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March 8, 2007 4:00 PM, EST

DOT: Border Plan to Involve Fewer Than 1,000 Mexican Trucks

Big Trucking Firms Supportive; ATA, Teamsters Cite Concerns
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Transportation Secretary Mary Peters told a congressional panel Thursday that DOT expects the pilot program involving allowing trucks from Mexico to U.S. roads will involve fewer than 1,000 trucks.“These companies will be limited to transporting international freight and will not be authorized to make domestic deliveries between U.S. cities,” Peters said in a statement before the Senate Appropriations Committee’s transportation subcommittee.Several big U.S. trucking companies, meanwhile, said they supported the plan, Bloomberg reported. Con-way Inc. and other large truckers support opening the border to Mexican trucks to help speed trade and save money, James Worthington, president of Con-way Freight-Southern, told the panel.American Trucking Associations said when the plan was unveiled late last month that it supported the pilot plan.But in a meeting at ATA headquarters on Wednesday, ATA President Bill Graves told Mexico’s Undersecretary for Transportation Manuel Rodriguez that ATA “insists that Mexican trucking companies compete with U.S. trucking companies on a level playing field,” the trucking group said.Graves said Mexican companies must meet all of the same U.S. regulations that American trucking companies must comply with in the areas of highway safety, occupational safety, the environment, insurance, taxes, fees, and finance.Teamsters President James Hoffa, meanwhile, told the subcommittee that the union opposes the decision to open the border and would “allow unsafe Mexican trucks to operate throughout the United States.“The Bush administration is playing Russian roulette with highway safety and national security,” Hoffa said. “The resources do not exist to carry out an aggressive oversight and enforcement program.”(Click here for previous coverage.)