Segment 2 Of 2     Previous Hearing Segment(1)

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PLEASE NOTE: The following transcript is a portion of the official hearing record of the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure. Additional material pertinent to this transcript may be found on the web site of the Committee at []. Complete hearing records are available for review at the Committee offices and also may be purchased at the U.S. Government Printing Office.







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AUGUST 9, 1996 (PHARR, TX)

Printed for the use of the

Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure


BUD SHUSTER, Pennsylvania, Chairman

WILLIAM F. CLINGER, Jr., Pennsylvania
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THOMAS E. PETRI, Wisconsin
HOWARD COBLE, North Carolina
JOHN J. DUNCAN, Jr., Tennessee
WILLIAM H. ZELIFF, Jr., New Hampshire
BILL BAKER, California
JAY KIM, California
STEPHEN HORN, California
BOB FRANKS, New Jersey
PETER I. BLUTE, Massachusetts
JOHN L. MICA, Florida
ZACH WAMP, Tennessee
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RANDY TATE, Washington
RAY LaHOOD, Illinois

NICK J. RAHALL II, West Virginia
ROBERT A. BORSKI, Pennsylvania
ROBERT E. WISE, Jr., West Virginia
BOB CLEMENT, Tennessee
ELEANOR HOLMES NORTON, District of Columbia
PAT DANNER, Missouri
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JAMES E. CLYBURN, South Carolina
BOB FILNER, California
FRANK MASCARA, Pennsylvania
GENE TAYLOR, Mississippi

Subcommittee on Surface Transportation

THOMAS E. PETRI, Wisconsin, Chairman

RAY LaHOOD, Illinois
WILLIAM H. ZELIFF, Jr., New Hampshire
BILL BAKER, California
JAY KIM, California
STEPHEN HORN, California
BOB FRANKS, New Jersey
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PETER BLUTE, Massachusetts
JOHN L. MICA, Florida
RANDY TATE, Washington
BUD SHUSTER, Pennsylvania
(Ex Officio)

NICK J. RAHALL II, West Virginia
ROBERT E. (BUD) CRAMER, Jr., Alabama
PAT DANNER, Missouri
JAMES E. CLYBURN, South Carolina
BOB FILNER, California
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FRANK MASCARA, Pennsylvania
ROBERT A. BORSKI, Pennsylvania
(Ex Officio)


Proceedings of:

August 8, 1996

August 9, 1996


August 8, 1996

  Casanova, José Maria, President, Union de Operadores del Autotransporte de Sonora A.C

  Campos, Alfredo Montes, Director, Municipal de Desarrollo Economico, Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas, Mexico
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  Donohue, Thomas J., President and CEO, American Trucking Associations, Inc

  Huber, June V., Assistant Commissioner for Portfolio Management, Public Buildings Service, U.S. General Services Administration

  Laney, David M., Commissioner of Transportation, Texas Department of Transportation

  Martinez, Hon. Mercurio, Jr., County Judge, Webb County, Laredo, TX and Vice Chairman, The North America's Superhighway Coalition

  Michie, Donald A., Ph.D., Chairman, Transportation Committee of the Border Trade Alliance, El Paso Foreign Trade Association

  O'Connell, K. Michael, Counsel, Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, Inc., accompanied by Charles Holman, Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, Inc., Member of the Board of Directors for the State of Texas

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  Prestridge, Jerry, Executive Director, Texas Bus Association, Inc. (TBA)

  Ramirez, Hon. Saul N., Jr., Mayor, City of Laredo, Texas

  Riojas, John, International Vice President, International Brotherhood of Teamsters

  Simpson, John P., Deputy Assistant Secretary for Regulatory Tariff and Trade Enforcement, U.S. Department of the Treasury

  Slater, Rodney E., Administrator, Federal Highway Administration, U.S. Department of Transportation accompanied by George L. Reagle, Associate Administrator for Motor Carriers

  Thomas, Col. Dudley, Assistant Director, Texas Department of Public Safety


  Casanova, José Maria
  Campos, Alfredo Montes5

  Donohue, Thomas J

  Huber, June V
  Laney, David M

  Martinez, Hon. Mercurio, Jr
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  Michie, Donald A

  O'Connell, K. Michael

  Prestridge, Jerry

  Ramirez, Hon. Saul N., Jr

  Riojas, John

  Simpson, John P

  Slater, Rodney E

Donahue, Thomas J., President and CEO, American Trucking Association, Inc:

Letter from Francisco J. Davila Rodriguez, Senador de la Republica of Mexico, July 5, 1996

Letter to Charles A Bowsher, Comptroller General, U.S. General Accounting Office, March 19, 1996

Martinez, Hon. Mercurio, Jr., County Judge, Webb County, Laredo, TX and Vice Chairman, The North America's Superhighway Coalition:

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Report, U.S. Exports to Mexico: A State-by-State Overview, 1987-1990 NAFTA & The Port of Laredo in the Year 2000, by Frank E. Leach, CED: Laredo Development Foundation

North America's Superhighway Coalition Mission Statement, Committee Structure, Coalition Overview, report

Laredo Morning Times, August 6, 1996*

Report, NAFTA Trade: Past, Present and Future, a 50-State Analysis and Forecast of U.S. Exports to Mexico, 1987—2000, Dean International, Inc., Public Policy Advisors and Consultants, 1996*

Michie, Donald A., Ph.D., Chairman, Transportation Committee of the Border Trade Alliance, El Paso Foreign Trade Association

US-Mexico Cross Border System General Model, chart

US-Mexico Regulation of Cross Border Transportation, Federal/Border State Comparisons Key Provisions, chart

Southwest Border Infrastructure Initiative Final Report, Border Trade Alliance

Riojas, John, International Vice President, International Brotherhood of Teamsters:

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Summary of Southwest Border Crossing Inspection Activities, December 18, 1995—April 5, 1996

Report, Commercial Trucking: Safety and Infrastructure Issues Under the North American Free Trade Agreement, U.S. General Accounting Office, February 1996

Report, Commodity Flow Study, City of Laredo, Texas, August 8, 1995


Giermanski, Dr. James R., Director, Transportation and Logistics, Texas A&M International University, report, ''Crossing Problems at the Border: The Result of Self-Interest''

  Leach, Frank E., C.E.D., Executive Director, Laredo Development Foundation, report, Laredo '96: Still Bordering the Future, charts on Laredo 1991—1995

  Morales, Dan, Attorney General, State of Texas, statement

  Pickle, Hon. Jake, Former Member of Congress, on behalf of Austin-San Antonio Corridor Council, statement

  Sprague, Stephen G., Vice President, Government Affairs, United Motorcoach Association, statement and attachments

  California Trucking Association, statement

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AUGUST 9, 1996

  Archer, Allyn, President, Texas Good Roads/Transportation Association

  Borchard, Hon. Richard, Judge, Nueces County, Texas

  Burnett, William G., Executive Director, Texas Department of Transportation

  Card, Hon. Bill, Mayor, Harlingen, TX

  Perez, Hon. Ricardo A., Mayor, Mission, TX

  Summers, Bill, President, Rio Grande Valley Partnership, on behalf of the I—69 Mid-Continent Highway Coalition


  Archer, Allyn

  Borchard, Hon. Richard

  Burnett, William G

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  Card, Hon. Bill

  Perez, Hon. Ricardo A

  Summers, Bill

  Gonzalez, Mayor, City of Brownsville, Texas, statement

  Ortiz, Hon. Solomon P., a Representative in Congress from Texas, statement

  Santos, Emilio D., President, Import-Export Produce Association, letter, August 9, 1996

  National Association of Independent Insurers, statement



House of Representatives,

Subcommittee on Surface Transportation,

Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure,
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Pharr, TX.

  The Subcommittee met, pursuant to call, at 9:07 a.m., on the Loading Dock, Pharr/Reynosa International Bridge, Pharr, Texas, Hon. Tom Petri (chairman of the subcommittee) presiding.

  Mr. PETRI. The Subcommittee on Surface Transportation is delighted to be here in this area at the invitation of our esteemed and highly respected colleague Kika de la Garza, former Chairman of the House Agriculture Committee and currently ranking member of that Committee and very active advocate for the people of the Valley and for U.S./Mexican relations.

  I think Representative de la Garza wanted to introduce the welcoming committee here today.

