North American supply chains are highly integrated with plants, warehouses, distribution centers and suppliers of parts and materials interspersed along both sides of the border. Eighty-four percent of this trade is moved by land and the majority moves through a select number of key border crossings.

The ability to move people and goods across the border efficiently is critical to maintaining the tight schedules required for the movement of finished products and raw goods that are part of “just-in-time” supply chains. Efficient movement of passengers is also important, facilitating the tourism, employment, business and personal travel that links Texas and Mexico.

The Texas border region is a world leader in international trade and enjoys a growing population. Texas has 29 Ports of Entry (POEs) of which thirteen process commercial trucks in addition to, or instead of, privately owned vehicles.

Across all Texas border crossings, truck traffic has increased by 21.9 percent since 2009. Rail is also a significant part of the border transportation picture, with 85.3 percent of all of the trains that entered the U.S. from Mexico in 2013 crossing into Texas. In 2014, over $246 billion worth of goods and 3.7 million trucks crossed the Texas-Mexico border.

A key emerging international cargo corridor is the $2.2 billion Mazatlan-Matamoros Corridor that will cut travel times between Mazatlan and the Rio Grande Valley by six or more hours and reduce transportation costs by between $500 and $1,500 per truck. The new corridor serves Mexican Pacific coast marine ports and Mexican domestic fruit and vegetable producers. The corridor has helped Texas surpass Arizona as the nation’s main entry point for agricultural products.

In the most recent surface transportation legislation enacted by Congress and President Barack Obama, TBC supported several provisions to direct more federal transportation funds to the border region.

The Coordinated Border Infrastructure Reserve Fund gives border states like Texas the option to reserve up to five percent of statewide Surface Transportation Funds for qualified border infrastructure purposes, providing funding certainty and allowing stakeholders and border communities to advocate for border infrastructure.

New funding for border region freight projects and the designation of Ports of Entry as key freight arteries has already resulted in additional border infrastructure funding.

The Texas Department of Transportation has identified 139 border projects – with a total estimated cost of more than $4 billion– that would enhance international border coordination strategies to improve freight transportation safety, mobility and efficiency, facilitate trade and travel, and enhance security.

TBC supports additional funding for transportation infrastructure that will enable a free flow of legitimate trade and travel in border trade corridors and energy zones throughout the region, including:

  • Infrastructure upgrades to reduce wait times and facilitate legitimate trade and travel at border crossings; appropriate oversize/overweight vehicle permitting in border trade corridors;
  • Additional rail connections between Texas and Mexico;
  • Equitable financing methods for road repairs; and
  • Engagement with USDOT, TxDOT and regional transportation authorities on behalf of regional priority transportation projects.

Editor’s Note: The above essay is the third in a four-part series focusing on a new 20-page policy paper issued by the Texas Border Coalition. It is titled, “Policies and Proposals by the Texas Border Coalition to Advance a North American Century.” Part Three focuses on Transportation (above) and Border Security. Click here to read the Border Security essay.

The Rio Grande Guardian has been granted exclusive rights to first publish the policy paper. Click here to read Part One, titled “Texas Border Coalition: How North America can command the 21st Century.” Click here to read Part Two, titled “Texas Border Coalition: A North American Agenda.” We will publish TBC’s Health, Workforce Training & Public Education, and Economic Development essays in our Sunday PM edition.