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Caroline Mays

BROWNSVILLE, RGV – The Texas Department of Transportation developed a digital map to illustrate how the border region supports the United States in terms of trade.

Caroline Mays, director of Trade and International Trade with the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT), said to analyze the Texas-Mexico border crossings in the Brownsville region, 2,000 trucks with GPS were tracked over a seven day period. TxDOT also did this for Laredo, El Paso, the Port of Houston and Dallas. The combination of all the border crossings and ports were used to develop a digital map illustrating how far trade travels from the border region.

“We saw that a truck from Brownsville can end up in every single state in the United States, so that’s the impact of the Texas-Mexico border,” Mays said. “Laredo and El Paso also touches every single state in the United States and the Port of Houston touches every corner of the U.S. and into Canada.”

For the 2015 reporting year, $46 billion of trade flowed from the river onto the Valley bridges northbound and southbound, said Matt Ruszczak, executive director of the Rio South Texas Economic Council. The Valley and the border region as a whole is really a hub for trade for the entire nation, he said.

“[The digital map] is a great illustration of what we talk about on a daily basis about really showing how these routes are kind of like blood vessels that spread throughout the map and show you how the trade comes through–it is the lifeblood of the nation,” Ruszczak told the Rio Grande Guardian.

Melinda Rodriguez

The map shows the impact of trade and alliance with other countries. However, that is not the only benefit of the border crossings and ports. Melinda Rodriguez, vice president of the Division of Institutional Advancement and Workforce Training at Texas Southmost College, said that while the border crossings and ports are gateways to America, they are also the gateway to college.

“When we have increased economic development opportunities, there’s increased opportunity to do additional educational opportunities, workforce development training and continuing education in order to prepare a skilled workforce,” Rodriguez said. “When we’re able to see illustrations such as the [digital map], it allows us to really illustrate the impact and to speak to and plan strategically for the resources that are needed to facilitate it, maintain it and also expand it.”

Editor’s Note: Videojournalist Apolonio ‘Apol’ Sandoval, Jr., contributed to this story from Brownsville, Texas.