  Mr. DE LA GARZA. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.

  First, let me thank you and welcome you, Chairman Shuster and the other members of the Subcommittee, ranking member Mr. Rahall and Mr. Geren, our colleague from Texas and Eddie Bernice Johnson, our colleague from Texas. We are very happy that all of you are here and hopefully this will be a very productive meeting for you.

  Chairman Petri wanted to be as close to the river as he could be, and you cannot be any closer than this without being in the river. And then he wanted to have an open air meeting, so this used to be the old Customs facility and you cannot be more open air than this.
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  Now, let me introduce to you the Mayors that are here: Mayor Card of the City of Harlingen, Mayor Garcia of the host city of Pharr and representing Mayor Brand is City Manager Mike Perez and the Mayor of Brownsville that all of you visited with yesterday and I understand that Brownsville royal treatment prevailed there and in Matamoros.

  Mr. Chairman, these are friends and very distinguished members of our communities and they are here to tell you their story. And I appreciate very much your coming here. As I told a reporter who interviewed me for the radio, the benefit of having field hearings like this is so that the members of the Committee can have a feel and can visualize. You can go to Washington for a hearing and you can give all your story, but if the member can visualize where he was and what he has seen, it will be more helpful.

  So we thank you very much for your generously accepting our invitation to come down here and hopefully this will be a very helpful and productive hearing for both sides--your end and our end.

  Thank you very much.

  Mr. PETRI. Thank you. Would you Mayors like to say a few words.

  Mayor GARCIA. Yes, Mr. Chairman. On behalf of the City of Pharr and the Rio Grande Valley, I would like to welcome you this morning and I would like to thank you for coming here at our request and like Kika said, we are close to the river and we are thankful to God yesterday that we got some rain. I guess you were the lucky ones to bring it over and I thank you again for coming over.
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  Mr. PETRI. Mayor Card, any words?

  Mayor CARD. Mr. Chairman, I am going to appear on panel number two and at that time I will make my comments, but as a host mayor, I would just like to welcome you to the magic valley of the Rio Grande and tell you that we are extremely pleased that you have taken time out of your busy schedule to be with us today. We hope that the testimony that you receive will be helpful in making your decisions next year.

  Thank you.

  Mr. PETRI. We had a wonderful time yesterday over in Brownsville being hosted by Mayor Henry Gonzalez and we only wish we had gone to your restaurant instead of across the river, but we thank you very much for your hospitality.

  Mayor GONZALEZ. Thank you, Congressman. Like the rest of the Mayors, I am real happy that you are here in our community and I have presented testimony to you on how important the infrastructure that we are talking about, the I—69, starting from south Texas from Brownsville, from the Los Tomates Bridge going north and talking about how Cameron County and Brownsville, Texas are doing their part in making the commitment. I presented testimony to you all this morning and I will just leave you with that and I appreciate you all being in our community and in south Texas in the magic valley and thank you very much for joining us last night. We really had a very enjoyable evening and I bent some ears last night, so thank you very much.

  Mr. PEREZ. On behalf of the Mayor and City Commission, we would also like to welcome you. I extend my apologies from Mayor Brand. He left yesterday morning and flew down to see some of his farms in Mexico, got caught in some bad weather and had to spend the night. We thought he would be in early this morning, but apparently he has not made it. So on behalf of him, I would like to apologize to you.
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  It is a real pleasure for us in McAllen and south Texas to see this Committee coming and kicking the tires and we hope that when you leave, you will have a better understanding of our needs in south Texas. Thank you very much.

  Mr. PETRI. And I believe we are joined by Mayor de los Santos. Did you have a word you wanted to say?

  Mr. DE LA GARZA. Mr. Chairman, the Mayor of the City of Mission, Mayor Perez. Commissioner de los Santos I think is going to represent the Mayor of Edinburg.

  Mr. PETRI. Mayor Perez, would you like to say a word?

  Mayor PEREZ. Good morning. I apologize for the delay in getting here, there is a lot of construction going on as some of you might have noticed.

  I would like to welcome the Committee here on behalf of the elected officials here in south Texas and we certainly appreciate the fact that you have taken time from your busy schedules to be with us here down really at the origins of I—69. We are glad that you have made time to take an interest and look at the infrastructure needs of south Texas.

  Our testimony I think later on will really address more specifically and demographically the issues that we want to point out to the Committee. But welcome.

  Mr. PETRI. Thank you all very much.
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  The Subcommittee will now come to order. We want to thank Representative de la Garza for his warm welcome and all the Mayors and their representatives for welcoming the Subcommittee to this area. I think we should note the good work of the General Services Administration in preparing the excellent facilities where we are meeting.

  The Subcommittee on Surface Transportation is meeting to discuss issues relating to border infrastructure in the Lower Rio Grande Valley.

  Currently there are 11,000 truck crossings each day along our 2000 mile border with much of this traffic occurring right here in the Lower Rio Grande Valley. Certainly it is not efficient or desirable to have bottlenecks which cause delays along the border and today we are meeting at the Pharr/Reynosa Bridge with traffic moving across obviously as the hearing proceeds.

  When we first started planning these hearings, I was interested in seeing if we could hold a hearing as close to the border as possible, and I think we have achieved that objective.

  This morning we will hear from a broad cross section of witnesses representing the concerns of the Lower Rio Grande Valley and Texas. Before we begin, I would like to note that we are joined by the Chairman of the full Committee, Representative Bud Shuster from Pennsylvania, and also the Consul of Mexico, Juan Carlos Kuvega and several of the officials from the Mexican Department of Transportation--Armondo Quintana, and Jos Antonio Lemarc--excuse me if I mangled that but we are honored by your presence, gentlemen and thank you for being here today.

  I would like to now yield to the ranking Democrat on the Subcommittee, Congressman Nick Rahall, for any statement he would like to make.
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  Mr. RAHALL. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. It is indeed a delight to join the Subcommittee here on the border for these most important hearings. We have seen a lot in the few days we have been down here and we will see some more before we depart today, on the infrastructure along the border.

  But the witnesses that are with us today, we also appreciate the time that you are taking and in some cases long travel to be with us. These are important hearings and the information that we obtain will be vital to us as we reauthorize next year's Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act as well as other NAFTA-related issues that will come before the Congress, and border issues.

  So we thank our witnesses for being here today. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

  Mr. PETRI. I now yield to the Honorable Bud Shuster, Chairman of the Full Infrastructure Committee of the House of Representatives of the United States.

  Mr. SHUSTER. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. I certainly want to congratulate you and Mr. Rahall and your Subcommittee for holding this important hearing.

  This is the first in terms of our Committee having a field hearing on the United States/Mexican border. And indeed this site symbolizes the importance of the international trade and how important it is to this region's economy.

  At today's hearing, I know we are going to hear first-hand from those of you who know the needs of the border communities and what we in Washington can do to help understand and promote this region. The Lower Rio Grande Valley is one of the fastest growing regions in the United States. The McAllen metropolitan region, I am told, grew by nearly 10 percent between 1990 and 1992. In 1993, McAllen led all metropolitan areas of the United States in job creation, posting a rate of 6.7 percent increase, nearly three times the national average. This phenomenal growth can be directly traced to trade with Mexico.
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  Today's witnesses will discuss how if this region is to continue to grow in the future, it will need infrastructure improvements, particularly highway improvements such as the proposed I—69.

  I was pleased to work with numerous members from Texas and other states to designate I—69 as a Congressional high priority corridor in ISTEA, to direct that the I—69 high priority corridor extend into the Lower Rio Grande Valley and to name I—69 as a future interstate in the NHS Designation Act which passed out of our Committee and out of the Congress and was signed into law last year.

  So I certainly look forward to today's hearing.

  Mr. PETRI. Thank you. Let me just mention as we begin with the first panel, some of you may not be familiar with the Congressional oversight or hearing process and sometimes if you just see it on TV you get an overly dramatized view of what actually goes on. The purpose of the hearing today--and we have had a series of hearings in Washington and in other places all year long--is to gather testimony from trade groups, individuals, communities, regions of the country on what the needs are and what we ought to be doing as a country in the surface transportation area as we begin work on rewriting federal transportation highway laws for the next 5 or 7 years. Doing it in an open process like this merely means that everyone gets a chance to see what other people's points of view are and consider their concerns and adjust their own positions if that seems appropriate. Hopefully out of the interchange we end up with a better approach and at least we give everyone a chance to have their input.

