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Mexico, Arizona investing in trade, transportation improvements

PHOENIX – A new Arizona trade office in Mexico City has already made progress in literally bridging the trading gap between Arizona and its nearest international neighbor — or trading potholes, to be more specific.

Last week a group of more than 70 Arizonans traveled to Mexico to discuss ways to improve trade and Director John Halikowski with the Arizona Department of Transportation, who was among the travelers, said the meetings have already spurred new investments.

Halikowski said beginning next year, Mexican officials have pledged $1 billion to improve Mexico’s Route 15 highway, which is a major thoroughfare in bringing goods from Mexico through the Nogales, Arizona entry ports.

Poor infrastructure has slowed the flow of goods along the highway and made trade more difficult, a problem Mexico’s investment would look to remedy.

“Especially to remove speed bumps that are placed in many of the small towns that highway 15 runs through,” Halikowski said.

He also stated improving the infrastructure would help truckloads of goods reach Arizona quicker and help keep the state competitive among other entry points in the U.S.

“The effect would be that you would speed up the time that it takes a truck to travel from agricultural and industrial areas in Mexico that are bound for Nogales,” he said.

The U.S. has also pledge to provide nearly $7 million in assistance to a military checkpoint along highway 15 that operates 24 hours a day and checks all commercial vehicles, a process that Halikowski said causes major traffic delays and sometimes ruins or contaminates products.

According to Halikowski, the investment from the U.S. would help provide better technology and equipment at the checkpoint to speed up the process and avoid complications.