If Cascadia Can, Why Not San Juana?

Can a citistate region take its border-crossing destiny into its own hands? A smart bunch of regional visionaries operating out of the Discovery Institute in Seattle believes so.

They’ve been focusing on the nearby U.S.-Canada border, which, like the San Diego-Tijuana crossing — must also cope with horrendous traffic delays. They argue that the corridor that joins “Cascadia,” the metropolitan strip from Vancouver through Seattle to Portland, has to be viewed over several decades and as a single zone — much like the watershed for a river system.

Ideally, national governments would recognize huge economic potential in development of such border areas. In fact, they rarely “get it.” So what the Discovery Institute’s saying, in effect, is: “Let’s invent what we need on our own. Let’s form a Cascadia Corridor Corporation of regional infrastructure banks that could mix and match public and private funds in the United States and Canada.”

One precedent, the Discovery Institute folks note, would be the issuance of tax-exempt bonds, on the model of the St. Lawrence Seaway. And there’s near opportunity, for regions that play their cards smartly, to get federal loan guarantees that could leverage their own borrowing power many times over.

The Seattleites would mesh new infrastructure investment with smart regionwide thinking. Examples: direct baggage-checking facilities at train stations for international flights originating at the Vancouver, Seattle or Portland aiports; collaboration between the airports and rail systems, sharply reducing the hundreds of commuter flights along the corridor; new train tracks to move containerized freight off the highways.

We think there’s not only an example but a warning to the San Diego-Tijuana citistate in this: Your competition is not standing still. You can’t afford continued paralysis. A joint San Diego-Baja California study mission to Seattle and Vancouver would be a first step.