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  The full statements will of course be made a part of the record. In the interest of time, we would appreciate it if you could try to summarize the high points of your remarks in about 5 minutes and then there will be additional time to underline that in the response to questions.

  The first panel consists of Mr. William Burnett who is the Executive Director of the Texas Department of Transportation and Mr. Allyn Archer, the President of the Texas Good Roads Association. Gentlemen, we welcome you and look forward to your testimony. Mr. Burnett, would you like to begin?


  Mr. BURNETT. Good morning, Mr. Chairman and members of the Subcommittee. As the Chairman pointed out, I am Bill Burnett. In recent weeks, I have spent a large amount of time with this Committee discussing reauthorization in my role as President of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials. But today I am probably more proud to appear before you today as the Executive Director of the Texas Department of Transportation to welcome the Subcommittee to Texas and to thank you for bringing these ISTEA reauthorization hearings and border infrastructure hearings to the Lower Rio Grande Valley of Texas.

  I know that your visit here has allowed you to see and focus national attention on a transportation system that is critical to strong economic national growth in our international trade efforts.
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  With the passage of the North American Free Trade Agreement, adequate and well planned transportation systems have risen to the forefront of the national economic interest and the safe and efficient movement of people and goods along the U.S. borders with Canada and Mexico is critical to our nation's interest.

  To ensure that the highway network in Texas is up to this challenge, Texas is improving our interstate system and our major highways on the national highway system, but we are also improving our secondary system. Although many of the routes that you have seen and are versed in are not necessarily designated as high priority corridors like U.S. 281 and U.S. 77 have been here in the valley, all of these routes play a major role to both local traffic and international traffic.

  Our bridges and border crossings are already among the busiest points of entry in North America and the volume of traffic that crosses them continues to grow substantially before NAFTA and even greater now with NAFTA. The increase in truck traffic resulting from both NAFTA and the state's overall economic growth is a growing challenge to the Texas Department of Transportation's ability to meet the needs for improvements to Texas' existing transportation system.

  And I would point out that in ISTEA, there was a Section 6015 that required that a study be done on the border infrastructure, primarily bridges, and I would point out that the State of Texas takes great exception to what that report pointed out. I think in theory we can agree with that report that yes, there are enough bridges, but the problem is the capacity of the bridges, the location of the bridges and the structural ability of the bridges to carry the loads that we now receive with our sister country Mexico.
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  The majority of our bridges, as you have noticed on your tours, dump you into central business areas and this is a major concern to us. We need to be able to relocate a lot of these structures out to loops like you saw in Laredo. We need to move them, like this facility, away from the central business district, to get, number one, the traffic out of town; and number two, to assist in improving or ensuring that our air quality does not diminish due to the idling and the queuing of vehicles as they wait to come across the bridges and put their emissions into the air.

  Within the last few years, we in Texas have strengthened our commitment to improving the transportation infrastructure in this border region. The Texas Transportation Commission has established with state funds a category for NAFTA-related projects along the U.S./Mexico border in Texas. Our three border districts are the only districts that received these funds; the Pharr District, the Laredo District and the El Paso District.

  Maybe as you came to the bridge today and came down South 10th Street, you saw a $3.3 million project that our Department has funded in our NAFTA category. Here in the Pharr District over the next 2 years, we still have another $8 million worth of projects to improve our connections.

  With this type of support, TxDOT is also sharply increasing our overall investment in transportation along the border. For example, during the 18 month period ending January 1993, Texas has completed construction on $150 million worth of projects along the border. During the 18 month period ending September 1995 and again during the 18 month period ending September 1996 we will complete or let through contracts an additional $350 million worth of projects along the border.
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  For the future, we expect to commit $372 million of new highway construction projects, some of this federally funded, a lot of this state funded, in all categories--national highway system, interstate maintenance, bridge, all categories along the border between September 1995 and August 1997. Our long-range plan, our 10-year plan, calls for the Department to begin construction on a total of more than $1.39 billion in the border region to improve highway infrastructure down here. Some of these projects, as you have seen, are in Laredo, some are in Brownsville, Harlingen, Pharr and some are also in El Paso.

  The Department has also been working with Mexico in a program that ISTEA brought and the Federal Highway Administration brought, and that is the Border Technology Exchange Program. We have begun a regular exchange of planning information and technology expertise with our counterparts in the Mexican states adjoining Texas. Engineers from the ten United States and Mexican border states have, sometimes for the first time, come together and forged common understandings of some of the challenges each of us face in their day-to-day responsibilities.

  Our Department is also working with the International Boundary Water Commission. We are presently in a joint agreement with the IBWC to reconstruct the Bridge of Americas in El Paso. This bridge was built under the Chamazol Treaty in the 1960s and has become deficient and we have become the contracting and designing arm for the IBWC to do that.

  The surface transportation system in the United States is unparalleled and as the Executive Director of the Texas Department of Transportation, my challenge is to do more with less and despite today's challenges we continue to strive for continuing excellence through making the best of our available resources. Our promise to the American public is to provide a reliable, efficient and environmentally sensitive transportation system. Our opportunity today is to address Texas' transportation infrastructure needs, both responsibly and creatively. We can and will meet our state's transportation needs by providing innovative solutions to traditional problems. I think you may have seen in Laredo, there at Bridge IV, which is an innovative financing project that the Department has been able to work cooperatively with the Texas Turnpike Authority and others to bring that soon to reality.
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  In facing our increasing demands our resources are increasingly scarce. Revenues from traditional sources are no longer keeping pace with increased transportation-related needs and with your help, we will make the 21st century a world of unlimited possibilities.

  I thank you for the opportunity to speak to you today and will be happy to answer any questions you may have about transportation in our state, Chairman.

  Mr. PETRI. Thank you, Mr. Burnett. Mr. Archer.

  Mr. ARCHER. Mr. Chairman, members, my name is Allyn Archer. I appear before you today as President of the Texas Good Roads/Transportation Association, a statewide trade group located in Austin, Texas. We have been in business since 1932 to promote our Texas highway system. On behalf of our entire membership, we want to applaud you for holding this hearing in our state.

  In the interest of time, I want to focus on a single issue today--the impact of NAFTA on our state's infrastructure.

  You have chosen a good site in your effort to learn more about our state's transportation needs. I will not repeat the statistics I know that you have heard or will hear from our state transportation officials. But what you have heard will make it clear that Texas is the number one state, by a wide margin, in dealing with NAFTA. Our group has been supportive of NAFTA. At the same time, we have appealed to the Congress to make more money available to deal with the NAFTA-related infrastructure needs. I make this same appeal to you again here today. Texas has not sat idly by waiting for outside assistance. Our state has spent more than a half billion dollars in recent years in our border areas. We have done that at a time when there are growing needs throughout our state.
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  The Congress has adopted NAFTA as a national policy and we support this concept. But Congress needs to find a mechanism beyond the normal highway trust fund to provide monies for the border area infrastructure needs.

  Chairman Shuster, we commend you for your successful efforts to take the highway trust fund off budget.

  Again, we appreciate your interest in coming to Texas and the Rio Grande Valley to conduct this hearing.

  Thank you very much.

  Mr. PETRI. Thank you. And I would like to note that the Governor of the State of Tamaulipas, Manuel Cavazos was to be part of this panel, but was called away on economic development business and that is a very high priority. We understand his inability to be there.

  Mr. de la Garza.

  Mr. DE LA GARZA. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. Yes, I wanted to mention that I was in contact with the Governor Cavazos Lerma's office yesterday and they informed me that both he and the Mayor of Reynosa, Mayor Oscar Luebert, were off to Missouri on an economic development trip that had been scheduled before this meeting and they send their apologies, their regrets and their best wishes to the Committee.

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  Mr. PETRI. Thank you.

  Are there particular questions? I would like to begin, if I could, with one for Mr. Burnett.

  I understand from earlier meetings that your Department has recently completed an evaluation of a variety of different alternatives for improving interstate links between Mexico and the United States in this region and has settled on number seven. And that it has a payback ratio under your evaluation of 1.43 or thereabouts, which is quite a high one. It would link this area and the Brownsville area with infrastructure south of the border.

