May 1, 2007 4:20 PM, EDT

DOT Delays Mexican-Trucks Program

Will Take Public Comments for 30 Days

The Department of Transportation said it will delay its plan to allow Mexican trucks into the United States until U.S. trucks are allowed into Mexico, and that it will take public comments on the program this month.

Transportation Secretary Mary Peters said U.S. trucks will begin operating in Mexico at the same time that Mexican trucks begin operating north of the U.S. commercial border zone.

Previously, U.S. trucks were not scheduled to enter Mexico until six months after Mexican trucks were given U.S. access beyond the border zone, which is about 25 miles from the border.

Congressional pressure over the program helped spur the delay, the Associated Press reported. A Senate committee passed a measure in late March that would prevent Mexican trucking companies from gaining unrestricted access to U.S. highways until American truckers are granted the same access in Mexico. (Click here for previous coverage.)

DOT said its Inspector General’s office has certified that the program substantially meets eight criteria addressing inspector training, inspection facilities and the development of safety procedures.

DOT published details of the plan in Tuesday’s Federal Register and will take public comments for 30 days on the proposed program, which it unveiled in February. To view the notice, click here (4-page PDF file).

Last week, a coalition of groups including Public Citizen and the Teamsters Union sued the federal government over the program, claiming it had not received enough public scrutiny and would allow unsafe Mexican trucks onto U.S. highways.

(Click here for previous coverage.)/>