Saturday, September 30, 2006

What's Up With that Absent Exit and Idle Bridge?
Monday, September 25, 2006

by Ben Wear http://www.statesman.com/news/content/news/stories/local/
09/25/25wear.html


What's Up With That returns today after a lengthy vacation and fact-finding tour to the Bridge to Nowhere in Alaska, the Trans-Rhode Island Corridor toll road project and the Marfa light rail system.

If you don't recall, What's Up With That is a (very, very) occasional feature in Getting There where I attempt to satisfy your curiosity (or mine) about oddities or outrages on Central Texas roads. So, without further ado . . .

Q: I was headed southbound recently on that new highway section of U.S. 183 in Northeast Austin and I wanted to exit and then go east on U.S. 290 toward Elgin. To my shock, there was no exit, and I ended up having to making a U-ie at the next exit beyond 290. What's up with that?

A: Well, there is an exit, actually. But it's a full mile and a half back to the northwest, just past Interstate 35 and before you get to Cameron Road. Which means that to go from one major, newly refurbished highway to a major route to Houston, you have go through two or three stoplights.

If you know when to exit.

Bob Daigh, the Austin district engineer for the Texas Department of Transportation, points out that there are three signs back to the northwest on U.S. 183 telling you that there is a Cameron Road/U.S. 290 exit coming up. That's true, but when you're that far away from U.S. 290, you might not realize that's the only exit.

Daigh said there was room near U.S. 290 only for the entrance onto U.S. 183, not for an exit. He said a flyover bridge is planned for that left turn to U.S. 290 when the segment east of there is upgraded as a tollway. Pending resolution of the great toll road debate, that project could begin within a year. Or not.

Q: That upgrade of Texas 71 east of I-35 to Riverside Drive seems to be taking forever. And why hasn't that last flyover bridge from westbound 71 to northbound I-35 opened? It was finished more than a year ago.

A: The $53 million, 2.1-mile Texas 71 project now is predicted to finish around Christmas, after almost four years of construction. In that same time frame, the state will have built 40 miles of toll roads from scratch in North Austin and Williamson County. For something close to $2 billion.

As for that last flyover bridge, which has basically been a very tall piece of public art since the summer of 2005, it has been waiting on work to finish near Burleson Road. It will open when the Texas 71 project opens.

Q: Will motorcycles be allowed on the toll roads opening soon, and will they pay more or less than cars? And what about bicycles?

A: First on the bicycles: No, cyclists won't be allowed to ride on the toll roads.

As for motorcycles, because they typically have no windshield they will get special TxTags that can be affixed to nonmetallic surfaces like the front fender.

Unlike car/truck tags, which for now are being handed out free, motorcycle TxTags will cost a $20 tag deposit. That deposit will be refunded when the user closes the TxTag account. The toll charges for a motorcycle will be the same as for cars.

Getting There appears Mondays. For questions, tips or story ideas, contact Getting There at 445-3698 or bwear@statesman.com.

By Ben Wear

George Eliot GeorgeEliot2009@yahoo.com

Thursday, September 28, 2006

The Statesman finally ran Carol and Nina's guest editorial yesterday. Here's the link: http://www.statesman.com/opinion/content/editorial/stories/
09/25/25Cespedes_edit.html


COMMENTARY

Cespedes and Butts: Save Oak Hill from TxDot Superhighway


Carol Cespedes and Nina Butts, LOCAL CONTRIBUTORS

Monday, September 25, 2006

Springs, clear creeks, majestic live oaks. These are the pride of Austin. Those of us lucky and plucky enough to live here are nourished by Austin's natural setting.

Southwest of downtown Austin, Oak Hill is blessed with live oaks hundreds of years old. Oak Hill was named for these titans. Williamson Creek is a clear, spring-fed creek running through the heart of the community.

But the Texas Department of Transportation is revving up the chainsaws and bulldozers to destroy these invaluable natural features of Oak Hill. TxDOT plans to cut down the majestic live oaks, and put Williamson Creek into a ditch. If TxDOT gets its way, the Oak Hill Y at U.S. 290 and Texas 71 will look just like the superhighway mixmaster at U.S. 183 and Interstate 35.

Fix 290, a coalition of Oak Hill property owners, neighborhood associations, and environmentalists, has proposed an alternative to TxDOT's superhighway. Our concept is simple: a six-lane, mostly grade-level parkway that will move traffic safely and keep the majestic live oaks and Williamson Creek intact.

An independent transportation-engineering firm, Smart Mobility, analyzed the Fix 290 alternative and concluded that the "plan will provide the needed vehicular capacity to meet the CAMPO (Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization) 2030 daily traffic projections for this location. Further, this plan will result in many longer term benefits to the region."

A parkway can meet traffic needs without ruining Oak Hill. We believe that TxDOT's superhighway will be bad for business, bad for property values, bad for water and air quality, and just plain bad for Oak Hill.

Elevating U.S. 290 for two miles, as TxDOT plans, will damage the sense of community and spell doom for many small businesses. The elevated lanes will bring a permanent increase in noise and light pollution. The flyover intersection will overwhelm the commercial hub at the Oak Hill Y.

