Nye County commissioners Tuesday passed a resolution endorsing the Interstate 11 project up Highway 95, from Las Vegas to Reno, as part of a new highway corridor from Mexico to Canada.
A pair of citizens objected, suggesting the corridor would further economic globalization.
The resolution states the I-11 project would connect the two major urban population centers in Nevada, tie defense facilities like Nellis Air Force Base and Fallon Naval Air Station, promote new infrastructure for warehousing and manufacturing and improve highway safety.
The project would include an electric vehicle charging network for tourists, connect airport facilities for the unmanned aerial vehicle industry, as well as facilitate improvements to feeder highways like Highway 6 in Tonopah.
The resolution adds, “it facilitates a Pahrump Valley bypass from Ivanpah to Lathrop Wells that would enhance economic development in the Pahrump Valley and reduce congestion and divert through-going hazardous material traffic from the north-south I-15/I-11 traffic from the Las Vegas Valley.”
“The presence of a robust transportation corridor that enhances connectivity regionally, nationally and internationally would enable development of a fully integrated transportation and supply chain management system to enhance cost-efficient movement of goods and personnel within the State of Nevada and to develop manufacturing, warehousing and market penetration for the sale of those goods,” the resolution states.
A letter to the Nevada Department of Transportation from Commissioner Butch Borasky states 200 miles of the corridor will be in Nye County. He pointed to a 2007 study that concluded a north-south rail and highway corridor between Las Vegas and Reno could provide annual public and private sector benefits ranging from $401 million to $2.3 billion for Nevada. The I-11 study should include as many inter-modal components as possible, the county said, like natural gas and oil pipelines, electric transmission and a water pipeline.
“We specifically suggest a Las Vegas bypass from I-15 at the California/Nevada border north to U.S. 95 in the Lathrop Wells, Amargosa Valley area. Such a route would reduce I-15 traffic in the Las Vegas Valley and enhance the flow of commerce to and through the Pahrump and Sandy valleys,” Borasky’s letter states.
Completion of I-11 from Phoenix to Las Vegas would complete the third leg of the Las Vegas-Los Angeles-Phoenix “golden triangle,” the county’s letter states, providing enhanced access to the gaming industry of Southern Nevada and improve the flow of commerce to the southwestern U.S.
But Borasky said he received a bunch of emails from the same source that “if we vote on this we’re traitors and we’re going to open up the door for illegal aliens and a gamut of other statements made.”
“It would open up a benefit to Pahrump and it would also bring in possibly a corridor that some day could involve natural gas and other things,” Borasky said.
Wichman said as a member of a trucking family for three generations she could vouch for all the benefits Interstate 80 did for the U.S. She made the motion to approve the letters before discussion began and said she received the same emails, which raised the recent immigration influx from Central America.
“I thought the concern was over opening an interstate freeway when we have 6-year-olds and 4-year-olds making it across the border. I don’t think they’re concerned with us having a freeway or not,” Wichman said.
Herman Lewis, who protested NAFTA, said the corridor would encourage globalization, which he said is taking away American sovereignty. He said county commissioners may not be able to stop the freeway but asked if they wanted to see their children living in a de-industrialized America.
“Do you not see what is happening to America with the evaporation of our southern border?” Lewis asked.
Wichman said Lewis was raising a philosophical argument, they weren’t talking about the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). She said Nye County doesn’t touch the Mexican border, they were only concerned about Las Vegas to Reno.
“The corridor, all part of NAFTA takes away our sovereignty; it also brings in the ships from China to Mexico,” Lewis said. “Do you want America to lose its sovereignty?”
“I wanted to make sure as patriots with a pioneer spirit we’re not afraid to say no to the federal government when they take over and overwhelm us and I see this freeway as part of the overwhelming by the federal government,” he said.
“Are you questioning my ability to stand up to the federal government after everything I’ve done as a county commissioner?” Wichman asked.
Tina Trenner said she’s studied globalization and its effects since 1986.
“The border is crumbling and not by mistake. If we think it’s crumbling by mistake you certainly need to start studying what’s really going on. The arteries that will come up out of Mexico to the United States and Canada have been planned for a long time,” Trenner said. “It is part of a world plan to start moving goods, people, contraband through our nation from one place to another.”
She said China has a lease on every port on the west coast of Mexico that will be unloaded and driven into our country.
“I am not safe any more nor are you. We are losing the sovereignty of this nation,” Trenner said.
Commissioner Frank Carbone said people may not realize this is part of NAFTA. Carbone said he knows people who lost their jobs due to trucking coming out of Mexico.
Commissioner Dan Schinhofen objected to statements in a letter read into the record by Commissioner Donna Cox that said, “any one of you that may consider voting for (the) resolution are either willfully ignorant of this push for a North American Union or just plain traitors to American sovereignty.”
“I’m neither willfully ignorant nor am I a traitor,” Schinhofen said. The alternative would be doing nothing on a project that materially affects the county, he said.
The letter Cox read was written by Kenny Bent. It said half of the population of the world lives on $2 per day. He questioned how globalization would bring prosperity. “Merging with Mexico will not bring prosperity. It will only eliminate what little is left,” he wrote.