The Teamsters union said it has heard from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration that the agency's pilot program for long-distance trucking across the Mexican border will be cleared to begin on Saturday,
according to a wire service report.
The agency would not confirm or deny the union's claim. A spokesperson said: "We are working closely with the (Department of Transportation's) Inspector General as his office completes an additional assessment of the program and we prepare a detailed response to that report. Congress has required that both of these steps be completed before the agency moves forward with the cross border trucking demonstration project."
The pilot project, which would allow as many as 100 selected Mexican carriers to provide long-distance trucking into the U.S. for one year, and give reciprocal access to U.S. carriers, must be approved by the DOT Inspector General before it can begin.
The Inspector General has completed one audit, finding that while the agency has made progress in its border safety program, it still needs to improve the quality of the data it uses to monitor the performance of Mexican drivers. The IG said the agency has proposed fixes to that problem.
But the Inspector General still must complete another audit ordered by Congress before the project can begin. A Teamster spokesperson, Leslie Miller, said FMCSA officials advised union attorneys that the audit will be completed Friday, according to a wire service report.
Meanwhile, the Teamsters and four other opponents of the border opening sued to stop the pilot plan. The plea for an emergency injunction, filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in San Francisco, contends that the pilot program does not meet standards passed by Congress last May. Joining in the suit are Public Citizen, the Sierra Club, the Environmental Law Foundation and Teamsters Local 70.
In addition, the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association said it is preparing to file suit against the project as well.
Congress, meanwhile, has legislation that would cut off funding for the project. The House has passed the measure but the Senate has not yet taken it up.