Thursday, January 11, 2007

“I believe everybody needs to be informed of the potential this trade corridor has for the next 10, 15, 20 years because it is coming.”

La Entrada project moves forward

600K trucks a year enter U.S. through El Paso port of entry


Odessa American
Copyright 2007

Acclaimed economist Ray Perryman, Mexican businessmen and area officials were extolling the need to develop the La Entrada al Pacifico Trade Route as a crowd of 190 government officials, transportation executives and others listened Wednesday at the third annual corridor conference.

“For civilization to survive, there has to be transportation,” Perryman told the attentive crowd at Odessa’s MCM Eleganté Hotel. “Transportation is critically important to the future; trade is critically important to our future.”

The conference focused on the budgetary, economic and environmental challenges to completing the trade route from Topolobampo, Sinaloa, Mexico, to Odessa, Midland, and points north.

In 2006, MOTRAN got $13.5 million in funding from the Texas Transportation Commission — $10 million for a State Highway 349 reliever route and $3.5 million for a JBS Overpass in Odessa. Later in 2006, MOTRAN got another $1.25 million in federal funding to expand Highway 67 and $810,000 to plan a relief route in Marfa.

Brian Swindell, senior project manager/engineer with HDR Engineering Inc. of Dallas, gave an overview of the La Entrada al Pacifico feasibility study, telling the crowd, “We want to make sure the corridor we come up with is a viable corridor.”

Public meetings on the Corridor Development Plan are scheduled for March and July this year and January 2008, Swindell said.

The wide-ranging study will include a corridor analysis, economic analysis, determining drivers of the economy as well as analyzing Texas issues and the impact of Mexico opportunities.

Manuel Alderete, a chemical engineer who is founder and president of Alderete y Socios Consultoria Industrial in Chihuahua, Mexico, said there are plenty of opportunities. Alderete said La Entrada is justified because of the trade and regional economic development it can bring to not only the states of Sinaloa and Chihuahua, Mexico, but also to the State of Texas.

“The conclusion is that it is really important,” Alderete said. Perryman echoed that, adding that there is about a 30 percent rate of return on transportation projected like La Entrada.

Armando Miguel Correa Nunez, part owner and general manager of the CAT Rental Service in Chihuahua City, Chihuahua, Mexico, said the trade corridor is important because of goods that can be moved from China to Dallas-Fort Worth for distribution throughout the United States in much less time.

He noted that Mexico now has preferential access to 930 million consumers in 44 countries and that the metropolitan area of El Paso-Juarez is now the third-largest manufacturing center in North America.

He said 600,000 trucks a year enter the United States through the El Paso port of entry.

“We need the trains, we need the highways, we need to bring the goods in to Mexico from Asia and into Odessa and Midland,” he said.

A research economist from the Real Estate Center at Texas A&M University at College Station, Harold Hunt, said the MOTRAN Conference is an excellent forum at which to gain insight into what is occurring in this area.

“It helps me stay in touch with what is going on in West Texas,” Hunt said, noting he has attended previous conferences.

McCamey Mayor Sherry Phillips, who was also in attendance Wednesday, said she has been involved with the La Entrada conferences for years.

“I believe everybody needs to be informed of the potential this trade corridor has for the next 10, 15, 20 years because it is coming,” she said.

“The possibilities are really exciting,” Phillips added. “It’s up to us to take advantage of this opportunity.”

© 2007 The The Odessa American: