NAFTA Highway - History in Bulletins
Compiled by D. Niwa


The following is a compiled edition of news from NAFTA Monitor bulletins (1994 to 1999; produced by the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy)  ...HIGHLY recommended reading.

The bulletins contain information -- related to "free trade" in North, Central, and South America -- that cover:

regional integration, outsourcing, illegal immigration, privatization, monopolies, labor exploitation, fast-track trade authority, trade disputes, transportation, agriculture, environment, bio-diversity, maquiladoras, genetically modified foods, intellectual property rights, "sustainable development," trade blocs, summits, currency devaluation, national debt, drug trafficking, layoffs, poverty, inflation, corruption, trade blocs/pacts, Codex Alimentarius, WTO, European Union, World Bank, IMF, and more.

The entire compilation of bulletins has been placed in a pdf for easy reading, printing and sharing.   NAFTA Monitor Bulletins  (pdf format)

Highlights Pertaining to the NAFTA Superhighway

[All entries from the NAFTA & Inter-American Trade Monitor]

April 28,1995 Volume 2, Number 13
-- see pdf page 53:

    A Texas coalition, the Interstate Highway 35 Corridor Coalition, is lobbying to get I-35, which runs from Minneapolis, MN to Laredo, TX extended into Mexico as the "NAFTA Superhighway." According to the Coalition, 80 percent of international trade enters Mexico by truck, with half of the amount passing through Laredo.

    The group calls for major road improvements and new processes to speed up customs inspections, tax collection, and toll payments. David Dean, head of the Coalition, describes the plan:

    "The idea is that a truck in Monterrey, bound for Chicago or Winnipeg or wherever, goes into the interior [customs] station in Monterrey. Customs officials from all three countries could inspect the cargo, seal the container, weigh the truck, check emissions controls, immigration papers, insurance, safety standards. The truck files a route plan, a bar code is affixed to its side or a satellite transmitter is put on top; all taxes, tariffs, duties, overweight charges of every description encountered along that route are pre-paid by the trucking concern. A smart-card with a computer chip is encrypted into the vehicle and the truck then enters the Nafta superhighway system in Mexico." According to Dean, the truck could then proceed through express lanes for inspections and customs, avoiding lines of100 trucks and delays of up to 48 hours that increase costs at present.

"Keep on Truckin'," EL FINANCIERO, 4/3-9/95.
[NOTE: EL FINACIERO is a newspaper in Mexico]

January 12,1996 Volume 3, Number 1
Located in attached pdf -- see page 80:
NAFTA & Inter-American Trade Monitor

   On December 18, U.S. Secretary of Transportation Federico Pena announced a 45-day delay in implementation of the NAFTA provision allowing Mexican truckers free access to the highways of Texas, California, Arizona and New Mexico, and allowing U.S. truckers into Mexican border states. Fearing foreign competition, both U.S. and Mexican truckers had asked for the delay, and Pena initially said that the delay was acceptable to the Mexican government. However, Mexican officials filed a complaint alleging U.S. violation of NAFTA.

    Secretary Pena claimed safety concerns were the reason for his action, which was supported by Texas Republican Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison. Texas Republican Governor George W. Bush and Texas Democratic Attorney General Dan Morales maintain that Texas has already taken steps to ensure highway safety, and that the federal action is merely an attempt to solidify union support for President Bill Clinton's 1996 campaign. A coalition of consumer groups and Teamsters alleged that trucks crossing the border within the current 17-mile limit have already been found with 16-year-old drivers, bald tires, and improperly packaged toxic cargo.

    Earlier in December, Mexican officials had ordered strict enforcement of limits on the use of longer trailers that are more often used by U.S. and Canadian truckers. In a related move, U.S. Customs officials began accepting applications for expedited cargo clearance for short cross-border hauls, conditioned on agreement to a comprehensive anti-drug plan that requires background checks on drivers, secure premises and crime awareness training.