  Could you describe that process a little bit and if there is a close runner up or how that all worked or how high a priority Texas is going to give to the results of that study?

  Mr. BURNETT. Sure, Chairman.

  As you all are aware, in the original ISTEA legislation when they set up high priority corridors, there were High Priority Corridor 18 and High Priority Corridor 20 which are commonly referred to as I—69 and they, in this part of the state, did not come down to this area, they went down U.S. 59 to Laredo. In May 1994, our Transportation Commission elected to expend state funds to expand that study to look at U.S. 77 and U.S. 281. We were later successful with the National Highway System Designation Act to get that included and we appreciate that, those two additions.

  The Department has employed a firm to help us evaluate that. We evaluated it, we came up with seven alternatives, and you are correct, the preferred alternative is number seven. Number seven was presented to our Commission at their meeting last Wednesday in Texarkana. They will take action on it next--the last Thursday in September when they meet. And that recommendation is, in this part of the state, to improve U.S. 77, to improve U.S. 281; also, where you were yesterday in Laredo, to improve U.S. 59 and bring that forward. The cost/benefit ratio is a dollar forty something and I think the cost to do this is a little over $3 billion, if I remember my numbers right. After the Commission adopts this, this will be submitted to the large national--what we will call I—69 Study Group for their consideration. Our Department will campaign and our state will campaign very heartily to see that these stay in this study and I think our Commission and our Department is committed to working to improve these routes. We realize that down here in the Valley, we have over 750,000 Texans, probably one of the largest areas in the United States that is not connected to the interstate system, I think the nearest interstate is over 100 and some miles away. And it is our desire here in Harlingen, Brownsville, Edinburg, McAllen, Mission, Pharr to improve U.S. 77 and U.S. 281 and use this study as a stepping stone to kick it off.
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  Mr. PETRI. Thank you.

  One other question for you, Mr. Burnett, or perhaps both of you, and that is that as we travel back and forth along the border, we hear a lot of requests for infrastructure investment, especially for bridges. Because of the growth in population, communities on both sides of the border want to build beltways and move the commercial transportation out of the congested center city. But on the other hand, we keep hearing rumblings that the major reason for the congestion is not lack of infrastructure but various social institutions or customs that have developed on both sides of the border, over the last 100 years and that are now outdated. They may have worked in an earlier and simpler time, but they are now delaying complicating and adding to the congestion at the border with a lot of backhaul and special border movements. We hear that throwing more money at the problem is not going to be a solution until the institutional changes are addressed.

  So do you have any suggestions on how we can create great incentives to encourage reform and efficiency at the border, as a precondition or as a part of improving the infrastructure.

  Mr. BURNETT. Mr. Chairman, I think what you describe is very accurate. I think there are some institutional barriers that prohibit the efficient movement of vehicles across the border. I think one area that this Committee could help us would be to permit--and I think we have, the states have a lot of the flexibility to do it, but to broaden our flexibility, would be to look at intelligent transportation systems. I think that as ISTEA is reauthorized and as subsequent federal legislation comes, I think we cannot lose the ability that we have in technology that ITS, Intelligent Transportation Systems, can bring us. I think there are a lot of things we can do to preclear goods, move goods, there are a lot of things that we can do to track vehicles through ITS, and we just need to be progressive and go out there, pursue that funding and pursue that technology and go for it.
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  Mr. ARCHER. I think that is definitely a problem at the border crossings and therefore requires the need for more efficient ways to make those crossings. The additional bridges, like this one here, have been tremendously helpful in doing that. However, the need to efficiently move goods safely through our state is one of the areas that we think your Committee could do the most good in. The State of Texas has invested tremendous amount of monies in the areas in south Texas and in the entire state and it is a critical linkage to the NAFTA process for our nation.

  So therefore, we feel that additional help in the area of building our infrastructure, bypassing congested areas, is definitely a key factor in promoting NAFTA.

  Mr. PETRI. Thank you, gentlemen, for your testimony and for being here today. We appreciate your contribution to our hearing.

  The next panel is comprised of the Honorable Richard Perez, Mayor of Mission; Bill Card of Harlingen; Richard Borchard, the Judge of Nueces County; Bill Summers, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Rio Grande Valley Partnership. Oscar Luebert Gutierrez, the Presidente Municipal of Reynosa had hoped to join us but was called away on business at the last moment.

  Gentlemen, excuse the back squeal. We welcome you and look forward to your testimony. Mayor Perez, would you care to begin?

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  Mayor PEREZ. Sure. First of all, I would like to again thank the Committee for taking time to join us. I am the Mayor of the City of Mission, I reside in Mission, have lived there all my life.

  Mission is a fairly historical city, we have a lot of heritage and cultural history that we are very proud of. Very briefly, our Congressman Kika de la Garza, Mission is the hometown of our Congressman and has been the hometown of the 15th Congressional District for at least the last 45 years. We are very proud of our Congressman and the contributions that he has made to all of south Texas. Of course, we are also the hometown of former Cabinet Treasury Secretary Lloyd Bentsen and we were at one time the--the orator of the Senate, William Jennings Bryan also had a summer home in Mission. So we feel we are integrally tied with the legislative history of our federal government in Mission, Texas.

  Of course, on the sports side, we are the hometown of Tom Landry and also now the Dettler brothers, Coy with Colorado and Ty the Philadelphia Eagles now. So we have a lot of history that we are very proud of in Mission.

  But the reason we are before you today is to point out just a few brief issues. My testimony is about six pages and it is prepared and handed in to the Committee, but it is mostly demographic data. And the last thing I want to do is start reading numbers.

  I would like to maybe start by just saying that this area is an area that is rich in history. We have a community south of Mission that has been with us in this area settled over 240 years ago and many of the northern cities in Mexico are hundreds of years old and really these communities parallel the history of the 13 colonies and were here before the 13 colonies. So we feel that we have a place in history, yet the attention that has been given this area has not been equal to that of the 13 colonies the last 230 years or so. And we feel that it is our turn to present the needs that we have in this area.
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  We think that it is important that the Committee look at the growth factors in this area. For many years, at least the last 50 or so years, we were primarily an agriculturally based area. Our community was really founded on the history of the ruby red grapefruit and its contributions to the ag industry are phenomenal. But we are no longer just an ag industry based area in south Texas. Our growth is phenomenal.

  All of you know that this area is the third fastest growing area in the United States. The Mission-McAllen-Pharr-Edinburg SMSA is the third fastest growing area in the United States. Our growth in Mission alone has been phenomenal in the last 5 years alone. So it is no longer a small rurally isolated community or group of communities.

  So we think that to make a point or an analogy is that we are like the father of the bride that invited too many people to the wedding and to his amazement everybody showed up. We are much like that. Our ceremony, our wedding, really is NAFTA. NAFTA ended up inviting the western hemisphere to south Texas and to our surprise everybody is showing up. In our SMSA alone, we have had phenomenal growth as far as number of companies that have located here on the U.S. side and the twin plant concept on the Mexican side. Just in the last 5 or 6 years, we have created over 52,000 jobs in northern Mexico and in the valley of south Texas.

  So we feel that our growth merits one simple thing. And that is to be like every other metroplex in the United States of this size and this growth. We need an interstate and we need to be connected to an interstate. And our plea to the Committee is to recognize our growth factors, to recognize the fact that the area of south Texas is no longer the back door. We are the front door. NAFTA has thrust us in the position of being the front door to the western hemisphere. And we think that this area now deserves what it basically needs to comply with the promise of NAFTA and that is a new interstate. We think that the growth factors here along Highway 281 are phenomenal. 281 is the highway that begins here and ends in Canada and we feel that it is part of the I—69 system. We feel that 281 is a highway so utilized by our populations here in Texas and in northern Mexico that it is really one of the more direct routes, not only to the markets in Houston but the markets in San Antonio and the Dallas/Fort Worth area.
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  So not to bore you with any more pleas, but that simple plea that this area is only asking for what every other area our size in the United States has--an interstate. We encourage and plead to the Committee that you sponsor and promote legislation which does just that and that we make south Texas the origins of I—69.

  Thank you very much and I would be glad to answer any questions after my peers finish with their testimony. Thank you.

  Mr. PETRI. Thank you, Mr. Mayor. Mr. Card.