The road will take at least three years to build, snarling traffic and testing tempers. TxDOT's price tag, almost $200 million, will mean a sweet prize for the winning contractor. Highway contractors contribute lavishly to political campaigns in Texas, and only two Texas contractors, Cintra-Zachry and Williams Brothers, are big enough to take on the Oak Hill project.

Our parkway alternative is far less expensive than TxDOT's design and will take far less time to build. It also provides better access for local businesses and reduces the barrier imposed by the highway to a scale that can be easily spanned by pedestrian and bicycle bridges. With reduced asphalt and disturbance to Williamson Creek, the Fix 290 plan would provide improved water quality for the Edwards Aquifer and Barton Springs.

More than 1,700 citizens have signed our Fix 290 online petition. The Oak Hill Association of Neighborhoods endorsed our parkway plan in May. With the help of Sen. Gonzalo Barrientos, we presented our conceptual design to CAMPO in June, where it was well-received. We are now working for a directive from CAMPO to redesign the highway according to the parkway concept.

With the help of CAMPO, the creek and live oaks enjoyed by our ancestors will thrive for centuries to come.

Cespedes is president of South Windmill Run Neighborhood Association in Oak Hill. Butts teaches English at Austin Community College. Read the Smart Mobility report at Fix290.org.

http://www.statesman.com/opinion/content/editorial/stories/
09/25/25Cespedes_edit.html


George Eliot GeorgeEliot2009@yahoo.com

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Lawmakers: ‘Just say no’
By LAUREN HOUGH / Journal Staff Writer http://www.journal-news.net/News/articles.asp?articleID=3863


LEESBURG — After the frenzy of rush hour had ended, local lawmakers gathered Friday morning to send out impassioned cries on behalf of their commuting constituents.

The park and ride lot at the Dulles North Transit Center was transformed into a stage for a press conference, called by representatives of AAA Mid-Atlantic, to protest a proposed increase of nearly 100 percent in the tolls on the Dulles Greenway.

The 14-mile highway, also known as VA 267, runs from Leesburg to the Dulles Airport and is privately owned by the Toll Road Investors Partnership II, L.P. (TRIP II).

On July 19, TRIP II Chief Executive Officer Tom Sines filed a new toll schedule application with the State Corporation Commission (SCC), detailing plans to raise the $2.70 toll for 2-axle vehicles to a total charge of $4.80 in the next five years.

The now-contentious proposal is for an increase AAA Mid-Atlantic Public and Government Affairs director Mahlon “Lon” Anderson calls a “significant wrong.”

“(Motorists) will be charged nearly $10 a day to commute,” Anderson said. “It’s just too much.”

For Anderson and the four lawmakers, including U.S. Rep. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., who gathered on behalf of their constituents, the message was simple: Just don’t do it.

“It’s a bad deal for motorists,” Anderson said. “It’s not fair.”

If the proposed increases are accepted, the cost of using the highway will skyrocket to 34 cents per mile, making it the most expensive toll road not only in Virginia, but also in the entire United States.

Many in attendance at the press conference were directed to take the Greenway to the commuter lot, and, to their own chagrin, were charged the full $2.70 toll for riding just one short mile.

“From the beginning, this road was to be a public/private partnership. Today, there is no public in this partnership. This is a company bent on turning this road into a cash cow,” said U.S. Rep. Frank R. Wolf, R-Va.

Wolf said that the Macquerie Bank of Australia, which owns the road, made more than a billion dollars in revenue last year, according to their Web site.

“Many commuters who live in this area have no choice when it comes to how they get to work. They must rely on the Greenway.”

Wolf pointed to other toll roads throughout the country, such as the Pennsylvania and New Jersey Turnpikes, which charge anywhere from three cents to six cents per mile.

He calculated that the average commuter, who now pays $1,350 in tolls to travel to work 50 weeks a year, will spend $2,400 in 2012 just to travel on the Greenway.

Of the estimated 64,000 daily travelers on the highway, thousands are West Virginians on their way to work, Capito estimated.

“This is going to have a huge influence on their ability to get to work everyday,” the Congresswoman said.

Many of her constituents choose to live in West Virginia for the quality of life the state offers but keep their jobs in Washington, D.C., she said.

That choice, however, comes at a price, in the form of an increased length and time of their commute.

Raising the toll on such a frequently traveled road would create more of a burden on those residents, who use the highway not only for work, but also to get to the mall or the airport, Capito said.

It was e-mails sent from Eastern Panhandle commuters that first alerted the Congresswoman to the toll increase proposal, which she also opposed in a letter sent last week to the SCC.

“This is really a good example of why constituents want to make sure they make their voices heard,” Capito said.

It is also a cautionary tale for the state, which, in the midst of highway funding deficits, could look to charge residents tolls on certain roads.

“It’s looked to be a quick fix to get what you want,” Capito said. “Then you pay the consequences.”

Anderson said that toll roads, often public/private partnerships, are the straw that drowning governments reach for when they can’t find the funds to do what they need to do.

He urged concerned citizens to voice their opposition to the proposed toll increases to the SCC during the public comment period, which closes on Thursday.

The auto club has set up an online Legislative Action Center at http://capwiz.com/aaamidatlantic, where commuters can e-mail or mail their comments directly to the SCC.

