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Joint Working Committee logo, flag of U.S., flag of Mexico

U.S. - Mexico Joint Working Committee
on Transportation Planning


Tricia Harr
Team Leader, Border & Interstate Planning Team
Federal Highway Administration (FHWA)
(202) 366-9214

Sylvia Grijalva
U.S. - Mexico Border Planning Coordinator
(602) 510-7986

Biennial Work Plan 2003-2005

Innovative Finance Mechanisms

The objectives of this work plan task are to:

First an inventory of existing financing tools available from U.S. Department of Transportation, Secretaria de Comunicaciones y Transportes (SCT), individual U.S. states and municipalities, individual Mexican states and municipalities, binational agencies (such as North American Development Bank), international agencies (such as World Bank and Export/Import Bank), financing and banking organizations in the U.S. and Mexico, and private sector firms has been developed. Second, these tools were evaluated regarding their usefulness in financing specific types of trans-border projects, including highway access projects as well as the projects within the actual POE facilities.

Then written criteria for selecting pilot project(s) was developed where innovative financing techniques can be quickly applied. These criteria were developed in consultation with representatives from the U.S. and Mexican public finance communities, and will were reviewed and approved by the JWC.

Next steps include, Develop draft finance plan, including sources and uses of funds, potential repayment sources for loans, and timing of funds flows, for pilot project selected by JWC (or on other qualified projects such as the Nogales Free and Secure Trade (FAST) lane). Requirements will be identified of each financing/lending program that project sponsor(s) must meet. Draft finance plan will be delivered to JWC, whereupon the JWC and project sponsor(s) will take further action.

Currently, a pilot one-day border financing workshop is being developed targeted to Mexico/U.S. state and local government units in border region. The workshop will include sections describing conventional and innovative financing mechanisms. Workshop materials will be tailored to meet needs of participants and hosting jurisdictions.

Transportation Infrastructure and Traffic Management Analysis of Cross Border Bottlenecks

The JWC requested that a study be developed which identified, and quantified short-term and low cost needs to solve road infrastructure and traffic management bottlenecks impacting the efficient cross-border movements of people and goods across the U.S. - Mexico ports of entry (POEs). The need for the study stemmed from an identified task in the U.S. - Mexico Border Partnership Agreement. This study developed a methodology for addressing transportation bottlenecks as they exclusively relate to road infrastructure and traffic management operations at land international POEs: including only roads approaching POEs, access and exit points to POEs, and in the case of commercial POEs, routes between U.S. and Mexico sister commercial inspection facilities (nothing within the federal compound). The methodology is applicable to commercial, passenger, transit, pedestrian, and bicycle modes of transportation. Two pilot studies were conducted in the California/Baja California area. This methodology developed is applicable for use in future studies along the border. The study has been completed, and the JWC has accepted the study and methodology for use border-wide.

GIS Training Program

The objective is to enhance the knowledge of the Binational Border States about the benefits and uses of GIS through education and the use of the U.S. - Mexico Border GIS applications. Various training courses will be developed including the following:

  • What is GIS? a half-day seminar on GIS for both decision-makers and practitioners. This seminar would provide an overall of what is GIS and how can it be used, including examples of specific transportation application case studies. This road show can be presented at individual state locations.
  • Seminar on GIS for Transportation: a 3-day seminar on the U.S. - Mexico Border GIS applications that will include an introduction on how GIS can be used in transportation. This would be a classroom course.
  • BGIS Application course: a hands-on technical training course on the application of the U.S. - Mexico Border GIS.
  • ArcGIS I: this technical training is a 2-day, ArcGIS certified course. The target audience is technical staff who will conduct analysis or need software training. This course covers fundamental GIS Concepts as well as how to create, edit, and work with geo-referenced spatial data.
  • ArcGIS II: this course is an advanced technical 3-day training course. The Arc GIS I is a pre-requisite for attending this course. This course continues to present important concepts and functionality. Students will gain the ability to perform spatial analysis and manage geographic data.

Now that courses have been identified, a determination will be made on which courses to pilot in the field.

Analysis of Coordination Systems at POEs Pilot Project

This pilot project builds upon the completion of Phase 1 and 2 of the study to identify shortcomings in coordination at U.S - Mexico ports of entry and recommend alternatives to improve operations and reduce congestion and (Phase 1 identified key coordination issues and Phase 2 developed candidate alternatives to reduce congestion and delay.) The objective of Phase 3-the Pilot Project is to develop, implement and evaluate the effectiveness and impacts of implementing selected alternatives to address coordination shortcomings among border stakeholders.

This objective will be achieved through a multi-step process including interactive multi-stakeholder workshops to develop and implement local priorities, in order to develop border coordination improvement strategies. Phase 3 is completed for the Mexican side (with pilots at Ciudad Juárez and Otay Mesa) and is underway for the U.S. side. The consultant in Texas has conducted the private stakeholder meeting and is summarizing results to develop an implementation plan for Phase 4. Analysis of successful and unsuccessful workshop elements will then be undertaken in Phase 4, with a view to developing a coordination improvement process that can be exported to other border crossings. Once completed, the results will not only benefit the El Paso - Ciudad Juárez POEs, but also provide a field-tested process that would be readily adaptable to other commercial crossings.

Otay Mesa FAST Lane Project

The objective of the project was to deploy a regional freight management system utilizing proven Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) technologies and standards for the efficient movement of trade through the international border, including electronic:

  • Data interchange and credentials
  • Positive identification of vehicles, containers, and drivers
  • Monitoring the security of preprocessed containers
  • Monitoring of the movement of vehicles, drivers, and cargo throughout the government facility
  • Pre-processing of required border crossing credentials
  • Screening of low risk, safe and legal cargo, vehicles, and drivers ("safe and legal" is defined by records of compliance with national and regional inspections and credentialing requirements)
  • Reduction of congestion, enhancement of safety, and improvement of traffic flow leading up to, through, and away from the border crossing facilities

As the project developed, it became clear to the project lead the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) and other partners that these objectives were similar to Customs and Border Protection's (CBP's) Free and Secure Trade (FAST) program that was being implemented simultaneously. The project focus then shifted to a partnership with CBP where CBP provided the technology and Caltrans the physical infrastructure. Development and Construction of the lane at Otay Mesa was implemented through a unique cooperation between CBP, FHWA, the General Services Administration (GSA), the Border Patrol, the Mexican Secretariat of Communication and Transportation (SCT), Mexican Customs (Aduanas) and Caltrans who designed and constructed the facility. The lane is dedicated for use by shippers and carriers that meet stringent criteria for security and who are subscribers to the CBP's Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism (CT-PAT). Not only will this facility ensure increased security and safety of the commercial traffic entering the U.S., it will also expedite trade through traffic efficiency for those shippers who are low-risk. On October 15, 2004, the FAST lane at the Otay Mesa, California Commercial Port of Entry was opened. The success of this project and the unique interagency coordination that occurred will encourage future collaboration to maximize the use of shrinking resources.

Aerial photo of the U.S. - Mexico border crossing Calexico East Port of Entry between Calexico, California and Mexicali, Baja California

Calexico East Port of Entry between Calexico, California and Mexicali, Baja California. (Source: FHWA)


To provide feedback, suggestions, or comments, contact Sylvia Grijalva at

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