  Mayor CARD. Good morning, Mr. Chairman. Welcome again Congressman Rahall, Congresswoman Johnson, Congressman Geren, Mr. Chairman, Congressman Shuster. We are certainly pleased again that you are here and we have an opportunity to present our case to you.

  If we cannot justify our case--certainly I am not here to testify to ask for anything. I am here to present to you something that I think is an investment strategically for the United States of America.

  I would like to submit my written comments into the record, Mr. Chairman.

  Mr. PETRI. It will be made a part of the record.

  Mayor CARD. Thank you very much, sir.

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  I would like to emphasize my oral comments this morning on the strategic implications of why you are here, why we are here and what is happening in this part of the United States.

  My honored colleague, Mayor Perez, talked about this MSA of the McAllen-Edinburg-Mission MSA. I want to emphasize the fact that we have two MSAs in the Rio Grande Valley, we are one economic entity. Now at the present time, both MSAs, including Brownsville-Harlingen-San Bonito are in the top 200 in the nation. As a matter of fact, they are right at the top of the second 100. So if you run the first 100 on the screen, those two do not appear, but if you join us as Dallas and Fort Worth, we are in the top 60 in the nation. So I want you to look at us as one MSA, not two MSAs.

  Secondly, if you could visualize the southern tip of Texas and take your small finger and cover the southern tip of Texas, it is going to cover from Laredo to Brownsville.

  Now I would like to draw a picture for you of an hourglass. The top part of the hourglass is Canada and the United States north of the Rio Grande Valley. And you know we are separated from the United States by the big King Ranch and for many, many years that is the reason why nobody ever thought anything about the Rio Grande Valley. You had to go around it, under it, over it, somehow or other get through it, but you cannot get through the King Ranch. Fortunately the railroads opened up the Rio Grande Valley, then the airlines opened up the Rio Grande Valley, and now here we are before you saying that it is important to open up the roadway system with an interstate.

  If you take the bottom part of the hourglass, do not stop with Mexico, it is Central and South America. We are already talking about the possibilities of Chile joining NAFTA and of course that is going to be decided by Congress and we understand that.
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  But it is the neck of the hourglass that is so important. The neck of the hourglass is if you can visualize from Laredo to Brownsville, and we are either going to be a bottleneck or we are going to be a facilitator of moving the goods and services back and forth between our countries. As a businessman, it makes absolutely no sense to me to be pouring billions and billions and billions of dollars in areas north of us or in Mexico south of us, as they are working mightily to do if we are going to have a bottleneck between Laredo and Brownsville. Those of you who were in Matamoros last night know a little bit about what I am talking about, a bottleneck. Now I know that your bus was expedited on through by the police, but I want to tell you that the only way that I got across that bridge finally was to pull my badge and show them that I had to be in Matamoros, and I could not get through all of the areas until I said I need to be over there in the next 15 minutes, and they let me on through. So we are at the neck of the hourglass and I would hope when you go back to Washington that you visualize that.

  The other aspect that I think is so important is we keep talking about new facilities, new facilities. Gentlemen and lady, if we could have adequate personnel--adequate personnel--to staff the existing facilities that we have today, you would improve the traffic congestion situation by conservatively 25 to 35 percent. We do not have adequate Customs personnel, we do not have adequate INS personnel. And we have these bridges that have been built and millions of dollars have been put into these facilities and yet again, you will find many hours of the day where there are only two or three or four of the various lanes are open. The other lanes are closed because of inadequate personnel.

  So I submit to you that one of the first things in going back to Washington is to look at the personnel situation because for years our good Congressman Kika de la Garza and Solomon Ortiz have been trying to make the case of the necessity of adequate personnel.
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  Finally, I want to talk about funding, and everything always comes down to funding. I am a banker by trade, I am an investment banker, and I know how important funds are and the leveraging of funds. This area provides to the state of Texas approximately three to four percent of the total sales tax revenue from gasoline tax to the state, but traditionally we only get one percent returned. And that does not make any sense to me. I understand that there is the possibility in this next year that we are going to receive roughly about $38 million for normal maintenance and improvement in the Pharr District. Well we have ten percent of the road miles, if you take all of Dallas, Houston, Austin, San Antonio, Corpus Christi and add them together, and we have got ten percent of the road miles of that area. And yet again, of the over $2 billion that comes to the state which is shared both locally from the state and also from the federal government, this area receives one percent. Somehow or other, gentlemen and lady, we need to change that ratio. If we received the three percent, one dollar for the dollar that we provide to it, I can tell you that many of the problems we have here at the present time would be solved within the next 5 or 10 years.

  And so lastly, I just want to say I am pleased again that I am here, that we can make our case to you. We are available to come to Washington, D.C. and make what testimony is necessary to prove our case. I—69 is critical to the Rio Grande Valley, it is critical to the state of Texas and it is vital to the United States of America.

  Thank you very much and I will be happy to answer any questions. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

  Mr. PETRI. Thank you. Mr. Summers.
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  Mr. SUMMERS. Mr. Chairman, members of the Subcommittee, it is a great honor for you to come to the Rio Grande Valley. We know that the Lord walked on these grounds many years ago and we consider ourselves very lucky to be here. It is an honor, as I said, to have you here and we want to welcome you to the beautiful Rio Grande Valley and especially this area here.

  I would like to just sit and talk with you, but there is some information I have got to give you, so I am going to have to read part of it. On behalf of the I—69 Mid-Continent Highway Coalition, which represents local elected officials and business leaders from the states of Michigan, Indiana, Kentucky, Tennessee, Arkansas, Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas, I would like to thank you for the opportunity to testify on ISTEA authorization.

  We are here to recommend that the Subcommittee establish a separate category in ISTEA reauthorizing legislation aimed at distinguishing corridors with international trade significance and national economic development benefits. While the entire 160,000 mile National Highway System is significant, we believe that some corridors such as I—69 and I—35 and others are of such national and international significance as to merit a separate category within the National Highway System with dedicated funding to assure their completion. We believe this is essential to the nation's economy.

  I—69 consists of two congressionally-designated high priority corridors of national significance: High Priority Corridor 18, which represents an extension of I—69 from Indianapolis to Evansville, Memphis, Shreveport, Houston and the Rio Grande Valley in Texas via U.S. Highway 281 and U.S. Highway 77; and High Priority Corridor 20, which consists of U.S. 59 from Texarkana to Houston and Laredo. The combination of these two corridors make up a direct route stretching from Port Huron, Michigan--adjacent to Ontario, Canada where it connects to the Canadian highway system--to Laredo and the Rio Grande Valley at the Texas/Mexican border where it connects to the Mexican highway system. The I—69 corridor will link the commercial centers of Canada, the United States and Mexico via a direct and seamless route.
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  I—69 is the most direct trade highway between Mexico and Canada for the northeast and southeast quadrants of the United States. Texas and the northeast quadrant of the United States accounts for 76 percent of truck-borne trade with Mexico through south Texas. States of the northeast quadrant account for 71 percent of truck-borne trade with Canada. Twenty of the nation's top 25 seaports are directly connected to I—69 and 16 of the nation's top 25 air cargo airports are readily accessible by I—69.

  Completing I—69 is truly of national and international significance. The resulting reduction in travel time, fuel consumption and costs over the existing circuitous route will be of benefit to the entire eastern half of the United States.

  The Rio Grande Valley has a cross-border metro area population of nearly 2.5 million people and at the same time represents one of the nation's three rural empowerment zones. Trade flowing through the ports of entry in the Rio Grande Valley amounts to $13 billion or 14 percent of the trucked Mexico/U.S. trade. An extensive maquiladoras program functions in the Rio Grande Valley. Many of the companies operating plants here have their headquarters or main manufacturing facilities in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan and Ohio, making the connection via I—69 all the more efficient for the movement of manufactured products or their component parts between plants.

  Results from the first round of feasibility studies for High Priority Corridors 18 and 20 indicate that each of the corridors is a wise investment of public funds. The studies found that for every dollar invested in Corridor 18, the user could expect a return of $1.39, nearly a 40 percent return. But greater still, Corridor 20's preliminary findings indicate benefit to cost ratios ranging from $1.49 to $1.72 for every dollar invested.
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  It is clear to us that the federal government's role in the areas of international trade and the national economy continues to exist and, indeed, will be heightened in the future with the expansion of the North American Free Trade Agreement. As I have indicated here today, I—69 would serve important international, national and regional traffic flows, providing benefits to such traffic in excess of facility costs. The facility would have a variety of beneficial economic development impacts to the corridor area, including increased jobs, wages and value added. Just as important, development of I—69 would save lives and reduce accident costs by improving access and deployment capabilities for important intermodal facilities and military installations. A separate funding category would assure the timely provision of these benefits to the nation.