“You’ve heard how much the corporation stands to make, and how much motorists stand to lose,” he said. “The message is simple: Say ‘no way’ to $10 a day.”



— Staff writer Lauren Hough can be reached at 263-8931, ext. 163, or at lhough@journal-news.net
Section: News Posted: 9/23/2006



George Eliot GeorgeEliot2009@yahoo.com

Monday, September 18, 2006

The Toll Road "Hustle" Continues...
Believe it or not, toll roads are here already!

By Peter Stern     http://pstern.statesmanblogs.com/

Even though most Texans don't want toll roads officials will open them in November. The temporary "free" [no tolls] promo is another con game so that once drivers use the new roads, they won't go back to using the old roads when the tolls become enforced.

"Free" toll roads bodes a good game plan for the November elections.

Supposedly voters won't get angry until the tolls are charged sometime after the elections.

While many Texans don't know the history of the extremist politics behind toll roads, they have "bought into" the misleading information provided by the governor's office and the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) --- that toll roads are the only and/or best way to build, operate and maintain Texas roadways and that the state hasn't the tax funds to finance new and/or to improve old roadways.

BTW, there is no proof whatsoever that the proposed toll roads will ease-up traffic, in fact, most toll roads cause additional problems.

In truth, toll roads are one of the LEAST cost-effective methods of collected taxes for building and maintaining roadways, whereby up to 50-percent of all tolls collected immediately go to the private company that manages the toll roads.

To get its contract with the state CINTRA, the Spanish world-wide toll maven, agreed to pay TxDOT (the state) $7.2 BILLION upfront for its 70-year toll road supremacy in Texas.

DOES ANYONE KNOW WHERE THAT UPFRONT MONEY IS GOING?

It's doubtful because TxDOT and CINTRA have filed a lawsuit against the Office of the Attorney General, who stated that CINTRA's contract should be open to the public under the laws of the Public Information Act. The lawsuit states that TxDOT wants to protect its client CINTRA under the Privacy Act, citing that other toll companies may gain an edge if the information becomes public.

If you believe that one, I have some ocean-front property in Central Texas I'll sell you at a fantastic price!

Believe whatever you want about the pending toll roads, but apparently toll roads have taken a life of their own when 90-percent of the public doesn't want them but officials are pushing them upon us anyway!

The only ones who truly benefit from toll roads are the governor's special interest campaign contributors and also legislators like Rep. Mike Krusee and his cohorts who already are getting something in return for their efforts!

We desperately need to vote-out Perry and special interest legislators in the next several elections!


By Peter Stern

George Eliot GeorgeEliot2009@yahoo.com
Toll roads to open Nov. 1
Perry aide denies that earlier debut before election is politically motivated

By Ben Wear
AMERICAN-STATESMAN STAFF
Saturday, September 16, 2006

Central Texas will join Dallas and Houston in the Texas toll road fraternity on Nov. 1, when all or parts of the area's first three turnpikes will open to traffic, state officials confirmed this week. With no tolls, temporarily.

To meet that earlier date — officials in June had predicted a December opening of about 40 miles of tollways — the Texas Department of Transportation will initially bring down the barricades on just 26.3 miles of Texas 130, Texas 45 North and an extension of MoPac Boulevard (Loop 1). The other 13.8 miles of Texas 130 previously announced as part of this tollway premiere, from near Hutto to Interstate 35 north of Georgetown (and perhaps more of Texas 45 North, west of Loop 1), likely will open in early December.

Starting Nov. 1, cars will pass through the toll booths on 26.3 miles of MoPac Boulevard (Loop 1), above, along with Texas 130 and Texas 45 North. For two months, the toll roads will be free.

Even in its incomplete form, what the state calls the Central Texas Turnpike Project will offer an alternative expressway to I-35 via Texas 45 North and Loop 1 for people going to and from Round Rock, as well as a partial eastern bypass of Northeast Austin on Texas 130. The speed limit on all three roads will be 70 mph.

All the roads will be free for the first two months. This is a common promotional practice for toll roads, allowing drivers to sample the road at no cost and, toll agencies hope, engendering some good will for the paying days to come.

In early January, cash customers will begin paying tolls of about 15 cents a mile. But people with an electronic toll tag (called a TxTag by the agency) on their windshields and an account on file with the Transportation Department will get yet another month of free service. And in February, TxTag users will pay only half price. In March, the promotions end.

Those extra financial breaks for people with TxTags are an effort to get more people to sign up and use them, turnpike director Phillip Russell said this week. Toll transactions with tags (an overhead reader detects the passing tag and triggers a debit to the tag owner's transportation account) cost the agency much less than dealing with cash and having to hire people to staff toll booths, officials say. Having fewer people swerving and jerking to a stop for toll booths causes less congestion and fewer accidents, they say.

And toll tags, like credit cards, have the additional advantage — from the seller's point of view — of making toll payments an invisible and seemingly painless purchase.



Officials expect to cut the ribbon after rush hour on that Wednesday morning of Nov. 1 where the new Texas 45 North tollway meets the new Texas 130 turnpike in a tangle of flyover bridges. The early opening — and free service — will come just six days before toll road advocate Gov. Rick Perry stands for re-election, timing that at least one of Perry's opposing campaigns found more than suspect.

