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Culture Change print magazine issues: 20  19  18  17  16  15  14  13  12  11  10  9  8  index

Pedal Power solutions to petroleum dependence and polluting vehicles: Arcata Library Bikes, Pedal Power Produce, and more!

CAOE - Committee Against Oil Exploration - stop offshore oil drilling to protect sensitive habitats and cut petroleum dependence.

Culture Change through music! The Depavers eco-rock!

Take our Pledge for Climate Protection and learn about the Global Warming Crisis Council.

SEI hometown action!
Arcata city council's proclamation against war on Iraq and Kyoto Protocol proclamation.

Overpopulation has become a reality.  Overpopulation Resources and News Tidbits

Sail Transport Network

Fact Sheets
Press Releases

Long Distance


NAFTA Superhighway I-73 Gains Steam
Family Farms Will Be Paved Over

by Mark Petersen

The Myth of the Interstate, the notion that prosperity is inseparably tied to major highways, is again threatening to cause serious problems in the hills of southwestern Virginia.  What began in 1993 as a proposal for routing the I-73 along existing I-77 has steadily grown into a new-terrain highway proposal snaking its way from Bluefield, West Virginia southeast via Roanoke to the North Carolina state line.  By the end of 1995 Congress had expanded the project tenfold, transforming it into a "High Priority" transcontinental proposal.  Canadian corporations, hoping to take advantage of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), are backing the road to encourage transnational ground transport trade to Southern port cities.  The balance of evidence amply indicates that rail would be a much more energy-efficient and less destructive alternative to either new highways or widenings.

The proposal now calls for the construction of the highway north of Detroit, Michigan to Charleston, South Carolina.  Following the funding flowing from TEA 21óthe billion-dollar highway pork package approved by Congress in AprilóNorth Carolina and West Virginia have already commenced construction.

Interstate 73 is a farm killer in West Virginia as elsewhere, encouraging unrestrained suburban sprawl for Bedford, Botetourt, Roanoke, Franklin and Henry Counties. Most of the route would involve paving through undeveloped rural areas.  Hundreds of family farms would be split, creating hardship for families dependent on the land for their survival.

Area residents hold that reasonable alternatives to the new terrain options have not been fairly considered. The Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) is for a Roanoke-Martinsville highway only, yet in reality this project would run from Charleston to Detroit. Currently, VDoT consultants have divided I-73 into two segments for study and evaluation. Cost estimates for the Roanoke to Martinsville segments vary. Policy makers will not have a concrete estimate until a route is chosen, field studies are conducted, right-of-way and mitigation expenses considered.

Citing continued national highway and sprawl patterns, the American Farmland Trust lists the Upper Piedmont region as one of the top 10 endangered regions in America. This nation's transportation policiesópackaged as "progress" by those invested in the "growth" of petroleum extraction and roadbuildingówill only spell disaster for Virginians in the years to come when world oil supplies dwindle.  As one citizen asked at a VDoT  hearing, " Why would we want to implement a transportation network that has only proven to be outdated and costly in other metropolitan regions?"

State representatives cite safety concerns and congestion along the 220 corridor as justification for a new terrain interstate highway.  Every major road project since the 1950s has promised traffic relief, yet the opposite has generally resulted: as developments spring up along new roads, the traffic they bring congest roads even worse than they were before.  todayís open highways become tomorrow's traffic nightmares. As VDoT prepares to spend additional millions for their final study and subsequent Environmental Impact Statement, citizens now have the opportunity to demand fair representation as well as accountability. Ever-rising taxes, endless traffic jams, and no relief for the already dirty skies would indicate that government is beholden to highway interests.  Is this the golden future you want for your community? Will developers get away with it?  They have a dazzling arsenal of weapons:  money, lobbyists, teams of lawyers, public relations people and connections high and low.  But their number-one weapon has been the simple one:  PUBLIC APATHY.  Now is the time to act while the process is open to you.

Community opposition has successfully stopped highway projects elsewhere. Perhaps something can be learned from those examples. 

For more information, contact Mark Petersen @ (540) 362-7141 PO Box 5272, Roanoke, VA  24012.


Articles of interest:
Measuring and controlling the actions of governments 

Anti-globalization protest grows, with tangible results. 
WTO protests page

Tax fossil-fuel energy easily
by Peter Salonius 

UK leader calls War on Terror "bogus"

Argentina bleeds toward healing by Raul Riutor

The oil industry has plans for you: blow-back by Jan Lundberg

It's not a war for oil? by Adam Khan

How to create a pedestrian mall by Michelle Wallar

The Cuban bike revolution

How GM destroyed the U.S. rail system excerpts from the film "Taken for a Ride".

"Iraqi oil not enough for US: Last days of America?"

Depaving the world by Richard Register

Roadkill: Driving animals to their graves by Mark Matthew Braunstein

The Hydrogen fuel cell technofix: Spencer Abraham's hydrogen dream.


Ancient Forest Protection in Northern California. Forest defenders climb trees to save them.

Daniel Quinn's thoughts on this website.

A case study in unsustainable development is the ongoing crisis in Palestine and Israel.

Renewable and alternative energy information.

Conserving energy at home (Calif. Title 24)

Culture Change mailing address: P.O. Box 3387 , Santa Cruz , California 95063 USA
  Telephone 1-215-243-3144 (and fax)

Culture Change was founded by Sustainable Energy Institute (formerly Fossil Fuels Policy Action), a nonprofit organization.