History of the Laredo Transportation Association

The Laredo Transportation Association (LTA) was established in 1988. The founding members of the LTA
were, John Duggan (GM), Tony Pelligrino (TSI), Poncho Velasquez (City
Trucking), Frank Vida (Brenco), Joe Azios (Brennen), Pepe Trevino
(Southern Transportation), and David Topp (Penske Logistics). These
charter members organized the LTA in order to present a unified business group when requesting information or changes from the local government agencies.
The LTA’s charter states that the goal of the organization is to inform
it’s members of local, state and federal issues that affect their
business, and to work with those government agencies to assist them in
making decisions that will affect their businesses.
Throughout the 1990’s and into the next century, the LTA’s leadership
was involved in the decision making process for several projects and
plans that were considered for Laredo. These projects included the
opening of the Colombia Solidarity Bridge, the creation of the Laredo
Hazardous Material ordinance, the increased police presence on I-35 to
assist motorist in navigating past the long lines of tractor trailers
waiting to enter Mexico, the desire by the Texas Department of
Transportation (TxDOT) to create hazardous material routes in Webb
County, the expansion of the Mines Road, the building of a major
intersection at I-35 and the new Bob Bullock Loop, the new truck route
ordinances, the NAFTA impact studies being done by federal, state, and
educational institutions and the design and construction of the World
Trade Bridge. In 2000, one of the larger issues the LTA was occupied with was the proposed building of a truck inspection station at the exit of the World Trade Bridge.
In 1992 the City of Laredo and U.S. government opened the Colombia
Solidarity Bridge located 17 miles north of I-35 and Mines Road. This
was a big step in the future of Laredo assuring it’s place as one of
the largest land ports in the United States. At the time, the Colombia
Solidarity Bridge was the state of the art commercial port of entry.
The LTA
was present and committed to being a supporter of the bridge. This
bridge would eventually become one of the busiest bridges between
Mexico and the United States, even with the future building of the
World Trade Bridge.
In 1994, President Bill Clinton signed the
North American Free Trade Agreement with Mexico and Canada. The signing
of the NAFTA would put Laredo in the international spotlight. Laredo,
being strategically located in one of North America’s best trade lanes
would become the largest land port of entry along the U.S. and Mexican
border, crossing billons of dollars of commerce yearly. Along with this
notoriety, federal, state, and educational groups, with inquiries about
how the treaty was affecting the border community. The LTA
leadership and members spent hundreds of hours explaining how the NAFTA
was affecting the Port of Laredo and what effects there were on the
local community as well as those on the national level.
And of course with the NAFTA came the worldwide media. LTA
leaders were heard worldwide describing how Laredo and the region were
prospering with the implementation of the NAFTA. Local leaders were
also able to discuss infrastructure problems that were being caused by
the increase in trade volumes with the media which in turn brought
federal attention and dollars to the area.
With a new local focus
being placed on transportation issues, the city embarked on development
of a hazardous material ordinance. The leaders of the LTA worked as members of the ordinance development committee and as presenters to that committee.
The LTA
participation in the development of the ordinance assured the city that
there would be little chance of preemption by the federal government.
The result was an ordinance that works for both the city and the
industry and meets the federal requirements for handling the movement
and storage of hazardous interstate cargo.
Along those same lines,
TxDOT was exploring the possibility of creating a hazardous material
route along the Camino Colombia Toll Road. The LTA
worked with TxDOT in creating that designation and signage along I-35
which would lead trucks with direct destinations to utilize that route.
Another issue of mid-90’s was the long line of trucks waiting to enter
Mexico along I-35. These trucks and trailers would come to a complete
stop on the highway while awaiting Mexican Customs to process trucks in
their lot located on the Mexican side of the Lincoln Juarez Bridge. At
times this line would extend from the Lincoln Juarez Bridge all the way
to Shiloh road. This created a dangerous situation for passenger car
drivers as the trucks would have to line up in the left (inside) lane
of the highway. The LTA
was able to convince the city to institute a $.50 increase in tolls per
truck in order to pay for the Laredo Police to station units along the
highway to warn drivers of the parked trucks and trailers.
Also
during this time, the city and TxDOT worked together to widen the Mines
Road from a two lane roadway to a six lane highway with bridges and
flyovers to assist the movement of truck traffic. This project was
supported by the LTA which provided valuable communications to those companies affected by the construction.
In the late 90’s the city was ready to build the World Trade Bridge. LTA
members were involved in the planning of this bridge that has become
the leading commercial crossing point for freight entering and
departing the U.S. Along with the World Trade Bridge came the major
intersection at I-35 and Bob Bullock Loop. The LTA
and it’s members were again instrumental in keeping members and other
transportation companies up to date on the progress of the project as
well as traffic diversion requirements.
Early in 2002 TxDOT began
exploring the possibility of building truck inspection stations near
the exit booths of the World Trade and Colombia Solidarity Bridges.
These inspections stations were to be built to provide a safety
inspection for Mexican trucks that would enter the U.S. under the
provisions of the NAFTA which had been delayed by Congress. The LTA
had mixed emotions about the stations as there was the potential for
delay at the bridge head if the inspection process took too much time.
The LTA,
working with TxDOT and the Texas Department of Public Safety worked out
a process that would not require 100% inspections of all vehicles
entering the U.S. The agreed upon process would only allow for full
“DOT” inspections of a small percentage of trucks entering the U.S. or
those that had obvious visual violations when passing the inspection
booth. Once a truck passed a full DOT inspection, that truck would not
be subject to another inspection for 90 days. All trucks would be
weighed using the latest “weigh in motion” technologies. As of this
time, only the Colombia Solidarity Bridge has such and inspection
station.
The LTA sponsored several charity events over this time span. The LTA
would sponsor an annual golf tournament at Casablanca Golf Course. This
tournament started as an evening 9 hole event which eventually grew to
a full day 18 hole event. The LTA
was also the sponsor of 3 different Truck Rodeo and Truck Driving
Championships. These events tested the driving skills of local truck
drivers as well as promoting safe driving by truckers as well as
passenger car drivers in the presence of a big truck The proceeds from
these events were donated to the Sacred Hearts Children’s Home.
In 2007, the LTA merged with the Laredo Manufacturers Association to create the Logistics and Manufacturing Association – Port Laredo.