  Mr. Chairman and members of the Subcommittee, on behalf of the Mid-Continent Highway Coalition, I thank you for the opportunity to testify here today and for your interest.

  Mr. PETRI. Thank you. Judge Borchard, welcome.

  Judge BORCHARD. Thank you, sir. I am sorry I am late. I was en route here from Corpus Christi and was hoping it would rain just like it did over here. I understand they had nice rains in McAllen and the Rio Grande. Nice to be here.

  Mr. PETRI. You are not late at all.

  Judge BORCHARD. Everybody needs some rain.

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  Mr. PETRI. Yes. Although this season we certainly don't need more in Wisconsin.

  Judge BORCHARD. There was a lot of rain in Dallas last night.

  Mr. Chairman and members of the Committee, I am going to make this brief. It is just two pages, I am going to read something in less than 5 minutes of your time here.

  I would like to first thank you and Committee members for coming to our region to hear and to see first-hand our concerns on our transportation infrastructure and how the reauthorization of ISTEA will impact our community. My name is Richard Borchard, County Judge of Nueces County, which includes the city of Corpus Christi metropolitan area.

  The focus of my comments is on the critical importance of the proposed I—69. As your committee continues to work on drafting the reauthorization of ISTEA, I would like to provide you with a few issues to consider which I believe are cornerstones of our national transportation policy and the intent of the 1991 ISTEA bill.

  The National Intermodal Transportation System should not just address simple mobility concerns, but should rather assist the nation address the following:

  Intermodal linkage is a cornerstone of the ISTEA and should continue to be a focal point for reauthorization legislation. The proposed I—69 would facilitate multimodal linkage between the major distribution hubs in our nation and our Mexican/Canadian trading partners.

  In Texas, the proposed I—69 would tie in highways with the state's rail, air and marine facilities--the conduits to international trade.
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  As the Congress and the Federal Highway Department consider the TxDOT I—69 recommendations, I ask you to take note on whether the state's recommendations take into account the many communities where the highway, rail and marine systems converge.

  In Texas, the Valley, Corpus Christi and Houston metropolitan areas are where these systems link and provide the greatest beneficial impact to the nation due to their direct intermodal linkage to global markets.

  Seaport access was emphasized in the ISTEA and must continue to be a major issue in reauthorization. United States seaports facilitated the movement of $450 billion in international cargo in 1990. This number is only expected to grow with the establishment of new trade corridors as a result of NAFTA trade.

  A proposed I—69 which ties together as many international gateways in the nation is the only viable route. An interstate system which connects the Ports of Corpus Christi,--which is the nation's sixth largest port in tonnage--the Port of Brownsville, the Port of Houston will maximize mobility within the overall national transportation system.

  These Texas ports are also positioned to serve as ports for northern Mexico due to their linkage to Mexico by highway, rail and sea.

  International trade has boomed between Mexico and the United States; however, our infrastructure investment in Texas has not kept pace with this growth. According to the United States Department of Commerce, ''U.S. exports to Mexico totaled a monthly record of $4.7 billion in May. Moreover, from January through May of 1996, exports to Mexico were up 18 percent.''
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  Economic development should continue to be a determining factor in assessing which transportation programs provide a greater return for public monies.

  According to the 1991 ISTEA, the National Intermodal Transportation System should promote economic development and provide for social benefits associated with quality of life. I—69 would do just that, provide for the only interstate linkage between the Valley and the Coastal Bend Region with the rest of the nation. This region is one of the poorest areas of the nation and in serious need of economic development.

  Historically, per capita incomes for Nueces County and neighboring San Patricio County have ranked among the lowest in the nation. The two counties have a combined average of $12,408 with San Patricio at $11,127 per capita.

  Funding reauthorization of the proposed I—69 will be the bottom line. We here in this room recognize the tough choices you must make. However, please remember that development of I—69 is an investment in the future of our nation. What started out as a network of roads in the northeast has blossomed into today's Dwight D. Eisenhower Highway System.

  This system must evolve to recognize the continued growth which is the result of new trading partners in our nation if we are to link with emerging global markets.

  Between 1973 and 1985, Japan invested an average of 5.1 percent of its output in public facilities and achieved a productivity growth of about 3.3 percent per annum. At the same time, the United States invested an average of .3 percent per year and had a productivity growth rate of only .6 percent. There is no question that a nation's infrastructure investment yields a very strong return and contributes to its continued economic growth.
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  In short, we strongly support a provision within the reauthorization of ISTEA to earmark the funds necessary to develop an I—69 interstate which links our Valley and the Coastal Bend communities with markets in and out of our nation.

  Thank you, sir.

  Mr. PETRI. Thank you. Thank you all for your testimony. We appreciate your effort you put into it very much.

  Representative Shuster, did you have a question?

  Mr. SHUSTER. Yes, I do. I think that you have made an extremely strong case for tying the Rio Grande Valley with an interstate north. My problem, as Chairman of the Committee, is figuring out where the money is going to come from in the next ISTEA, and not only the because of powerful case you have made here, but also because of the needs all across America.

  So my question to you is, have you considered or will you entertain some kind of a partnership agreement whereby indeed we would have high priority corridor special funding--interstate--but we also would have part of it funded by tolls, part of it funded through a public/private partnership. And perhaps you are aware of some of the work that has been done in Orange County, California, which is to say that the financial package may not be the normal package of Washington--of federal 80 percent, state 20 percent--but a much broader package of federal, state, toll, public, private and many other alternatives that I am not smart enough to think of here today. Would you care to respond to that?
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  Mayor CARD. Mr. Chairman, I would. And I know that normally you do not get one word answers in Washington, D.C. I spent a large part of my life in Washington, so I know how the answers come. The answer to your question is yes.

  Mr. SHUSTER. That is extraordinarily helpful because as I look at it, if we are going to meet the infrastructure needs of America, we are going to have to be more creative in terms of figuring out how we put packages together.

  Mayor CARD. Implicit in that answer is that we do want to be involved in the input of putting that partnership together and seeing how we can be innovative in leveraging the funds at both local, state and federal level.

  Mr. SHUSTER. Absolutely. Obviously you would have to be a full partner, you would have to be one of the leading partners. Yes, sir.

  Judge BORCHARD. I agree with the Mayor from Harlingen. I think with the massive undertaking and the costs involved in this project, it takes a partnership and I really support, firmly support a combination of public/private and other means to make this project work, because this is a real necessity and a real economic boost. So I think things like that ought to be considered.

  Mr. SHUSTER. I have a couple of questions for Mr. Summers. I wonder if this proposal to establish a separate highest priority corridor funding category includes other priority corridors previously designated in ISTEA and the National Highway System?
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  Mr. SUMMERS. Yes, sir, I think there is, that I know of, about six others. I think there is Corridor 23 that includes I—35; Corridor 5 that includes I—73 and 74; Corridor 26, the Canamex corridor; Corridor 27, the Camino Real; and one dear to your heart, Corridor 9 with I—99 and then I—5 on the west coast, Interstate 5 on the west coast.

  Mr. SHUSTER. Have your folks done any cost/benefit ratio analysis of I—69 compared to some of these other corridors?

  Mr. SUMMERS. As I said in my testimony, Corridor 20 is about $1.49 return and the Houston to Indianapolis part of that is $1.39, but Corridor 1 from Kansas City to Shreveport, Louisiana is $1.29; from St. Louis to St. Paul, Corridor 2 is only 66 cents; Corridor 3, the trans-America corridor, is only 68 cents and Corridor 14 is only 45 cents. So ours out does all of them, almost put together.

  Mr. SHUSTER. Thank you very much, that is very helpful.

  Mr. PETRI. Thank you.

  We have to have some--I am sure they got a rise from some of our other Representatives from Texas on the payback ratio and I wonder if you would like to explore that a bit.

  Mr. GEREN. I would, thank you, Mr. Chairman.

