From the Office of State Senator Eddie Lucio, Jr., District 27
For Immediate Release
Monday, March 5, 2001
Contact: Doris Sanchez
Senate approves Sen. Lucio's SCR 25 asking the U.S. President and Congress for $11 billion in funding for NAFTA-related road funding
AUSTIN, TX--Today the Texas Senate voted 28 to zero (with two members excused from voting) for Senate Concurrent Resolution 25 authored by state Sen. Eddie Lucio, Jr. D-Brownsville, asking the U.S. Congress and President that they earmark $11 billion for critical NAFTA-related planning, capacity and right-of-way acquisition needs and construction of one-stop federal and state inspection facilities that would be open 24 hours per day along the Texas Border region.
Lt. Gov. Bill Ratliff, the Senate President, makes up the thirty-first Senator but he does not vote on legislation.
"Since the current administration in Washington has said that it will allow Mexican trucks at least partial access to our highways beyond the commercial border zone that was established in 1993, I feel that the congestion along the Border, along with the wear-and-tear on our Border roads will worsen," said Sen. Lucio. "We need funding to streamline truck inspections, as well as to improve and maintain our current road system."
Texas Border crossings account for 80 percent of the U.S.-Mexico truck traffic, but the state is awarded only 15 percent of the federal funds allocated for trade corridors. Additionally, all research indicates that Texas has received considerably less than its fair share of discretionary funds allocated by the federal government. Texas receives only 49 cents on the dollar in federal highway discretionary program funds even though it is the second largest state.
Sen. Lucio is concerned that opening the Texas Border to Mexican trucks will unfairly impact the three border transportation districts in Pharr, Laredo and El Paso. Studies indicate that heavy truck traffic is expected to increase by 85 percent during the next three decades and severely degrade existing roads and bridges. Road impact for each fully loaded 18-wheel truck equals that of 9,600 cars.
"Our Border points of entry have all become choke points because of the volume of traffic, which often involves lines of trucks extending up to several miles during peak periods while they wait for inspections," added Sen. Lucio. "In the last decade, northbound truck crossings increased by 215.8 percent while southbound truck crossings from Texas to Mexico increased by 278.1 percent to 2.1 billion crossings."
SCR 25 funding requests include the following:
- $3 billion for the construction of one-stop federal and state inspection facilities that are open 24 hours per day along the Texas Border region and for infrastructure improvements and construction projects at border points of entry
- $4 billion for critical NAFTA-related planning, capacity and right-of-way acquisition needs
- $3 billion for immediate construction, maintenance and planning needs for rural roadways that are impacted by NAFTA-related traffic, as well as those of emerging NAFTA-related corridors
- $1 billion for law enforcement needed to prepare for the influx of Mexican trucks with access to travel throughout the Border and beyond.
SCR 25 will be referred to a committee in the House of Representatives and then the full House must vote on it.
NOTE: Director of Legislation and of the Subcommittee on Border Affairs, Mr. Daniel Esparza, is handling SB 517 and SCR 25.