As the California Trucking Assn. and CRASH joined in an unlikely alliance to oppose the opening of California to Mexican trucks, U.S. Transportation Secretary Rodney Slater wrapped up a transportation tour with a message that the Clinton administration is committed to assuring the safety of Mexican vehicles operating in the United States.
Saturday, Slater toured U.S.-Mexican border facilities at the Pharr (TX) Bridge and met with Rep. Ruben Hinojosa of Texas, Mexican officials, local and regional officials from Texas and industry representatives.
"Safety is President Clinton's highest transportation priority," Slater said. "We are working with the government of Mexico and officials in Texas, both to assure that Mexican vehicles can operate safely, and that U.S. border inspection facilities are ready to handle the increase in truck traffic."
Slater added that he hoped that the United States could address these safety and infrastructure issues in the not-too-distant future.
Meanwhile, the CTA (the country's largest state trucking association) and Citizens for Reliable and Safe Highways (an anti-truck group) have sent a joint resolution to California Gov. Gray Davis. The resolution requests "that the state of California does not open the border to increased truck traffic from Mexico, thereby jeopardizing the lives of California motorists, until … crucial concerns … are completely resolved."
The letter points out Mexico allows substantially different truck weights and hours-of-service regulations. It also refers to a recent investigation by the U.S. DOT inspector general that found federal and state inspectors in border states put 44% of 17,332 trucks from Mexico out of service in 1997.
CRASH and CTA say these things must be addressed before the border is opened next year under the North American Free Trade Agreement.
The letter was signed by Michael Scippa, CRASH executive director, and Joel Anderson, CTA executive vice president.