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Our Opinion: Trucking: The good and the bad

June 30, 2001

While fears may be overblown, we don't see any great advantage to Imperial County in allowing Mexican truckers to cross the border and go as far as they need to go to deliver their goods.

The action taken by House of Representatives last week to not allow Mexican trucks to go beyond a 4-mile commercial zone around the U.S.-Mexico border is one that should be both good and bad for Imperial County.

While there may be a little more truck traffic, some more road strain and a bit more air pollution from Mexican trucks running back and forth in the 4-mile zone, rather than driving right through the Imperial Valley to their eventual destination, Calexico area trucking and warehousing operations would be damaged by giving Mexican trucks free passage through the country. Those businesses are dependent on the shuttle system within the 4-mile area.

We don't fully believe all the scare tactics from xenophobes and trucking union flacks regarding the condition of Mexican trucks. We don't think they would be in appreciably worse condition than U.S. trucks, particularly because they would be inspected on this side of the border more often than domestic trucks. Our concerns are about our local economy.

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The agreement to allow Mexican trucks free rein in this country was part of the North American Free Trade Agreement, but the trucking provision has been delayed for both valid and specious reasons in recent years. We in Imperial County have to weigh the good and bad of the current setup versus what would happen if the rules changed, and we think the existing system is best for us economically.

We do agree with a spokesman for our congressman, Duncan Hunter, who said the issue for Imperial County in this matter is infrastructure. It was the federal government that negotiated and implemented NAFTA, but it is places such as Imperial County that are carrying much of the burden.

With increased trade between the United States and Mexico comes increased stress on border-area infrastructure, particularly on our county roads from truck traffic. While the state has committed a fair amount to improve our road system, the federal government must be willing to help us more than it has, because it was the federal government that has put the burden on us.

So there are pros and cons to both the system as it is now and how it would be if it were changed. Frankly, in this case we are more comfortable with what we know than what we don't, and we know the system we have, with a few minor changes and a few major commitments, can work.

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