Borderlands: Laredo road ranks third for truck congestion in Texas; truck production in Mexico rises 19.8%

Borderlands is a weekly rundown of developments in the world of United States-Mexico cross-border trucking and trade. This week: Laredo road ranked No. 3 for truck congestion in Texas; U.S.-Mexico border to get more X-ray scanners; truck production in Mexico rises 19.8%; and Nuevo Laredo is the top customs district in Mexico.

Laredo road ranks third for truck congestion in Texas

Laredo’s Bob Bullock Loop (also known as Loop 20) is the third-worst road in the state of Texas when it comes to truck congestion, according to an annual traffic study by the Texas A&M Transportation Institute.

The traffic delays on Loop 20 cost truck drivers an estimated $11.3 million and caused more than 267,000 gallons of excess fuel to be used, the study said.

“Road segments plagued by the greatest truck congestion are found in Austin, Houston and on the U.S.-Mexico border near Laredo,” the Texas A&M Transportation Institute said in a release. “Truck congestion is a significant part of most Laredo corridors.”

The study reported that congestion on Texas roadways cost the trucking industry $1.6 billion in 2019. Truck congestion costs are defined as “the yearly value of wasted time and other operating costs of large trucks and the extra diesel consumed associated with congestion.”

Interstate 35 in central Austin was the top-ranked truck-congested roadway in Texas, costing drivers an estimated $38.4 million. 

Eastex Freeway in the Houston area was No. 2 for truck congestion, costing truck drivers $10 million. Rounding out the top five were the Katy Freeway on I-10 west of Houston ($11 million) and portions of the Gulf Freeway in southeast Houston ($23.9 million).

Laredo also had four other roads among the top 100 most truck-congested routes in Texas: Mines Road (60th), Milo Road (68th), Saunders Street (81st) and Mann Road (96th).

US-Mexico border crossings to get more high-tech inspection devices 

Viken Detection of Burlington, Massachusetts, will install four undercarriage X-ray scanners known as Osprey-UVX at two South Texas land ports of entry as part of a contract with U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP).

Viken did not specify which Texas ports would be receiving the Osprey X-ray scanners, but the company is already providing handheld X-ray scanners (known as the HBI-120) to CBP and to various law enforcement agencies.

The new Osprey X-ray system reportedly can provide real-time imaging for under-vehicle inspection, including compartments and spaces beneath the occupants, for passenger and commercial vehicles.

“Together Viken’s HBI-120 and Osprey-UVX represent a powerful combination in the fight against drug and human trafficking and terrorism that targets critical infrastructure,” Viken CEO Jim Ryan said in a release. “Instead of solely relying on camera-based systems or canine teams, law enforcement and security professionals can actually ‘see through’ an entire vehicle in under a minute to safely make fast and accurate threat assessments.”

Viken officials did not specify how much the Osprey contract with the CBP was worth. CBP awarded a $28.8 million contract last October to Viken Detection for the HBI-120 scanners.

Truck production in Mexico reaches highest level in five years 

From January through October, 175,822 trucks and tractors were produced in Mexico, 19.8% more than during the same period in 2018, according to Mexico’s National Association of Producers of Buses, Trucks and Tractors (ANPACT).

The increase was mainly due to foreign demand, with 147,755 trucks exported in the first 10 months of the year, ANPACT officials said.

“The increase in cumulative export figures reflects the export potential of the Mexican heavy-vehicle industry; 2019 has been a year of positive results for production and export of the automotive heavy-industry Mexican,” ANPACT President Miguel Elizalde said, according to news outlet La Jornada. “However, the challenge continues in regulatory matters so that the trucks we produce and export also remain in our territory, generating environmental benefits for Mexicans. ”

In October alone, 17,391 units were assembled in Mexico, 2.7% higher than the same period in 2018. Mexican manufacturers also exported 14,573 trucks in October, 9.6% higher than the same time last year. Truck production in Mexico has reached its highest level in five years. 

ANPACT represents many of the leading manufacturers of commercial vehicles and diesel engines in Mexico, including Freightliner, Hino Motors, Isuzu, Kenworth Trucks, Mack Trucks, Mercedes-Benz, Scania, Volkswagen, Volvo, Cummins and Detroit Diesel.

Nuevo Laredo tops for cross-border trade

For the first 11 months of the year, Nuevo Laredo was the No. 1 Mexican port for cross-border trade, collecting $578.4 million in customs taxes, according to data from Mexico’s General Customs Administration reported in news outlet El Diario.

Nuevo Laredo is directly across the U.S.-Mexico border from Laredo, Texas. An estimated 12,000 trucks per day cross in both directions between the two cities and carry freight of all kinds.

Also making the list was Ciudad Juarez, which sits across the border from El Paso. Juarez accounted for $335 million in customs taxes collected from cross-border trade from January through November 2019.