Kevin G. Hall, "Mexico Protests Border Action," JOURNAL OF COMMERCE, December 20, 1995; "U.S., Mexico Work to End NAFTA Trucking Provision," COX NEWS SERVICE, December 21, 1995; Kevin G. Hall, "Mexico Curbs Use of Longer Trailers," JOURNAL OF COMMERCE, December 12, 1995; Kevin G. Hall, "Border Clearance Sign-Ups Set Today," JOURNAL OF COMMERCE, January 2, 1996; Debra Beachy, "U.S. Halts Expansion of NAFTA Trucking," HOUSTON CHRONICLE, December 19, 1995.
Friday, March 22,1996 Volume 3,Number 6
Located in attached pdf -- see page 89:

     As truck back-ups at Texas-Mexico border crossings continue, the I-35 Coalition continues to push for development of a "smart highway" that would eliminate the need for most truck inspections at the border. The I-35 highway, running from Laredo, Texas almost to the Canadian border at Duluth, Minnesota, together with the I-29 highway, which branches off at Kansas City, Missouri to the northwest to Canada are the most traveled direct trade routes among the three NAFTA nations.

    "Smart highway" planners, including Interdex, the U.S. Treasury Department's new International Trade Data Exchange, are exploring ways to use existing technology to speed traffic between Mexico City, Dallas, and Toronto. Railroads already use electronically readable tags attached to rail cars and read by trackside readers that send the information along telephone or fiber-optic lines. Similar technology could be applied to trucks. Inspections, including weighing and sealing of the contents, could take place at "inland ports of compliance," such as Kansas City or Toronto     A fiber-optic network of sensors laid down the middle of the highway right-of-way would assess tolls and fees along the way.

    Trucks crossing the Texas-Mexico border now encounter 8-48 hour back-ups. The American Trucking Association estimates costs as high as $1.20 per minute or $1700 for a 24-hour delay. If a "smart highway" were implemented, trucks inspected and sealed at inland ports of compliance would bypass the border wait, stopping only if randomly or selectively chosen for manual inspection.

Ted Landphair, "Smart NAFTA Superhighway," VOICE OF AMERICA, March 12, 1996.
September 6,1996 Volume 3, Number 17
Located in attached pdf -- see page 107:

    The former I-35 Corridor Coalition, now called North America's Superhighway Coalition, met in Monterrey, Mexico, in early August to promote designation of Interstate 35, which runs 1,500 miles from Duluth, Minnesota to Laredo, Texas, as the North American Free Trade Agreement's principal trade corridor. Texas, Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma and Iowa back the designation, and a marketing drive to locate or relocate companies along the superhighway is expected. Craig Schoenfeld, a research analyst for Iowa House Republicans, called the coalition "a marketing tool for industry and business," which could bring lower-cost assembly business to Iowa.

    U.S. Assistant Deputy Secretary of the Treasury John Simpson, speaking to the I-35 coalition in Monterrey, harshly criticized the Mexican system of licensed customs brokers, saying that they warehouse and delay shipments for several days. Simpson urged Mexico to make full use of the North American Trade Automation Prototype (NATAP), which will provide electronic pre-clearance for cargo, drivers, payment of duties and verification of transport requirements, beginning on a trial basis in September.

     The Northern Plains I-29 Coalition
is pushing for a network of fiber optic cables along this highway to track trucks and clear up congestion at U.S. borders with both Canada and Mexico. The I-29 corridor group says that I-29, which meets I-35 in Kansas City, MO, has seen 25 percent higher truck traffic since passage of NAFTA. I-29 is one of four interstate crossing points into Canada.

    Mexican truckers protesting alleged U.S. Customs delays in inspecting their cargo blockaded the busy Laredo crossing in mid-August in their third protest of the summer. "I'm sick of the problems, but people here are just sick of being pushed around," said Mexican trucking executive Roberto Quintanilla. U.S. Customs wants to move some traffic to an underused bridge 18 miles west of the Laredo crossing, but Mexican truckers say the roads to that bridge are bad. Many customs brokers are licensed in Tamaulipas, where the downtown bridge connects Mexico and Laredo, but not in the state of Nuevo Lesn, where the other bridge is. Mexican truckers are also angry about Operation Hard Line, a U.S. drug interdiction program, saying its increased inspections slow traffic unreasonably.