"Clearly this is being directed by the governor's campaign," said Mark Sanders, spokesman for Texas Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn, running as an independent for governor. "What the governor is doing is pushing the collection of tolls just past the November election because he knows it's going to cost him votes and probably the election."

Perry spokeswoman Kathy Walt, asked about the opening switch, said she hadn't even heard it was occurring in November rather than December. Perry, at least as of Thursday, didn't have the ribbon-cutting on his schedule, she said.

"He did not ask them to open it early," Walt said. "Obviously the governor's been interested in making sure that TxDOT moves projects along as quickly as possible to address traffic congestion. But TxDOT makes the decisions when segments of roads are opened all the time."

Transportation Department officials, meanwhile, said the change in plans has nothing to do with politics. Instead, they said, money — specifically the $2.3 billion the agency acquired through a 2002 bond sale and is using (along with $1.2 billion of local and state tax dollars) to build the three roads — offers plenty of incentive to open the road and begin bringing in revenue as soon as possible. Since 2003, the agency, using some of the money it borrowed, has been paying between $74 million and $86 million a year in debt payments.

Revenue isn't predicted to top the $86 million figure until 2011, when operating and maintenance expenses will have kicked in as well Unless traffic and revenue exceed projections, the system won't operate in the black for many years.

Debt payments will increase over the next 36 years to almost $500 million a year, according to documents from the 2002 bond sale.

"You've borrowed money, and that interest clock is ticking," Russell said. "You want a toll road to open as soon as possible. It may not be perfect, but it will be safe."

Safe, perhaps, but far from complete.

Russell said landscaping and other finishing touches will continue for months on the sections opening in November and December. But more important, Texas 130 will open without completion of a flyover bridge that will allow unobstructed left turns for people traveling from U.S. 290 eastbound to Texas 130 northbound. Drivers, until that bridge is complete early next year, will make those turns using a more traditional ground-bound interchange of frontage roads and stop lights.

And the incomplete sections of Texas 130 south of U.S. 290 (it will extend another 20 miles to Mustang Ridge by the end of 2007) and, at least briefly, north of U.S. 79 mean continuing construction and obstruction in those areas. Aside from the ongoing work on Texas 130 by contractor Lone Star Infrastructure, the state has other companies at work on Texas 45 North from west of Loop 1 to U.S. 183 at Lakeline Mall.

And the Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority has yet another contractor building a fourth toll road, U.S. 183-A, that will run north for more than four miles from Texas 45 North to Cedar Park. The mobility authority is also building seven more miles of free frontage roads, extending north from the end of the U.S. 183-A toll road and running beyond Leander. Years from now, when traffic merits it, toll express lanes will be built in the middle of those frontage roads to extend the turnpike.

In all, there should be about 70 miles of operating toll roads in Central Texas by the end of next year.

All of them will have both electronic toll gantries and cash toll booths. Customers with toll tags will be able to drive at full highway speed under those gantries and go through toll stations on entrance and exit ramps without pausing. Cash customers will give money to toll collectors or, in some cases, toss correct change into a basket.

Drivers using cash will pay 75 cents at the single mainlane plaza on Loop 1 and another 75 cents on Texas 45 North, and on many ramps will pay another 50 cents to enter or exit the tollway. On Texas 130, the single main lane toll plaza in the section opening Nov. 1 will carry a cash charge of $1.50, and the charge on certain ramps will likewise be 50 cents.

In all cases, customers with toll tags will pay 10 percent less.

By Ben Wear
bwear@statesman.com; 445-3698

George Eliot GeorgeEliot2009@yahoo.com

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

THE NEW WORLD DISORDER

Kansas City customs port considered Mexican soil?

WND investigation finds new evidence U.S. facility to be on foreign territory

Posted: July 5, 2006
1:00 a.m. Eastern

By Jerome R. Corsi
© 2006 WorldNetDaily.com

A Mexican customs facility planned for Kansas City's inland port may have to be considered the sovereign soil of Mexico as part of an effort to lure officials in that country into cooperating with the Missouri development project.

Despite adamant denials by Kansas City Area Development Council officials, WND has obtained e-mails and other documents from top executives with the KCSmartPort project that suggest such a facility would by necessity be considered Mexican territory – despite its presence in the heartland of the U.S.

The documents were obtained with the assistance of Joyce Mucci, the founder of the Mid-America Immigration Reform Coalition, under the provisions of the Missouri Sunshine Law from the City of Kansas City, Mo., and from the Missouri Department of Economic Development.

The documents reveal a two-year campaign initiated in 2004 and managed by top SmartPort officials to win Mexico's agreement to establish the Mexican customs facility within the Kansas City "inland port." Kansas City SmartPort launched a concerted effort to advance the idea, holding numerous meetings with Mexican government officials in Mexico and in Washington to push the Mexican port idea in concert. The effort involved Missouri elected officials, including members of the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate.

The documents make clear that Mexico demanded Kansas City pay all costs.
To date, the Kansas City Council has voted a $2.5 million loan to KC SmartPort to build the Mexican customs facility in the West Bottoms near Kemper Arena on city-owned land east of Liberty Street and mostly south of Interstate 670.

