Infrastructure and the Border Discussed at the 2018 Spring Policy Summit

“We will build gleaming new roads, bridges, highways, railways, and waterways all across our land. And we will do it with American heart, and American hands, and American grit.”

– President Trump

From the above quote, you can see that infrastructure is an important item on the current administration’s “to-do list”. The President even worked his “America First” policy into it. What does it mean for border communities like Nogales?

At our 2018 Spring Policy Summit, Britton Clarke and Jim Mullen of the Border Trade Alliance presented a few opportunities and discussed a few plans that will work to strengthen the infrastructure of communities like ours.

They started right off by discussing what’s at stake for Americans with international trade. 38 million jobs depend on trade, and at least 5 million of those jobs directly depend on trade with Mexico. With things happening like the NAFTA renegotiations, it’s difficult to see how the administration’s hard-lined stance on trade will preserve those jobs.

Britton and Jim also showed us some numbers demonstrating how the President plans to build those “gleaming new roads, bridges, highways, and railways,” starting with a proposal to invest $200 billion in infrastructure. About half of that will go directly to incentives programs, with $50 billion going to rural infrastructure programs, and another $20 billion to transformative projects.

A lot of good can be done with that money. And a lot of that good can be done right here on the border.

Already there have been some major improvements made to the local infrastructure. Cross-border coordination has improved and we’ve taken great strides in making the process of moving goods across the border more efficient and cost effective. In fact, over the last year with the help of many partners, we were able to secure a $25 million dollar TIGER grant to transform and improve SR-189 (Mariposa Rd) that will make the roadway safer and more efficient for both trucks and motorists.

But there’s still so much more to be done. For example, not everything coming across the border is hauled by truck. A lot of goods are moved back and forth by rail. The construction of a full service rail facility could improve that process exponentially.

To Britton and Jim’s point, funding border infrastructure, and supporting programs that promote cross-border cooperation doesn’t cost American jobs, or hurt the economy. If anything it creates jobs by facilitating international trade while strengthening the relationship between ourselves and our neighbors; a goal that fully coincides with our mission here at the FPAA.

 

-Lance Jungmeyer, Fresh Produce Association of the Americas President