As the former executive director of North America's Super Corridor Coalition (NASCO), I want to provide a much more accurate description of Interstate 35 and North America's Super Corridor Coalition (NASCO) compared to statements made during a recent congressional campaign news conference. ("Proposed NAFTA superhighway a threat to Kansans :," Journal-World, Aug. 12)
First, there is no NASCO plan to build a "10-lane superhighway" through Kansas or the rest of the Midwest. There is no "conspiracy" to grab Kansans' property to provide the right of way for such a project. NASCO is a small, non-profit 501(c) (6) organization with members in Mexico, Canada and the United States.
The state of Texas is working on plans for a Trans-Texas Corridor that would parallel I-35, but anyone who has tried to drive in Austin, Dallas and Fort Worth knows why Texans are considering this mega-project: It's called total traffic congestion. There are simply too many vehicles on outdated highway facilities.
It slows not only commercial traffic and hurts "just in time" delivery, which is critical in our economy, but it's also unsafe for the traveling public and our environment. Just think of all those vehicles idling and spewing pollutants when a 20-minute trip becomes a two-hour odyssey. And while we are seeing this happen now in Texas, you better believe that eventually it will also happen in Kansas City and Wichita.
Second, NASCO or any other public/private organization has no power to decide what transportation improvements are funded. Those decisions are made by the respective state departments of transportation, and are funded in large part by the federal government. If you ask department of transportation leaders in Kansas or other states along the I-35 corridor, you will find that states are having a hard enough time paying for maintenance of their highway systems. Kansas is not a member of NASCO; I know this because I tried to get the state to join in 2002, and was politely told no.
Third, consider the sources on the Internet that started this rumor of a "North American Union" and the gradual disintegration of U.S. national independence. "WorldNet Daily" and "Amerikan Expose" aren't exactly the Wall Street Journal and Newsweek. Conspiracy theorists need to have their so-called proof examined thoroughly before their assertions are accepted as truth.
Groups like NASCO are looking for innovative ways to enhance economic development through transportation improvements, technological advancements and perhaps most importantly, international understanding and cooperation.