Kevin G. Hall, "Superhighway Coalition Blazes Noticeable Trail," JOURNAL OF COMMERCE, August 7, 1996; "Interstate 29 Could Be International Trade Corridor," FARM & RANCH, August 2, 1996; Kevin G. Hall, "U.S. Slams Mexican Customs System," JOURNAL OF COMMERCE, August 7, 1996; Peter Fritsch and David D. Kirkpatrick, "Free Trade Hits Blockade on Texas Bridge," WALL STREET JOURNAL, August 23, 1996; Gregory S. Johnson, "Mexican Truckers Blockade Crossing," JOURNAL OF COMMERCE, August 16, 1996.
February 21,1997 Volume 4,No.4
Located in attached pdf -- see page 124:

    After more than a year of delay, the Clinton Administration appears close to opening U.S. border states to Mexican trucking companies. While some press reports predicted a February announcement, others speculated that the opening may come during President Clinton's April visit to Mexico.

    The prospect pleases officials of the American Trucking Association and worries truckers on both sides of the border, as well as many consumer and labor groups in the United States. "This will hurt highway safety and put U. S. trucking companies in the position where they can exploit the low wages of Mexican truck drivers," said Steve Trossman of the Teamsters Union.

    The California Trucking Association, representing trucking companies, said U.S. truckers were missing out on hundreds of loads that moved between the Los Angeles-Long Beach port and the maquiladora manufacturing plants in northern Mexico. Under the current arrangement, U.S. truckers take the containers of components shipped from Asia to zones along the California-Mexico border, where Mexican truckers pick them up and take them to the maquiladoras. Texas A&M International University Professor James Giermanski said the drayage business, which now employs 5,000 people in ferrying goods from Mexican trucks on one side of the border to U.S. trucks on the other, will end when borders open.

Under NAFTA, the U.S. and Mexican governments agreed to allow truckers to drive in border states by January 1996 and throughout each country by 2000. An estimated 80 percent to 85 percent of cargo between the United States and Mexico travels by highway.

    California has opened inspection stations for Mexican trucks, and says that Mexican trucks have about the same inspection failure rate as U.S. trucks. "They send only good equipment and their best drivers," reports Ron Hoffman, state director in Southern California for the Federal Highway Administration's Office of Motor Carriers, adding that Mexican carriers find it cheaper to invest in modern equipment than to pay stiff fines and penalties. Differing national trucking regulations, such as Mexico's ban on 53-foot trailers, remain to be resolved.


Tim Shorrock & Chris Isidore, "Mexican Trucks Gain U.S. Access," JOURNAL OF COMMERCE, January 29, 1997; Bill Mongelluzzo, "California Truckers Seek NAFTA Action," JOURNAL OF COMMERCE, February 4, 1997; Timna Tanners, "U.S., Mexico Truckers Wary of Border Opening," REUTER, February 5, 1997; "Clinton to Visit Mexico, Latin America," REUTER, February 5, 1997.
Vol.5, Number 19 October 9,1998
Located in attached pdf -- see page 193:

   On September 22, Mexico took the final step in its trucking dispute with the United States, requesting appointment of a dispute resolution panel under the provisions of NAFTA. The request came after expiration of the 30-day period for consultations among senior NAFTA officials.

NAFTA provides for the United States, Canada and Mexico to open their borders to commercial truck traffic in border states, beginning December 18, 1995. The United States refused to open its border, citing truck safety concerns, and still has not agreed to comply with the NAFTA provision, despite a lengthy series of government to government meetings.

