Barring delays from anticipated legal challenges, Mexican trucks will soon be allowed into the U.S. interior to haul goods from and then back to Mexico. However, Texas Transportation Institute (TTI) researchers who have worked along the Texas/Mexico border do not expect an inundation of Mexican trucks into the United States. “I was surprised to learn from an interviewing process that owners of Mexican long-haul trucking companies really don’t have much interest in sending their trucks long distances into the U.S.,” said Joe Zietsman, director of TTI’s Center for Air Quality Studies.
Zietsman and his team conducted studies for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), comparing emissions from Mexican trucks running on Mexican diesel, biodiesel and ultra low sulfur diesel (ULSD). “Owners of those Mexican trucks have several worries about doing business inside the U.S.,” Zietsman said. “They are concerned about losing their drivers to U.S. employers, higher insurance costs to operate in the U.S., potential inspection hassles, language barriers and service problems if their trucks break down so far from home.”
Once approved, 100 Mexican carriers will be allowed movement beyond a current 20 mile commercial zone north of the border. The provision was first proposed in the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).
“TTI has been analyzing ways of improving commercial vehicle crossing at the U.S./Mexico border for over a decade,” says Research Scientist Juan Villa. He says some of the Institute’s recommendations are being implemented or have been used to develop some of the security and safety programs at the border. “Some of the research projects include the development of a prototype border crossing facility for use at the Texas/Mexico border, a methodology assessing public benefits of deployed intelligent transportation systems, and a coordination system for border ports of entry for the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) and U.S.-Mexico Joint Working Committee.”
Meanwhile, TTI is currently testing technologies to measure commercial border crossing time and delays for a Federal Highway Administration project. “The current border crossing practice requiring all cross-border shipments to be hauled by three separate drivers is very inefficient and will be phased out over time,” Villa said.
TTI is also working with TxDOT to identify ways of integrating and consolidating border freight transportation data for planning applications.