San Antonio – A study released by the Texas Public Policy Foundation (TPPF) shows Texas has received a disproportionately small amount of federal funding for border infrastructure needs while NAFTA fueled traffic congestion and air pollution has skyrocketed along Texas border cities.
In relation to traffic volume, Texas has received 1/34th what New Mexico has received for border infrastructure improvements. Additionally, Texas has spent much more of its own money on border infrastructure than other states. The study entitled, The Road Ahead: Innovations for Better Transportation in Texas (available at http://www.texaspolicy.com) points to under-staffing by federal agencies on border crossings, lack of automation, redundant inspection practices and poor cooperation with border authorities in Mexico. According to these findings, the current rate of border transportation infrastructure development will not meet the needs of future trade expansion and population growth.
According to study co-author Wendell Cox, “expecting border states or communities to finance border infrastructure is akin to requiring border states to finance the border patrol and immigration service, or making Alaska finance defense activities within the state during the Cold War. The incremental costs of border activities should be paid for by the nation as a whole.”
Outside of prompting a fair distribution of federal funds, the study offers solution strategies that include establishment of a Border Futures Commission that would develop finance plans based upon projected infrastructure needs, create border crossing performance objectives with Mexican authorities and investigate “user financing” alternatives. In addition, the study recommends specific infrastructure projects, such as widening of heavily traveled trade corridors like U.S Route 57.
Other key findings include:
- Approximately 80 percent of truck and rail traffic between the United States and Mexico travels through Texas ports of entry. NAFTA has brought at least a 50 percent increase in truck traffic along the Texas border and a doubling of rail traffic.
- 18.9 percent of Texas highway mileage, carry almost 90 percent of all NAFTA traffic in Texas, with IH-35 alone accounting for 31.6 percent of this total.
- Texas, with 79 percent of the U.S.-Mexico border crossings, received only 26 percent of the federal Coordinated Border Infrastructure Program grant funding.
- 79 Percent of all U.S.- Mexico trucks crossed the border at Texas Ports of Entry.
The study, The Road Ahead: Innovative Transportation Financing Options for Texas, was conducted by Wendell Cox, Senior Fellow, TPPF and Tom Rubin, former Chief Financial Officer for the Southern California Rapid Transit District. Both authors are senior fellows with the Texas Public Policy Foundation.