeting locations to be announced at a later date.
January 2013 Calendar of Maricopa Association of Governments meetings:
Transportation Policy Committee 1/23/2013 Meeting
Date: 1/23/2013 @ 12:00 PM
Location: Saguaro Room, 2nd Floor
Air Quality Technical Advisory Committee 1/24/2013 Meeting
Date: 1/24/2013 @ 1:30 PM
Location: Saguaro Room, 2nd Floor