OPENING the southern United States border to Mexican truck traffic is growing closer, according to Joseph Clapp, Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) administrator.
Ten border crossings are slated for weigh-in-motion scales, he said. Three are in operation: Otay Mesa CA, Nogales AZ, and El Paso TX, and two more are scheduled to be in place at Pharr TX and Eagle Pass TX by April 1, 2002. Five more should be on line by December 2002. About $2.3 million has been allocated for federal facilities construction.
In addition to federal action, the border states are hiring, training, and equipping additional border inspectors through the use of federal funds. About $66 million is being provided for state inspection facilities this year, and President Bush has requested an additional $47 million for 2003. The 2003 budget proposal also requests $18 million for grants to states to maintain inspection operations and $8 million to support state enforcement personnel at the border.
Access will be granted to Mexican carriers that are in compliance with congressionally-mandated Department of Transportation rules.
“Under these rules, a Mexican carrier applying for provisional authority to operate beyond the existing commercial zone will undergo a safety audit prior to receiving that authority,” Clapp said February 22, 2002, in remarks at the National Press Club, Washington DC. “After passing the audit during the subsequent 18 months, the carriers will be monitored through roadside inspections of their vehicles and drivers.”
FMCSA is in the process of hiring and training 214 new employees to inspect vehicles and drivers and conduct the safety audit and compliance reviews. Facilities, hardware, and software also are being made available to support the new staff.