  Let me first say it is an honor to be here in the district of Kika de la Garza. He is leaving the Congress after a long and distinguished career. He is not the dean of the Texas delegation but he is the leader of the Texas delegation and it has been a great pleasure, and I know I speak for all of our Texas delegation who have had the privilege to serve with him over these years. Kika, it is great to be in your home and we know how much folks here think of you and certainly all of us in the Texas delegation feel the same way.
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  Mr. SHUSTER. Would the gentleman yield?

  Mr. GEREN. Be glad to yield.

  Mr. SHUSTER. I would love to make that a bipartisan statement because Kika has been an extraordinary help, not only I am sure to you here in Texas but across the United States, and has been one of the preeminent leaders in the Congress for many years. I come from a rural area in Pennsylvania where agriculture is very important and it is thanks to you, Kika, that so much progress has been made.

  Mr. GEREN. I was certainly glad to yield to our Chairman.

  I would like to--we do in Texas have so many unmet infrastructure needs. Our biggest challenge over the next couple of decades is going to be addressing those and as Chairman Shuster talked about some of the innovative financing mechanisms, it is so important that we explore those fully, and I know the TxDOT Board is working to do that, and all over the state, we are trying to make the most out of the resources that we have.

  In looking at the map from the perspective of the Valley and going all the way down to Brownsville, it is obvious the need for interstate service to this area. To have this number of people not have an interstate certainly limits your growth and it affects the economy of the whole state and particularly with the importance of trade.

  As I look at the map, you know, all of--it seems to me there are two routes that are very important to the Valley. One would be the 281 to San Antonio, not stopping halfway to San Antonio, but if I were just looking at it from the major metropolitan areas that need access to you all, one would be the San Antonio/DFW, the other is obviously Houston.
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  Would you think it would be equally important to have 281 go all the way to San Antonio in interstate status? It seems to me that way you would have the best of both world. 69 to Houston, interstate status, 281 to San Antonio interstate status, and that way you are hooked into I—35, you get to Houston on 69, you are hooked into 45 and you are hooked into 20. It certainly makes you all a full partner, and that is one piece of the service to this area that has not been emphasized by the group and I ask you to respond to that. Mr. Summers.

  Mayor PEREZ. I would be glad to respond to that. We have already met with officials from the City of San Antonio and the Austin area to really support and endorse the effort that they have in making the interstate, and 281 part of I—69. I think the traffic counts show that 281 traffic to San Antonio and Houston markets really is more than the 77 and 59 highways combined. So it is a logical step for this area. The San Antonio and Dallas-Fort Worth markets are certainly key to south Texas. So we have endorsed that idea and we are certainly promoting that idea of making 281 and 77 and 59 be part of a traffic flow not only to Houston markets but also to San Antonio and Dallas-Fort Worth, which are so important to this area.

  Mr. GEREN. It just seems to me the compelling part of the need for the Valley is here to San Antonio and here to Houston. The one stretch that I have the hardest time really understanding its importance relative to the others is the stretch from Houston to Shreveport when you have 45 that already runs to Dallas and hooks into I—20 which serves Shreveport. But the parts to me that are so compelling are the Valley to Houston, Valley to San Antonio.

  Mayor CARD. Congressman, I would like to respond to that and give some additional information to what Mayor Perez said.
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  Obviously we started working on this project about 3 years ago and we established what we called the 281/77 Coalition. Many up state and particularly in Washington, D.C. wondered why there was the need for the coalition in the promotion of both 281 and 77. It becomes obvious that if you are coming out of the Houston area, the power route is 77. If you are coming out of San Antonio, the power route is 281.

  Now what is so important to us is that you look at the infrastructure that joins this bridge going south. Mexico has spent a lot of money and effort in making sure that out of this bridge and out of the bridges in Hidalgo County, that the short route is to Monterrey, thence to Mexico City. But they are working mightily and if Governor Cavazos Lerma were here, I know that he would sit here and tell you that the emphasis is on the coastal route which runs out of Brownsville and the free trade bridge at Los Indios which you did not have the opportunity to see last night. And someone had mentioned we needed to emphasize bridges that are not in cosmopolitan areas. That bridge was put in 4 years ago because it is not in a cosmopolitan area and that route goes south to Ciudad Victoria, thence across the mountain range into Mexico City. And over the period of the next 10 to 25 years, and that is what we are all talking about, that route is going to receive a lot of emphasis in Mexico.

  So we have the dual need of both 77 and 281. Now it is a matter of funding, it is a matter of priority, it is a matter of cost efficient basis. How many route miles do we already have that are divided lane and six lanes in existence, as opposed to the crossover necessary for I—69.

  Mr. GEREN. The part from Houston to Shreveport again, if you were going to rate the relative importance of the here to San Antonio, here to Houston and then of course Houston and Dallas hooked up by 45, is that stretch hooking Houston to Shreveport equally important to you as hooking into I—45 into Dallas-Fort Worth and hooking into 281 to I—35?
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  Mayor CARD. It is absolutely vital that we get to Houston, but beyond that, no.

  Mr. GEREN. The Shreveport leg is not of particular significance?

  Mayor CARD. No, sir.

  Mr. SUMMERS. Mr. Congressman.

  Mr. GEREN. Yes, Mr. Summers.

  Mr. SUMMERS. I would like to comment that not too many years ago, the people in Houston and San Antonio did not realize how important we are to them because of our bridges. They thought--and I do not want to speak bad about anybody, but Laredo was the international trade route. But San Antonio and Houston realize how important we are and they need us to get our interstate fixed so we can get our goods to them so they can make money too.

  Mr. GEREN. I understand that. I think as a state, we have not done all we need to do for the Valley over the years, for a variety of reasons, some political, some--you talk about the King Ranch--and there are a lot of unmet infrastructure needs that we as a state must recognize and have to address unquestionably.

  Judge BORCHARD. As co-chairman of the 77/281 Coalition, the Coalition is on record together, both 281 and 77 on record saying they are both in favor of this project. So it is not one or the other, I think both are needed. The amount of traffic going to that area is--that is the recommendation.
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  Mayor PEREZ. I think it is clear on the Coalition's part that we endorse the Licklighter/Jamison study alternative 7 that has both routes 281 and 77. I was specifically addressing your concerns about San Antonio as it relates to 281 because I am a native of this specific area, the 281 area, and I would like to make reference to what Mayor Card spoke about with Mexico. One of the problems that I think historically we have had is that some of these agencies perhaps do not take into account the great importance that these northern Mexico markets have and the amount of traffic that they put on our highways. And I think it is an oversight by some agencies not to take into consideration that we have Monterrey just less than a couple of hours away from us, which is probably the largest industrialized city in Mexico and their population coupled with our population makes us well over 2.5 million people. So I think the need is there, I think the federal government has had a history of helping this area, it goes a long way back, back to when we were helped to harness the powers and the waters of the Rio Grande River and we had a network of canals made here in south Texas, and all of these crops that you see down here are irrigated from this river. But it was done with the assistance of the federal government back in the days of WPA. It was something that revolutionized the Valley. And with that came the railroads and the railroads gave us the ability to take our crops to the northern markets. And that really revolutionized this Valley.

  We think that I—69 can do the same thing, and that is why we come before you and advocate for I—69. I—69 can have the same impact that the railroads had in south Texas at the turn of the century, so we think it is critical that we be part of I—69.

  To answer the question about participation, I think that that has already been made clear. The City of McAllen gladly participated in the cost of expanding business expressway 83 from four lanes to six lanes by putting up at least 20 percent of the cost of the project. So we have a history, we have a record of participating with any innovative ways of making this thing work, and I think you will find that we will do anything that we can do within our power and within our economies to make sure that this area gets I—69.
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  Mr. GEREN. Let me just follow up. Mr. Card and Mr. Summers I think responded to this. But the stretch from Houston to Shreveport is not as important to this region as here to Houston and here to San Antonio, is that--the Shreveport leg, is that of great significance to you or is it more getting to Houston and getting to DFW and being in the interstate system?

  Mayor CARD. Again, Congressman--

  Mr. GEREN. Mayor Card responded that it is not as important.

  Mayor PEREZ. Well certainly maybe to us, because of our parochial needs, it may not be as important, but I think if you look at the idea of NAFTA and what NAFTA means, the whole I—69 project is what is important to us. We recognize that we are the front door to NAFTA and to make this thing work we are going to have to have the markets up north--Michigan and Canada and down south in Monterrey and Mexico City, Central America and South America.

