U.S. Senate Committee on Environment & Public Works
U.S. Senate Committee on Environment & Public Works
Hearing Statements
Date:   08/11/2003
Hon. Solomon Ortiz, U.S. Congressman from the State of Texas
TEA-21 Reauthorization

I want to thank Senator John Cornyn for arranging this hearing to talk about the important matters of transportation investment in South Texas. I’d also like to thank my good friend Senator Inhofe who happens to be my occasional constituent here in the Rio Grande Valley. The Chairman is quite familiar with the needs of our community. I am currently on a trade delegation mission to the Far East, or I would be attending this hearing personally to deliver this message.

Our transportation system is the lifeblood of trade and commerce that flows through our communities and keeps jobs here in the Valley. The South Texas border has unfathomable potential, and enormous challenges, associated with rapid changes in transportation and infrastructure.

I hope today’s testimony will substantiate the need for increased federal funding for area roads and highways – like I-69 – ports, bridges, and airports in the South Texas area.

This is one of those rare pieces of geography that accommodates a truly intermodal transportation system, at the front door of NAFTA. The Rio Grande Valley sits between the worlds of North and Central America … on the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway … and between the Gulf of Mexico and the vast American Southwest.

In the very near future, we will have a land bridge in Mexico that will serve as a better means of transporting cargo from global markets all over the world, providing more options for shippers and fostering greater competition for transporting containerized cargo by way of rail, trucks or ship.

Just this month, the Port of Brownsville signed a sister port agreement with the Mexican Port of Manzanillo-Glipsa on the coast of the Pacific. As an established partner with sister ports in China and Tawian, the agreement with the Port of Manzanillo-Glipsa completes the last segment of a route from Asia overland by rail in Mexico, through the Port of Brownsville, and into the Gulf of Mexico and onto the markets of the East Coast of North America and Europe.

The Rio Grande Valley sits at the crossroads of trade waters, interstates, and international borders – and in the midst of the trade that churns through our economy, both in South Texas and the nation.

Again, I offer my thanks to Senator Cornyn and Senator Inhofe for their attention to this vital part of the State of Texas in hearing about our transportation needs. I look forward to working with both senators – and the Texas delegation in the House of Representatives – to include these priorities in appropriations bills now before Congress and in the upcoming Transportation Authorization bill (TEA-21).