"Kansas City, Mo., is leasing the site to Kansas City SmartPort," Tasha Hammes of the development council wrote to WND last month. "It will NOT be leased to any Mexican government agency or to be sovereign territory of Mexico."

Yet, an e-mail written June 21, 2004, by Chris Gutierrez, the president of the KC SmartPort, stated that the Mexican customs office space "would need to be designated as Mexican sovereign territory and meet certain requirements."

Even more recently, an e-mail dated March 10 of this year was sent by Gutierrez to a long list of recipients that left no doubt that KC SmartPort has not yet received federal government approval to move forward with the Mexican customs facility. Gutierrez informed the e-mail recipients that the processing a critical form, designated "C-175," needs approval by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection before the form is passed to the State Department for final approval. The processing and approval of the C-175 application is holding up the final approval of the Mexican customs facility.

In the same memo, Gutierrez reported on a recent meeting in Washington: "Both sides (U.S. and Mexican officials) met several weeks ago and the 'document' or as the U.S. refers to it the 'C-175' is near completion. This document is the basis for the procedural, regulatory, jurisdictional, etc. for the project. It defines what will happen and how and what laws, etc. allow this to happen. Both sides have put a lot of effort into this document."

Gutierrez appeared concerned that the intensive lobbying done by KC SmartPort could be a wasted effort if the final U.S. government approvals were not completed before Mexico elected a new president this week.

"The process for the document is for U.S. Customs to present the document to the acting Commissioner and officials with the Dept of Homeland Security," he wrote. "This will happen in March. The document will then be reviewed by the U.S. State Dept who has been consulted on the document all along so they are aware of it. State will make the recommendation on the diplomatic status of the Mexican officials and the documents fit with existing agreements, accords or treaties. Mexico will wait for this recommendation and then get the sign off of their Foreign Ministry (Secretary [Luis Ernesto] Derbez and Under Secretary [Geronimo] Gutierrez are well versed on the project and support it). The hope of both sides is that this will be completed before the Mexican presidential elections in July."

Gutierrez's March 10 e-mail ended by expressing a hope that discussion of the Mexican customs facility issue could be kept from the public, obviously concerned that press scrutiny might end up producing an adverse public reaction that could destroy the project. Gutierrez specifically proposes a low-profile strategy designed to keep the KC SmartPort and the Mexican customs facility out of public view.

"The one negative that was conveyed to us was the problems and pressure the media attention has created for both sides," he wrote. "They want us to stop promoting the facility to the press. We let them know that we have never issued a proactive press release on this and that the media attention started when Commissioner (Robert) Bonner was in KC and met with Rick Alm. The official direction moving forward is that we can respond to the media with a standard response that I will send out on Monday and refer all other inquiries to U.S. Customs. I will get the name from them to refer media calls."

Robert C. Bonner is the commissioner of CBP within the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Rick Alm is a reporter for the Kansas City Star.

On May 16, Bonner addressed the Chamber of Commerce in Kansas City, saying the Mexican customs facility idea "could be enormously important to Kansas City and the surrounding area, and would – or should – facilitate trade for U.S. exporters by expediting the border clearance process for U.S. goods and products exported to Mexico." Bonner added that "If the Kansas City SmartPort is implemented, Kansas City could become a major new trade link between the U.S. and Mexico."

Among those copied on Gutierrez's e-mail of March 10, 2006, was George D. Blackwood, the president of NASCO (North America's Super Corridor Coalition, Inc.). Blackwood is an attorney with Blackwood, Langworthy & Tyson in Kansas City. He also served as the former chairman of the North American International Trade Corridor Partnership, which he helped found in 1998 when he was serving as mayor pro tem of Kansas City. NASCO supports the Kansas City SmartPort's initiative to establish a Mexican customs facility as part of the NASCO SuperCorridor project.

By Jerome R. Corsi

http://pstern.statesmanblogs.com/

George Eliot GeorgeEliot2009@yahoo.com
Here is a confirming piece of information that was sent to me by one of my contacts. Some of the information was originally published in a Spanish-language newspaper, Rumbo, and again on the web sites below by Mike Blair, the American Free Press. Before you dismiss this as just another conspiracy theory out there, here is a link where ol' George first heard about these plans:

http://www.dot.state.tx.us/ttf

Chinese Regime Eyes Texas Port Facilities

by Mike Blair / American Free Press | August 7 2006


http://www.prisonplanet.com/articles/August2006/070806Facilities.htm


The Chinese are eyeing facilities in Texas to further their economic invasion of the United States.

Negotiations are under way for communist Beijing to utilize as a “logistics hub” the former Kelly Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas, which was closed in 1995 during the Clinton administration’s base reduction program.

If the deal is consummated the Chinese will also gain access to two major Texas ports at Corpus Christi and Houston on the Texas coast of the Gulf of Mexico, an 11,000-foot-long airstrip, which is part of the Kelly base facilities, rail links with railcar switching facilities and links with five interstate highways. The Chinese are keenly interested in the deal because the San Antonio base will help facilitate its trade with Mexico.

