A long-delayed and controversial program to allow Mexican trucks to deliver goods to and from anywhere in the United States, and U.S. trucks to have the same privilege in Mexico, took effect Sept. 6 after the U.S. Transportation Department granted final approval. Despite continuing protests from the Teamsters and other driver and safety organizations, some Mexican trucks began rolling across the border May 7 under a year-long pilot program. The pilot provides that a specified number of Mexican trucking companies will be able to travel beyond the approximately 25-mile commercial zone that runs along the border. In the first 30 days of the program, 17 trucking companies from Mexico will be given authority by the U.S. DOT to operate in the U.S. Each subsequent month until December, additional companies, up to a total of 100, will be added, if they are certified as safe by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.
The first two carriers granted operating authority were Transportes Olympic in Nuevo Leon, Mexico, and Stagecoach Cartage and Distribution of El Paso, Texas.
The border had been scheduled to be opened to two-way truck traffic in 1995, but the opening was delayed by President Clinton, who had concerns about Mexican safety regulations.
A NAFTA arbitration panel ruled in 2001 that the moratorium violated the treaty. In February of this year, U.S. Transportation Secretary Mary Peters announced that the Bush administration would go forward with a one-year demonstration project as a prelude to full opening of the border.
The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco last month rejected a request made by the Teamsters union and other advocacy groups seeking a stay of the pilot plan.
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