& still more on NAFTA Hiway

I’ve noticed a recent upsurge in visitors to my NAFTA Highway posts so it must be time to add some new information to the growing body. The following piece seems to have taken a while to get out. It’s a very interesting piece. I’ll leave it to Canadian lawyers to let me know if anything like eminent domain exists in Canada.

Firm Will Use Eminent Domain To Grab Land For NAFTA Super Highway

Posted On: Sun, 2006-08-27 01:29 by MichaelVail

Posted: Aug 26, 2006

CIOB International Construction ReviewBut a corridor of this overall width – maybe as much as 360 m – has alarmed people who stand forced to surrender property in land and buildings to the project. This concern has been sharpened by the disclosure that, citing a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling, the developers intend to exercise the principle of ‘eminent domain‘ in land acquisition proceedings on the grounds that they are acting as agents of a public authority.

The developers apparently believe that such rights, once established in Texas, could then be applied across the entire 6,500 km length of the NAFTA highway. Whether that proves to be so depends on the outcome of any challenge that might be launched against such a claim.

The Cintra-Zachry partnership is however in a strong position because they have already secured an agreement granting them the right to develop the new highway in Texas. They have also put money down for the privilege.

The first concession within the Trans-Texas Corridor has already been awarded to Cintra. According to a statement by parent company Ferrovial, construction is expected to start early in 2007 once environmental and other permits have been obtained. …

Cintra’s partner for the five-year road building programme is the San Antonio-based contractor Zachry Construction Corp, but Ferrovial’s construction company Agroman is getting a share in the business.

Zachry joined with Cintra in a scheme to provide private investment worth $6 billion. The assignment is to design, build and operate a four-lane toll road covering the 500 km distance between Dallas and San Antonio, bypassing the State capital at Austin.

For this concession Cintra is paying the State of Texas $1.2 billion. It gives them the right to build and operate this initial segment of the intended Trans-Texas Corridor.

This would be part of the ‘super-highway’ spanning the United States from the Mexican border at Laredo, making its way through Texas, Kansas and Oklahoma and connecting with the Canadian highway system north of Duluth, Minnesota.

Because it would provide a connection all the way between Canada and Mexico, the project is also described as the North American Free Trade Area (NAFTA) super highway.

Cintra has also recently taken over management of the Indiana Toll Road (ITR) after paying $3.8 billion to the State’s finance authority for the transfer of the asset. In a 50:50 consortium with the Australian bank Macquarie, Cintra now has charge of this 250 km highway which links Chicago with the eastern seaboard of the United States.

The concession will run over 75 years.

The company commented: “The project reinforces Cintra’s presence in the U.S., a strategic market for the company: it has a 99-year concession to operate the Chicago Skyway ($1.83 billion) which links with the Indiana Toll Road, and it is a strategic partner of the State of Texas for 50 years to develop the Trans-Texas Corridor, one of the most ambitious infrastructure projects ever undertaken in the United States.”

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One thought on “& still more on NAFTA Hiway

  1. Based on an exceedingly quick look, expropriation is equally available to (and used by) most Canadian governmental authorities, though the “eminent domain” terminology isn’t used – see for example Saskatchewan’s Expropriation Procedures Act. Some rights are available to the person whose property is affected (the authority is required to try to negotiate for the land before expropriating, and the owner can challenge both the need for the expropriation and the compensation offered), but ultimately the process seems to be a similar one.

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