Finding Money for the NAFTA Highway
The tribulations of funding the Canada-to-Mexico superhighway are front and center in Texas and Indiana. Governors in both states are looking to private partners and tolls.
In Texas, the Trans-Texas Corridor 69 project has long been on the federal government's high-priority list, but the state has lost hope that funding will be forthcoming anytime soon. Given that circumstance, Governor Rick Perry and the Texas Transportation Commission want private companies to work with the state to build the high-speed corridor. State officials see private investors as a means of bringing new ideas and options to the table and "putting projects on the ground sooner," says Gabriela Garcia, with the Texas Department of Transportation. Even if the project is privately funded, she adds, the highway will remain state-owned.
Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels has proposed that the $2 billion Indiana portion of I-69 be funded through a combination of transportation money from a high-profile contract and tolls. The state's $3.85 billion deal to lease the Indiana Toll Road to Macquarie-Cintra, an Australian-Spanish consortium, will provide the state with enough money to fund a host of transportation projects. The governor is asking for $700 million of that deal's funds to be earmarked for the NAFTA superhighway. The Indiana Department of Transportation plans to raise the other $1.3 billion through public- private partnerships, which means putting in tolls so that the companies that spend money on road building can recover their investment. The legislature has given the go-ahead for feasibility studies about making portions of the I-69 corridor in the Hoosier State a toll road.
Currently, I-69 starts along the Canadian border at Port Huron, Michigan, and runs south to Indianapolis.