San Antonio will give China access to a highway corridor along I-35, linking San Antonio to Nuevo Laredo, Mexico, which is just across the border from Laredo in west Texas.

Nuevo Laredo is a major staging ground for Mexican drug cartels, which have fostered an atmosphere of lawlessness in the city. Almost daily people, including police, are shot in the streets. In addition, frequent clashes occur between drug smugglers and U.S. Border Patrol and state and local police on the U.S. side of the border in Laredo.

There have also been reports that Chinese military units have been operating with Mexican army troops, who assist the drug smugglers and have made incursions into the United States.

“San Antonio is a strategic site for commerce between China and the United States and for the exportation of Chinese products to Mexico and Latin America,” Zhou Ming, general director of the Chinese State Agency of Promotions and Chinese Investments, said after a Chinese delegation visited San Antonio last year, according to a report in the Spanish-language newspaper Rumbo, which reports on activities in Mexico and U.S. border states.

Like most Chinese industrial, investment and commerce kingpins, Ming has ties to the People’s Liberation Army, which controls most industry in China with much of the profits going to build up the Chinese military.

Considerable slave labor is used, making it impossible for U.S. workers to compete.
A year ago, San Antonio Mayor Phil Hardberger and other municipal officials traveled to China to promote the former air base facilities, now renamed the San Antonio Port Authority.

The mayor’s office is working with the Port Authority, the Free Trade Alliance San Antonio and the San Antonio based Omega Group International, which maintains offices in Austin, Texas, San Francisco, Mexico City and Beijing and Qingdao, China.

According to Rumbo, Omega International sponsored visits by Chinese officials last year to San Antonio. J.J. Saulino, press secretary to Hardberger, told AFP that the mayor is interested in the project and traveled to Guangdong province in China to promote it.

Jorge Canavati, vice president of the San Antonio Port Authority, claimed the Rumbo article was “not accurate” and abrasively brushed off questions about the effort to get the Chinese into the former U.S. air base facilities.

The former air base, often referred to as a “dry port” or an “inland port,” because it is not a coastal facility or located on a navigable waterway, “has no limits for the products, from toys to heavy equipment [from China],” Vivian Lee, president of the Omega Group, was quoted by Rumbo as saying.

AFP was told by Rogello Garcia, a spokesman for the Free Trade Alliance San Antonio, that a Chinese delegation was in San Antonio last spring to further work out details of the project.

Kelly Air Force Base was opened in 1916 as a training facility. Nearby Lackland Air Force Base was a spin-off from Kelly. The Texas Air National Guard 149th Fighter Wing still utilizes the facility, along with the Air Force Reserve 433rd Airlift Wing.

A spokesperson with the Port Authority told AFP that the base has been used to repair and maintain C-5A Galaxy transport planes, which are the largest aircraft in the Air Force. The base has an 11,000-foot runway to accommodate the C-5A, which the military shares with the Port Authority.

In addition to the airstrip, the Port Authority has a 1,200-acre yard operated by the Union Pacific Railroad. The Burlington Northern-Santa Fe Railroad is also linked to the inland port.

A retired Air Force intelligence officer told AFP that taking over the San Antonio base would likely streamline Chinese exports to the United States and would give them access to ports in Houston and Corpus Christi on the Gulf coast.

The Chinese already control the Panama Canal, through the Hutchison-Whampoa Company, and maintain a major airfield and port facility at Freeport, Bahamas, where Hutchison-Whampoa has a contract through the Bush administration to provide security for container ships bound for U.S. ports on the East Coast.

Chinese state-owned shipping company Cosco has taken over port facilities and warehousing space at the California ports of Los Angeles, San Francisco and Long Beach. This is one of the reasons cited for China’s interest in the San Antonio inland port, as it has extensive space available for constructing warehouse buildings. According to Port Authority sources, a 108,800-square-foot warehouse facility has already been built at the former base at a cost of $5 million and a slightly smaller 102,400-squarefoot building has also been built.

by Mike Blair 8-07-2006

George Eliot GeorgeEliot2009@yahoo.com

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Subj:Transportation Secretary Nominee is a Toll Proponent
Date:9/6/06 1:08:55 PM Central Daylight Time


The following column appears today on the Citizens for a Better Waller County website www.wallercountycitizens.org. It is written by Alice Sorsby McGuffie

Permission to duplicate granted
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ALICE'S VIEW
September 6, 2006


On Tuesday, September 5, 2006 President Bush indicated he would nominate Mary Peters to be the next transportation secretary. Ms. Peters has been a vocal advocate for toll roads, for privatizing our highway system, and for the Trans Texas Corridor.

Ms. Peters is currently the Sr. Vice President of HDR, Inc., an engineering firm that is currently doing work on the Trans Texas Corridor-35 project. She is a member of an advisory board for the Reason Foundation, a think tank that has actively supported the Trans Texas Corridor concept.

Ms. Peters was also very recently the Federal Highway Administrator and in that role helped push through federal legislation (SAFETEA-LU) that allows public highways to be turned over to private companies.