  Mr. GEREN. Absolutely. Thank you. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

  Mr. PETRI. Representative Johnson.

  Ms. JOHNSON. I will just briefly ask a question. Before I ask the question though, I want to thank the people here who are hosting us, and especially to Kika. I do not know what I am going to do without him, he has been one of my best friends from Texas and gives me a lot of inspiration. I have not yet accepted the fact that he is leaving, but I know in reality that he is retiring and probably deserves to rest a little bit and enjoy some of the things that he has been able to achieve here in this area.
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  Naturally, the two of us live in the midst of I—35 and we see logically how you could hook into I—35, but you have given a very good justification for what you want. 77 is Interstate 35 and you have indicated that is very critical. Have you thought of a plan where you could hook more intricately into I—35? Because when you leave the state of Texas on I—35, you go through a lot more industrial and manufacturing states going than route than you do going 69. And I know that probably is not of a great deal of interest perhaps to you here in the Valley but it makes a lot more sense to us because it will hook into more states and areas that have a lot more to gain and a lot more to offer for that route.

  Mr. SUMMERS. I would just like to say all these places that are being discussed--Dallas-Fort Worth, Houston--they all have interstates, they have many interstates. We do not have one. All we want is one highway and we will do anything in the world you want us to do. We will come up there and hug you. We just need an interstate highway.

  Mayor PEREZ. Ms. Johnson, to answer more specifically the issue of which, I think for us here in this area of Hidalgo County, if you look at 281 and the direct route to San Antonio and Austin and Dallas-Fort Worth, that is an obvious question. But we are trying to look at the whole picture. We talk about Michigan and sometimes we think well what is in Michigan for us. Well we have Delnoso, which is Delco, which produces just about every electronic piece of equipment that goes in every GMC and Chevy vehicle in the United States, built right here a couple of miles away, or less than a couple of miles away. And that is very important to Michigan. So to try to categorize one over the other, I think would be, for us as elected officials, a little inappropriate. We are the elected officials, but we are not the statisticians that look at what is the economic impact of every specific route. And if you ask us locally; yes, our local markets within the state are very important but globally, I think Michigan and the end of I—69 is just as important to us, at least it will be within the next half a century.
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  Mayor CARD. Congresswoman, I would like to say something in direct response to your question. While we may not be statisticians, we have been working very close with those in TxDOT for the period of the last 2 or 3 years in this Coalition effort and I would like to again bring back to your attention my analogy of the hourglass. It is immaterial to us whether we are tying into I—35, I—37, I—69, I—10. There are numerous interstate highways into the northern part of the state and we do not have one into the Rio Grande Valley. And so what we are saying is that there is a major effort, both on I—35 and I—69 to become known as the NAFTA corridors. I happen to believe that both are necessary. It is a matter of priority in the allocation of funds and where that priority is going to go. But I cannot believe that the northeast of the United States tying in with Montreal and Canada, that it does not have equal importance of the goods and services that are traveling south of us, or from south to the north.

  So again to agree with Mayor Perez, you know, we are just looking for an interstate. You might want to call it I—1001 and that will make us happy.

  Ms. JOHNSON. Thank you.

  Mr. SUMMERS. I would like to make one comment also. You know, this is a tourist destination. But if you look at a Rand McNally tourist map, it does not show a highway to the Rio Grande Valley because it only shows the interstate highways, so it looks like it stops at Corpus Christi, but the world does not stop at Corpus Christi. We have got a lot to offer here.

  Judge BORCHARD. Just to follow up. When you do not have one, anything you can get, whether you call it any number, is appropriate. So it is important that the cost/benefit ratio--because we are talking about public/private funding entering into this formula, the cost/benefit ratio is important from your perspective and our perspective. So it is important that the south Texas Rio Grande Valley needs an interstate. That is the issue.
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  Mayor PEREZ. I should also echo what Mr. Summers said, that tourism is very important to us. In the City of Mission, we practically double in population within the winter months, for a period of about six months we go from about 38,000 to 70 something thousand people in Mission. Most of them are big ten states--Michigan, Wisconsin, all the midwest. So certainly I—69 would facilitate they getting down here traveling a much safer route on I—69 than having to travel the routes as they exist today.

  Ms. JOHNSON. Thank you very much.

  Mayor CARD. One last point and that is I keep talking about our two MSAs. If you took the entire Rio Grande Valley during the period of October to March of each and every year, our population increases conservatively over 200,000 to 300,000 winter Texans.

  Mr. PETRI. Thousands of them are from Wisconsin and they agree the world does not end at Corpus Christi because they get down to the Brownsville-McAllen area.

  Mr. SUMMERS. We need interstate highways for safety purposes, they drive kind of slow.

  Mr. PETRI. I had one question particularly for the elected officials here. And it is similar to the question I asked of the last panel. And that was, Mayor Card, you used the hourglass image and spoke of bottlenecks, one of them being lack of infrastructure but also another being lack of adequately staffing the infrastructure we have so we could use it to ease the bottlenecks. However, do you give any credence to the argument that a lot of congestion is due to outdated procedures that badly need to be streamlined or elimated? What, if anything, can we do to help solve it. Or is that something to be left for another day?
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  Mayor CARD. Congressman, I understand implicit in your question with regard to problems that we may have along the border, I would like to say that if you read the Wall Street Journal and only the Wall Street Journal, you would believe that we have many of these socio-economic problems along the border. I believe that the problems that are experienced in the state of California far exceed what we are experiencing all the way from El Paso, Texas to Brownsville, Texas. Now that does not mean to say that from time to time we have small problems with our neighbors to the south. One problem to be addressed, and is being addressed at the present time is the permission of the Mexican truckers to go beyond this immediate area on into the state of Texas and beyond. And that is being worked out at the state and federal level and we would hope that the rules and regulations have been so modified that it is going to accommodate both the Mexican truckers and still meet the standards for safety in the United States, which we demand of all of our trucks and all of our vehicles.

  I do not believe that we have a problem in this area of the country of the magnitude that you read about or hear about in the media. From time to time there is a small problem that crops up, but it is immediately addressed and it is handled within a matter of 24 to 48 hours at the most. So it is not a major problem.

  We do have growing pains with NAFTA. As you know in Washington, there are a number of regulations that were negotiated that need to be fine-tuned and everybody is working on that fine tuning. It is not a major problem in this area, Congressman.

  Mayor PEREZ. Congressman, if you were asking about the structural facilities versus the manpower and how it relates to the ability of people to cross--
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  Mr. PETRI. I was asking more about the broker problem or licensing problem diverting trucks to different American States, plus the special arrangements that have to be made at the border preventing backhauls. We have to screen things at the border rather than having prescreening within Mexico or many miles from the border and using modern electronics or bar codes to expedite traffic. For example, we have one bridge between Detroit and Windsor, Canada that handles more traffic every day, with no delays to speak of most of the time, than cross this whole border. So it can be done and so it is not only a question of building roads and bridges, it is a question of working out arrangements so that things are checked and cleared before they get to the border in a way that reduces cost and delay and makes it more profitable for people on both sides of the border to do business across it.

  I just wonder if you would agree with that assessment?

  Mayor PEREZ. We have looked at that in the Mission-McAllen-Hidalgo area fairly extensively. We are in the process of trying to get a permit to establish a new bridge, basically a bridge driven by market demands. And one of the things that we have looked at very strongly is just having like x-ray equipment whereby it can facilitate the movement of these big semis across the bridge and not really tie up things. So we are looking at taking advantage of the new technologies we have to facilitate the ability to cross. So I think that is an obvious thing that all of us have to do and we have to work in conjunction with Mexico to be able to do that.

  Mayor CARD. We have working groups that are working on that every day, every week, Congressman.

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  Mr. PETRI. Any other questions?

  [No response.]

  Mr. PETRI. If not, we thank you very much for your testimony. We appreciate your being here. We would like to again thank Kika de la Garza, a man who is a giant in the Congress and who brought us all here, and all of the others who helped make this hearing possible.

  Thank you very much and the hearing is adjourned.

  [Whereupon, at 10:36 a.m., the Subcommittee was adjourned.]

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