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      New highway in Mexico to grant easier access to Valley

      Between Durango and Mazatlan there's a winding mountainous highway called the devils backbone, but construction on a more developed highway is underway.

      The new highway will stretch from Durango to Monterrey connecting to the rest of the transportation system.

      Keith Patridge from the McAllen Economic Development Corporation said the new highway is expected to give shippers a more direct highway to the Valley.

      "We anticipate that generating a whole new market for us and new job opportunities for the agricultural industry," he said.

      Mexico has two main regions with strong agricultural presence.

      One is serviced at the Pharr Bridge and the other on the West Coast that traditionally has gone through Nogales, Arizona.

      "Hearing from the trade, with the new highway, it TMs actually more economical for them to use that new highway and then cross at the Pharr McAllen Reynosa port of entry, than it is to use the Nogales port," Patridge added.

      It is cheaper for producers to use Mexican highways than U.S., highways because it has different weight limits, he added.

      That means they don't need as many trucks to haul produce, which are headed to the population centers of North America.

      "Most of the population centers are east of the Mississippi River and in eastern Canada so what you see is the produce was crossing in Nogales and crossing the United States and going to the market in the eastern U.S."

      Plus, Mexico has always subsidized diesel prices for trucking companies in the county, so diesel is cheaper in Mexico than the U.S.

      "When you start looking at fuel costs, distance and being able to haul more weight on the trucks in Mexico than in the us, it became more economical to use this new Mexico highway and come across to this port of entry to come into the U.S.," Patridge concluded.

      John McClung, president of Texas Produce Association, said shippers are excited about plans for the new highway.

      "It will make things much faster and much easier, he said. You can't really drive an 18 wheeler loaded with produce east and west in Mexico now."

      The highway is scheduled to be completed by 2012.