On March 11, 2005 Mary Peters joined Gov. Rick Perry and Ric Williamson, chairman of the Texas Transportation Commission for the contract signing between TxDOT and the private consortium, Cintra-Zachry, to develop the first leg of the Trans Texas Corridor, TTC-35.

"We are experiencing increasing congestion on our nation's highways, railways, airports and seaports," Mary Peters has said. "... we're robbing our nation of productivity and our citizens of quality time with their families." "Public-private partnerships in transportation hold great promise in cutting the congestion that's choking our economy and keeping families apart from one another."

Interesting words Ms. Peters uses "robbing our nation of productivity and our citizens of quality... choking our economy and keeping families apart from one another." It is the very cure she proposes for traffic congestion, Public Private Parnerships, that will be doing the robbing, choking, and keeping families apart.

Mary Peters faces Senate confirmation before she can step into the role of Transportation Secretary.

Texas Senator, Kay Bailey Hutchison, serves on the Senate COMMITTEE ON COMMERCE, SCIENCE, AND TRANSPORTATION. Senator Hutchison can and should oppose the confirmation of Mary Peters. Senator Hutchison can be contacted at

http://www.senate.gov/~hutchison/e-mail.htm
WASHINGTON OFFICE
284 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510-4304
202-224-5922
202-224-0776 (FAX)
202-224-5903 (TDD)

TEXAS OFFICES
Austin http://www.senate.gov/cgi-bin/exitmsg?url=http://www.ci.austin.tx.us/
961 Federal Building
300 East 8th Street
Austin, Texas 78701
512-916-5834
512-916-5839 (FAX)

By Alice Sorsby McGuffie

You have permission to duplicate this article.


Follow-up to the last article.

Bush's new Transportation Secretary and the Trans Texas Corridor
By Wayne Madsen
Friday, September 8, 2006
From http://www.WayneMadsenReports.com/


In Mexico they call it Plan Puebla Panama.

Sept. 8/9/10, 2006 -- George W. Bush's pick for Transportation Secretary represents a major conflict-of-interest designed to spur the construction of the Trans-Texas Corridor -- a project in which Bush and his cronies are heavily invested. Last week, Bush nominated Mary Peters to replace Norman Mineta as Secretary of Transportation. Unlike Mineta, a former congressman who then became a Vice President fo the aerospace defense giant Lockheed Martin, Peters comes out of the surface transportation industry. She is a vice president for the engineering firm HDR and co-vice chairman of the National Surface Transportation Policy and Revenue Study Commission. From 2001 to 2005, Peters was the head of the Federal Highway Administration. Peters is also a former head of the Arizona Department of Transportation. Peters worked in the administration of disgraced GOP Governor Fife Symington, who was convicted of bank fraud and resigned from office. (Symington was later pardoned by his college friend, President Bill Clinton). Peters' commitment to major "infrastructure development" of the nation's highways centers on the development of the North American SuperCorridor (NASCO) highway, of which the Tran-Texas Corridor will be a major component. Already, Bush crime syndicate cronies, including interests tied to Texas Governor Rick Perry, are purchasing property along the proposed Texas highway route at cut-rate prices, using "eminent domain" statutes to pay less than what private and commercial property is worth. The money for the massive land grab is coming from Saudi and Chinese sources, according to knowledgeable sources in Texas. The NASCO highway will cross 11 states: Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Missouri, Iowa, South Dakota, North Dakota, Minnesota, Michigan, Indiana and Illinois. It will also connect proposed Mexican super ports in Manzanillo, Mazatlan, and Lazaro Cardenas to various United States trucking and distribution super-hubs in San Antonio, Dallas, Kansas City, as well as one in Winnipeg in Canada. The Mexican ports will be receiving points for manufactured products from China. The theft of the Mexican presidency by conservative Felipe Calderon at the expense of populist leader Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador was engineered to protect the sizeable investments the Bush crime cartel, including The Carlyle Group, and their Saudi and Chinese financiers have already sunk into the project.


New Transportation Secretary Mary Peters to ensure Bush crime family super-highway projects proceed unimpeded.


Eventually, NASCO will be expanded as far south as Argentina by linking North America to Central America (Mexico-Central American Corridor and an improved Pan American Highway). The expensive tolls charged throughout the 10-lane super-highway system will be used to line the pockets of the Bush family well into the middle of the 21st century. Peters, as a highway and trucking industry shill, has been entrusted by the Bush crime cartel to ensure that the plans for NASCO and the Pan American Super Corridor proceed unimpeded. It is estimated that as many as 1 million Texans alone, many in rural and poor urban areas, could be displaced by the Trans-Texas Corridor.


Mary Peters at Transportation: Major responsibility is to ensure roadblocks to North American SuperCorridor are eliminated.


By Wayne Madsen

George Eliot GeorgeEliot2009@yahoo.com

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

The Toll Roads Boondoggle
By Lillian Simmons

Boondoggle Presentation (3.42 MB) By Lillian Simmons
Warning: This is a fairly sizeable Powerpoint Presentation file, so those with slower connections or those without Powerpoint may want to skip this one.

Those who don't have Powerpoint, and who don't mind another large download (93 MB) can get OpenOffice.org from http://download.openoffice.org/2.0.3/index.html.
Its a nice little productivity suite (in the vein of Microsoft Office) that can read most office document formats, including Powerpoint presentations. Best of all, its free!

