Border program lives on

A highly controversial crossborder trucking demonstration project, which allows up to 100 Mexican carriers to operate beyond the U.S. border commercial zones and up to 100 U.S. carriers to operate throughout Mexico, has been extended for two years to the maximum three years allowed by statute as a pilot program. The project was initially set to expire on Sept. 6. U.S. Secretary of Transportation Mary

A highly controversial crossborder trucking demonstration project, which allows up to 100 Mexican carriers to operate beyond the U.S. border commercial zones and up to 100 U.S. carriers to operate throughout Mexico, has been extended for two years to the maximum three years allowed by statute as a pilot program. The project was initially set to expire on Sept. 6.

U.S. Secretary of Transportation Mary Peters and Mexico Secretary of Communications and Transportation Luis Tellez Kuenzler initially agreed to the project in February 2007. It was enacted that September.

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Assn. (OOIDA) filed a lawsuit against the program the day after it was implemented, and said after the ruling that the program does not comply with U.S. safety and security laws and regulations.

“The Dept. of Transportation has consistently bent over backwards to force this program on the public,” said OOIDA executive vp Todd Spencer. “They seem oblivious to the inherent safety and security risks of what they are trying to do.”

Congressman Jim Oberstar (D-MN), chairman of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, said in a statement that the crossborder program was allowed to continue “despite strong, bipartisan objections.”

“Now, just days after the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure approved a bipartisan bill to hold the DOT to its original plan and terminate this pilot program after one year, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration announces its intent to extend this program for two more years,” Oberstar said. “When Congress reconvenes in September, I intend to have the full House of Representatives approve our bill as quickly as possible and make certain that the voice of Congress is heard loud and clear at the Dept. of Transportation — and that this program is finally shut down.”

According to Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administrator John H. Hill, a number of potential carriers would not invest the time and resources (including obtaining insurance necessary to operate in the U.S.) needed to participate as they were unsure of the project's longevity. At the present time, only 27 Mexican carriers with 107 trucks are operating in the U.S., and 10 U.S. carriers with 55 trucks are operating in Mexico.

DOT reported that since 1982, trucks from Mexico have been able to drive in a 25-mi. commercial zone along the U.S. border, but cargo destined beyond that point must be off-loaded and transferred. According to DOT, transferring products from the truck of one country to that of the other costs consumers $400 million each year.

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