The Texas House of Representatives passed a bill that would create an “overweight corridor” at the U.S./Mexico border, and the Texas Senate is likely to vote on it in the first half of May, said Bret Erickson, president of the Mission-based Texas International Produce Association.
The proposed corridor, from the Anzalduas Bridge to the Pharr/Reynosa Bridge, would be an area where Mexican trucks carrying fresh produce would be able to enter the U.S. even if they were overweight. Trucks would then offload their extra weight at a U.S. cold storage unit, Erickson said.
Under current law, a Mexican truck carrying produce that weighs too much faces a stiff fine if it crosses into the U.S., Erickson said.
As a result, trucks are weighed on the Mexican side of the border, and extra product is typically offloaded there if the truck weighs too much.
Erickson said that slows truck movement at the border and exposes perishable merchandise while it waits for another truck to pick it up.
Under the proposed law, trucks that were overweight would be charged a fee — much smaller than the current fine, Erickson said — then allowed to proceed to a cold storage facility in the overweight zone’s boundaries.
Arizona has such a law, Erickson said, and it would benefit Texas to have one.
“It sends a good message to our neighbors south of the border that we want to get and retain their business, and to keep our region competitive.”
Money from the overweight fees would be used to maintain the roads that will be carrying the heavier loads, Erickson said.
The association met the week of April 22 with Texas importers to gauge support for an overweight corridor. Erickson said that even those whose cold storage facilities weren’t within the designated area for offloading were in favor of it.
“We thought there would be more pushback — ‘Why am I not on there?’” he said. “But they told us it makes the region more competitive.”