George Eliot GeorgeEliot2009@yahoo.com

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Protest of the Gov. Perry- DoubleTax Toll -- Hwy. 121, Dallas, Ft. Worth
Pictures & Video clips!

By Linda Curtis


Tuesday, August 29, 2006----Today's Protest in Coppell, Texas at Perry's Celebration of the Tolling of Hwy. 121 -- the first freeway toll conversion in the state under HB 3588, the same legislation that created the Trans-Texas Corridor.



Check out these short news video clips in DFW, Channel 5: http://www.nbc5i.com/news/9754839/detail.html
Here's a video clip from Channel 11. Watch TxDOT boss, Rick Williamson, squirm: http://cbs11tv.com/consumer/local_story_241165325.html
Dear All:

We had some fun this morning in Coppell, Texas, protesting Rick Perry's "celebration" of the first freeway-toll conversion, Hwy. 121. Except -- wait a second -- late yesterday, TxDOT announced that the 121 tolling would be delayed to sometime in November (after the election)! But then...wait another second, Ric Williamson (TxDOT Boss) today at the "celebration" said, 'we might not toll until January', citing the need to "test their equipment". Does he mean their toll equipment, or their voting machines??? Hah!

IF YOU LIVE IN THE DFW area join us and Carole Keeton Strayhorn this Thursday in Lewisville for a press conference with Stop121Tolls.com founder (and Indy Texans), Randy Jennings. They will be telling you the truth - we know you CAN handle it -- about Perry's new genre of "double-tax" toll roads -- he and his highway robbin' contributors want to put tolls on roads we've already paid for through the gas tax! Go to Stop121Tolls.com for details.

We are identifying precinct, city and state organizers for the Strayhorn campaign between now and election day.

If everyone does something -- and we're counting on thousands of people across the state-- we will dump this Governor, his Corridor and his double-taxing, double-dealing ways. Then, together with Carole, Texans will have a fighting
chance to take back Texas!

Reply to this email and let us know we can count on you! Then, we'll give you a call, or feel free to call us.

Independently yours,

Linda Curtis, founder
Independent Texans

http://indytexans.org
PO Box 14294
Austin, TX 78761
512-535-0989 Austin
817-921-2417 DFW

Save These Dates:

Sept. 30, Saturday, (times to be announced soon) Hands Across the Corridor, coming to your community.

Friday, Oct. 6, at 7 pm, first televised gubernatorial debate, Channels to be
announced. Plan to watch with friends & family.
_______________________________________________
indy-discussion mailing list
indy-discussion@lists.independenttexans.com
by L. J. Curtis


TEXAS INSIDER
Perry: SH 121 Bypass Is Landmark in Texas Transportation
http://www.texasinsider.org/scoop/Scoop_GovPerry-08-30-06-SH121IsLandmarkInTXTrans.htm

COPPELL – Gov. Rick Perry today dedicated the opening of State Highway 121 Bypass, calling it a landmark in the history of Texas transportation.

“It is the first road to be completed as a project stemming from legislation passed in 2003 that has allowed Texas to develop new and better ways to pay for highway construction,” Perry said. “And State Highway 121 will be the Texas Department of Transportation’s first all-electronic toll road, with no toll booths to slow traffic down or contribute to accidents and no hassle of digging around for spare change.”

Although the bypass, also known as the Golden Corridor, was built as a toll road, motorists will continue to be allowed to drive on the road at no charge throughout the fall as TxDOT tests the new electronic toll-tag readers.

“This announcement means that drivers will not only have a few extra months to enjoy a toll-quality road without the cost, they will also have more time to get an electronic TxTag sticker, which gives drivers a 10 percent discount on the Golden Corridor and every other toll road in Texas,” Perry said.

Motorists who use the North Texas Tollway Authority’s TollTag or the Harris
County Toll Road Authority’s EZ TAG won’t need a new sticker. And those who would rather pay per trip will still be able to drive on State Highway 121, thanks to new technology that will allow them to get a bill by mail, although the cost will be a little more.

“By leveraging the latest technology and the resources of the private sector, SH 121 will provide North Texans a route that is faster, safer and more efficient – as well as funding for additional road improvements in this part of the state,” Perry said.

Toll revenue from the 121 Bypass will help provide the $200 million it will cost to widen I-35 East through Denton County, the $80 million reconstruction project of FM 423, and many other projects that will help get traffic moving in North Texas.

By the Texas Insider
http://www.texasinsider.org/scoop/Scoop_GovPerry-08-30-06-SH121IsLandmarkInTXTrans.htm

Carole Keeton Strayhorn & friends working to stop Rick Perry's double-tax tolling of Highway 121 in the DFW area.




Randy Jennings, Stop121Tolls.com

Thanks so much for coming, y'all. Hope to see you at meetings happening in your area (check the indytexans.org events calendar) and be sure to SAVE THIS DATE -- Saturday, September 30th for Hands Across the Corridor, coming to your local county courthouse. Stay tuned for details!

Wanna help? Reply to this email or give us a call at 512-535-0989.

George Eliot GeorgeEliot2009@yahoo.com