[dropcap]A[/dropcap] bill filed by State Representative Sergio Muñoz Jr of Mission that would allow Mexican refrigerated carriers to operate overweight on Texas highways passed through the Texas House of Representatives on Thursday without debate. A companion bill in the Texas Senate, introduced by Senator Juan Hinojosa of McAllen has been filed and is under consideration.
The bills would allow Mexican carriers pulling refrigerated trailers to enter the border commercial zone and make delivery to the McAllen produce terminal and other locations.
Currently, Mexican weight laws allow up to 109,000 pounds gross weight to be hauled if the units have the required number of axles. In Texas, the gross weight is 80,000 in most cases.
The cost of the permit for the Mexican carriers would be $80, which the Texas Department of Transportation says would be enough to cover any damage to the roads. Currently, an overweight citation in Texas is $110.00, which could change if HB-3094 becomes law.
Currently, a Mexican carrier coming out of the produce regions of western Mexico has to stop at a transfer point on the Mexican side of the border across from Hidalgo Texas, and reshuffle his load to get legal for Texas. The extra produce removed from the truck then needs to be loaded onto yet another Mexican carrier for the trip across the border. This contributes to more expense and damage to the product, in addition to delays that diminish the quality of the produce.
This is nothing new though although some will make the claim we’re kowtowing to Mexican business interests. The Texas Department of Transportation already oversees three corridors for overweight trucks in other parts of the state; this new one would be the first to apply only to produce trucks. Arizona has a similar system for overweight trucks crossing the border near Nogales as does New Mexico.
Mexican officials are finishing the Mazatlán-Matamoros Corridor, a highway that will provide a direct route between Mexico’s western growing regions and South Texas. The road is expected to accelerate a shift of Mexican produce trucks entering the United States to Hidalgo County from Nogales, Ariz., for quicker access to East Coast markets.
“For the Mexican produce industry, it’s a no-brainer,” said Richard Sanchez, Mr. Muñoz’s chief of staff. “They’re going to save about six hours’ travel time coming through South Texas.”
Carlos Zambito, the marketing director of the McAllen Produce Terminal Market, where hundreds of trucks transfer produce daily, said the measure would mean fewer trucks passing through the area.
And if truck drivers are able to skip a detour, the measure could also lead to fresher produce at thousands of grocery stores.
“In perishables,” Mr. Zambito said, “every hour counts.”
SOURCES: New York Times, El Manana