Good morning everyone. I am Texas Secretary of State Ruth Hughs and I am so honored to be participating today in this important meeting. Thank you for giving me this opportunity to make some introductory remarks. 

I mostly want to thank Chairman Bugg and the Commissioners, New, Ryan, and Vaughn. It is such a pleasure this morning to get to hear all of your remarks leading up to this agenda item. Just to further verify how committed you are to the important issues that impact our state. I really appreciate your service to the State of Texas and your continued support of the Border Trade Advisory Committee, or BTAC, and its work in the development go the Texas-Mexico Border Transportation Master Plan. 

I also want to recognize our partnership with TxDOT and thank Executive Director Bass, Deputy Executive Director Marc Williams, and of course the director of the Freight Trade and Connectivity Section before you today, Caroline Mays, who has been a pleasure to work with, as well as her team, for their tireless efforts and the tremendous collaboration throughout this process. 

I want to take a moment of personal privilege to also recognize my team, particularly David Zapata, for all their work and commitment and attention to this plan throughout these years. Again, thanks to the partnerships, particularly with your team. Our BTAC meetings were kept timely and orderly and in spite of the many logistical challenges that were presented by the pandemic I am particularly proud of how the master plan progressed at the necessary pace that was needed to allow us to present a final master plan to you all today, in spite of the many challenges we faced in 2020. 

And of course today would not be possible without the contribution of our BTAC members. Commissioner New, I know you referenced them, and Commissioner Ryan, you have all seen how engaged they are. I am very grateful for their participation. They represent our Texas-Mexico border area and they have brought to this discussion very unique perspectives and expertise as we seek to address the needs of our border communities. Chairman Bugg, you were referring to rural communities earlier. Many of these border communities are also rural communities. I appreciate the support they are getting. 

Last December, alongside Caroline Mays I had the pleasure to present to this commission an executive summary of the border master plan as developed by BTAC. I enjoyed sharing that information with you and I am thankful for the feedback and the recommendations. 

Since then, the plan has received public comments and we have gathered additional feedback at several regional stakeholder meetings, as well as our most recent BTAC meeting that we held earlier this month, so we could review all of this with BTAC. Caroline and her team has taken note of this feedback and the new recommendations provided during these recent meetings. And they have incorporated those edits in the final version of the border master plan presented to you. 

The committee believes this final version of the plan outlines policy, programs, and project recommendations that facilitate the continued efficient and safe movement of people and goods through Texas’ 28 border crossings and the multi-modal transportation system. The plan also lays out a framework for implementing the recommendations that will support the continued economic competitiveness of the border region and the state of Texas. 

This border master plan is the culmination of years of hard work and it represents the collaborative efforts of countless stakeholders from the U.S., Texas, and Mexico who have contributed their expertise and commitments. It will be an invaluable resource for cross-border stakeholders so they can effectively demonstrate the area’s infrastructure needs and challenges and appropriately convey the urgency of allocating the necessary funding for these projects that will benefit not only our border areas but also all of North America. 

On behalf of BTAC and as the chair I am pleased to submit the final version of the border master plan to the commission for its adoption and full implementation. I respectfully request your support in voting for its approval and for your continued support of BTAC as we pursue and coordinate the plan’s implementation. I look forward to continued collaboration between TxDOT and BTAC as we work towards an even brighter future for Texas and for all on both sides of the border. Thank you for your time today.

Editor’s Note: The above commentary was made by Texas Secretary of State Ruth Hughs (pictured above) at a recent meeting of the Texas Transportation Commission in support of the Texas-Mexico Border Transportation Master Plan. Hughs is Gov. Greg Abbott’s liaison for Texas Border and Mexican Affairs and chairs the Border Trade Advisory Committee. Created in 2001 by the 77th Legislature, BTAC provides a forum for the exchange of communications between the Texas Transportation Commission, TxDOT, the governor and committee members representing border trade interests. The TTC adopted the Texas-Mexico Border Transportation Master Plan at its March 2021 meeting. 

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