       Though the border has not opened yet, Texas is seeing growing truck traffic attributable to NAFTA, and is experiencing deteriorating roadways and bridges as a result. U.S. Senators Phil Gramm and Kay Bailey Hutchinson from Texas have succeeded in including a $700 million appropriation for states along the Mexican and Canadian borders and high-priority trade corridors in the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st century. The appropriation, spread over five years, will not compensate for all the increased traffic, since the Act would distribute $140 million per year over the whole country. The cost of a concrete four-lane highway in Texas is $1.3 million per mile.

"Mexico Calls for NAFTA Dispute Panel in Trucking Dispute With U.S.," INSIDE US TRADE, September 28, 1998; "Texas Deserves Federal Transportation Funds," AUSTIN AMERICAN-STATESMAN, September 18, 1998; Mary Sutter, "Mexico Asks Arbitration to Force Open Border," JOURNAL OF COMMERCE, September 24, 1998.
Vol.6,Number 6
June 11,1999
Located in attached pdf -- see page 207:

       As NAFTA trade ministers approved 15 panelists for the roster hearing state-to-state dispute settlements, sources indicated that the cross-border truck and bus dispute between the United States and Mexico could soon come before a panel. The United States refused to comply with NAFTA provisions mandating the beginning of limited cross-border trucking in December 1995. The provision was to apply only to border states, with full national access to begin in 2000.

    The United States bases objections to the entry of Mexican truckers on safety concerns. Half of Mexican trucks entering the United States fail spot safety inspections, and lack of inspectors will preclude detailed checks of increased truck traffic. Now that so much time has elapsed, any solution to the December 1995 dispute will most likely also encompass the January 1, 2000 border opening.

    The United States and Canada have had reciprocal trucking agreements in force for more than a decade. About 6 million Canadian trucks enter the United States each year.

    U.S. House Representatives Merrill Cook (R- UT) and Collin Peterson (D-MN) recently introduced legislation in the U.S. Congress to allow truck weights to increase from 80,000 to 97,000. The amount of freight shipped by truck, by weight, within the United States has increased 45 percent since 1990.

"More Access for Mexican Truckers," CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, April 26, 1999; Rip Watson, "House Bill Proposes Putting Heftier Trucks on Nation's Highways," JOURNAL OF COMMERCE, May 7, 1999; Ron Edwards, "Keep on Truckin' south of the Border," WORLD TRADE, May 1999; "Roster Named for NAFTA State Disputes; Paves Way for Trucking Case," INSIDE US TRADE, May 21, 1999.
Vol. 6, Number 11    November 5, 1999
Located in attached pdf -- see page 216:


"I have a hunch that the Latin American trade highways are intended to eventually link with the NAFTA highways"


    Two major highway projects are expected to promote and facilitate intra-American trade during the coming decade. In the first, the Chilean government is investing more than $8 million in development of highways that link its Pacific ports with the Atlantic coasts of Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay. The project will include construction of a port complex at Mejillones, a former fishing village 65 km north of Antofagasta.

    The Mejillones port will facilitate exports to Asia for Chile, Brazil, and Paraguay. In the other direction, the highway system will open access to the Atlantic coast and routes to export merchandise to other Mercosur countries and to the European Union.

    In Central America, a planned 5,600 km. highway costing more than a billion dollars will be known as the Central American Logistical Corridor. The proposed highway will link shipping ports, airports, national capitals and other large cities throughout the isthmus, and will link the Atlantic and Pacific coasts. The first phase will construct a 1,700 km highway linking the Guatemalan city of Tecún Umán with Panama City. A second stage will add new sections connecting major cities to the Pan-American Highway. The third and fourth phases will construct a 1,350 km Atlantic Corridor and an 1,100 km Inter-Oceanic Corridor.

    All of the planned highway construction is planned to be complete by 2005.

Nófer Muñoz, "The Integration Highway," INTERPRESS SERVICE, September 29, 1999; Gustavo Gutierrez, "Chile Launches New Atlantic-Pacific Land Route," INTERPRESS SERVICE, October 25, 1999.
Find editions of the "NAFTA & Inter-American Trade Monitor" online here:

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Vol. 3-6: