February 23, 2007 4:30 PM, EST

DOT to Allow Mexican Trucks Access to U.S. Highways

Pilot Program Calls for ‘Tough’ Inspection Program
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EL PASO, Texas — The United States will grant Mexican trucks access to U.S. highways under a pilot program, Transportation Secretary Mary Peters announced here today.Peters said the program would be “a limited year-long demonstration program that will permit up to 100 Mexican trucking companies to make deliveries beyond the commercial zone” near the border.Under the program, “an equal number of U.S. trucking companies will be able to cross the border and compete in the Mexican market place for the first time ever,” Peters said.“In 1995, we let fear trump common sense along the nation’s southern border when we put the trucking provision of the North American Free Trade Agreement on hold,” the secretary said in a written statement.“I am here today to right a 12 year-old wrong,” she added.Carriers wishing to enter the United States from Mexico will be subjected to a “tough” inspection program, including examinations of both truck and drivers, Peters said.DOT announced the inspection agreement on Thursday. (Click here for related coverage.)Peters said the first Mexican trucks will begin to travel beyond the border zone “in about 60 days.”American Trucking Associations said it supported the pilot plan. “Regulation of Mexican carriers operating in the United States will ensure a level playing field in cross-border operations,” said ATA spokesman Clayton Boyce.Peters was joined in making the announcement by Luis Tellez, Mexico’s secretary of communications and transportation, and by U.S. officials Michael Jackson and David Sampson, deputy secretaries of homeland security and commerce, respectively.