OPPOSING THE LOCATION OF SO-CALLED ONE-STOP INSPECTION FACILITIES AT CROSS-BORDER BRIDGES IN U.S.-MEXICO, US-CANADA CITIES AND OTHER PORTS-OF-ENTRY

WHEREAS, international trade as a result of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) has resulted in Mexico becoming both the second largest importer of United States' goods, and second largest exporter of goods to the United States, making Mexico the United States' second largest trading partner after Canada; and

WHEREAS, trade with Mexico has become a critically important element of the economic growth of the United States, with U.S.-Mexico trade growing from $100 billion in the first year of NAFTA to $232 billion in 2001; and

WHEREAS U.S.-Mexico and U.S.-Canada trade, commerce and business development is an increasingly significant and important element of economic development in cities, large and small, throughout the country; and

WHEREAS, cities and ports-of-entry in the state of Texas handle 80 percent of all U.S.-Mexico trade with this trade increasing yearly; and

WHEREAS, each U.S.-Mexico and U.S.-Canada border city and port-of-entry has its own unique characteristics based on trade and traffic volume, land availability, geography, traffic patterns, transportation and other infrastructure, varying numbers of U.S. Customs, Immigration and Naturalization Service staff and other officers and inspectors; all of which impact and influence the location of such facilities; and

WHEREAS, for example, in the City of Laredo, Texas two commercial bridges, namely, the World Trade Bridge and the Colombia-Solidarity Bridge handle more than 40 percent of all overland trade between the United States and Mexico, and international bridges operated by other Texas cities and other border cities and ports-of-entry in other states are also critical to the secure and efficient movement of trade across the U.S.-Mexico border; and

WHEREAS, trucks waiting in congested traffic will have an adverse effect on the ability of the U.S. Customs Service to ensure and enforce security at our borders if garages for commercial vehicles are built at cross-border bridges; and

WHEREAS, the location of inspection stations at other points outside border commercial zones and the inspection of trucks therein will properly and adequately ensure the safety and security of the traveling public; and

WHEREAS in December 2001, Congress passed Public Law 107-87 known as the Department of Transportation and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2002, of which Section 350 specifies that "no funds limited or appropriated in this Act may be obligated or expended for the review or processing of an application by a Mexican motor carrier for authority to operate beyond United States municipalities and commercial zones on the United States-Mexico border until the Federal Motor Carrier Administration" performs the requisite vehicular inspections; and

WHEREAS, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration proposes implementing this provision by placing inspection facilities directly on certain international bridges where they will increase traffic congestion, increase pollution, seriously delay cargo, trade and truck movement; and increase potential security risks for residents, workers and travelers alike; and

WHEREAS, this proposed placement is not necessary to implement the law and is contrary to the law's purpose of regulating trucks seeking authority to leave the border commercial zones for the interior of the United States, and is opposed by local officials; and

WHEREAS, placement of inspection facilities where they will create traffic congestion and freight and traveler movement delays is contrary to administration policies and programs being implemented by the U.S. Customs Service in cooperation with the nation's Big Three automakers and more than 50 other leading corporations that have agreed to implement security measures and controls for goods and equipment entering the United States in order to expedite processing through border checkpoints in order to combat terrorism and speed the flow of commerce; and

WHEREAS, such proposed action by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration overlooks the actual situation of border cities in relation to international commercial traffic between cities on both sides of the border; and

WHEREAS, in fact there is a practical and operating distinction between "drayage trucking", that is trucks crossing between border cities on a daily, frequent and recurring basis solely within city and border commercial zone limits, and "over the road" (OTR) trucks, driving from the Mexican hinterland into Texas and other US-Mexico border states and further points inland in the United States. OTR or long haul drivers and manufacturers of the goods they transport will be adversely affected if trucks are forced to wait for inspections at cross-border bridges; and

WHEREAS, local law enforcement agencies have already operated to greatly improve and enhance the compliance levels and the quality of inspections of commercial vehicles and trucks operating within border commercial zones and will continue to do this job effectively and efficiently; and

WHEREAS, there is no statistical or historic evidence that shows that Mexico registered trucks have a greater propensity to be the cause of traffic accidents than other trucks inside commercial zones in border areas or beyond,

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that The U.S. Conference of Mayors goes on record as being opposed to the placement of vehicular inspection stations at international bridges and other border crossing points and ports-of-entry, where they will impede trade, create and further add to traffic congestion, reduce environmental quality, increase security risks and further reduce quality of life for residents of affected cities. Inspections performed as vehicles exit border commercial zones to the interior of the United States will insure the safety and security of the traveling public; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that The U.S. Conference of Mayors urges the U.S. Department of Transportation to consider the views and concerns of Mayors of border cities on this subject, including their belief that vehicular inspection stations be located where vehicles exit border commercial zones rather than at international bridges, where trucks traveling to the interior of the nation can be inspected by federal or federally assigned inspectors, while "drayage trucks" which travel only within the city limits continue to operate solely within border commercial zones and are inspected only by local police, compliance and enforcement officers within city limits in accordance with existing localized systems, policies and cross-border arrangements; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that The U.S. Conference of Mayors exhorts the U.S. Department of Transportation to seek a revision or modification of the policy of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration relating to the location of vehicular inspection stations for trucks traveling into the interior of the United States from Mexico, to accommodate the concerns herein expressed by the Mayors and particularly those Mayors of affected border cities upon whom innumerable businesses, cities and Mayors across the country rely and depend for the expeditious and secure movement of NAFTA-related goods and equipment.