SuperCorridors

Canada, the US and Mexico have signed NAFTA agreements for a series of infrastructural or multi-modal Super-Corridors as part of the slightly ominous-sounding "Security and Prosperity Partnership" (SPP). Supported by a coalition of political and corporate leaders, the intention of the network is to develop, over-time, a European-style Economic Union.

Maps and plans have already been initiated for the first of the super-corridors. Known as the Trans-Texas Corridor, the TTC is a superhighway system, four football-fields-wide, including tollways for passenger vehicles and trucks; lanes for commercial and freight trucks; tracks for commuter rail and high-speed freight rail; depots for all rail lines; pipelines for oil, water, and natural gas; and electrical towers and cabling for communication and telephone lines.

The corridors are tied into a North American Inland Port Network (NAIPN), that are “sites located away from traditional land, air and coastal borders with the vision to facilitate and process international trade through strategic investment in multi-modal transportation infrastructure and by promoting value-added services as goods move through the supply chain."

One of the striking features of the proposed Super Highway and the Inland Port network is the proposed shift in borders. In the service of efficiency, trucks entering the US from Canada or Mexico would not be vetted at the border, but at an inland port hub. A joint U.S.-Mexico Customs facility called SmartPort is already under construction in Kansas City, Missouri, allowing Mexican trucks to enter the US on FAST lanes and be scanned by SENTRI technology, only officially crossing the border in Kansas.

In a nation obsessed with border security, the proposal raises interesting questions regarding control and access to these super-corridors. Politicians in the US are up-in arms, arguing that the corridor is a threat to security and national sovereignty, bringing in illegal goods and immigrants. One imagines an Orwellian system of surveillance, and electronic checks and balances behind the scenes.

Environmentalist, meanwhile, are sounding alarms, over the environmental impact of the corridors: the potential of a smog-filled highway, contaminating air and water and displacing ecosystems. Even more concerning is the presence of the water pipelines, which imply water is a commodity under NAFTA, rather than an essential need and public trust. There is ongoing political debate, in water-rich nations such as Canada, on limiting or extending bulk export of national water and its implications both on sovereignty, and regional ecologies.

The network reminds one of the radical urbanism of the 1960's. Superstudio's Continuous Monument, a gridded superstructure that would wrap around the world, eventually, covering the entire surface of the planet, leaving a physically and culturally frictionless suburban matrix. In this case, the supercorridors would shuttle goods, oil, gas, electricity, and people, in a futuristic hyper-network.

Watch for a Corridor coming to a neighborhood near you....

With a nod to Pruned's post.

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