Truckers claim DPS stops are affecting commerce

Giant 18-wheeler trucks travel the roads of Cameron County daily, transporting raw materials and goods to and from international bridges, the Port of Brownsville and out of the Valley. But those in the trucking business said Wednesday, that it's getting tougher and tougher to make a profit or attract business.

One major culprit, they said, The Texas Department of Public Safety, which they argue is making excessive traffic stops. "(Truck businesses) don't want to come down here because they feel like they are cornered," said Zeek Silva, a trucking company owner.

Out-of-state and Mexican investors are afraid to ship their goods through or to Cameron County, Silva said, because they don't want to waste time or pay for hefty citations. Silva adds they are often ludacris.

"Tires that are supposedly (too thin) - tires are round, sometimes they wear and tear a little bit more in one area," Silva said, "but that doesn't mean the tire is no good. But they'll pick the weakest point and say, 'you're out of service.'"

Port of Brownsville Director Eddie Campirano adds that some trucking businesses are now implementing premiums for crossing Cameron County, and some are just bypassing it all together, taking their business to Hidalgo county to avoid the DPS stops.

DPS Cpt. Fred Whisenant, in charge of the Commercial Vehicle Enforcement Districts of Cameron County, Hidalgo County and Webb County, understands the commercial impact and is concerned but, but he said, his troopers' priority is safety. Still, he agrees going through an international bridge inspection, only to be stopped a few miles down the road, is not ideal.

"It is discouraged by me, my personnel shouldn't be doing that," Whisenant said, "but I'm not going to say it doesn't happen. Some travel on the road could cause another issue that would require for it to be re-inspected."

Whisenant adds that at "Los Tomates" bridge in Brownsville last year, there were over 56,000 violations documented, but less than 1,000 actual citations. However, documented violations to stay on a trucking business record and affect their safety score.

A stop means valuable time off the travel path, and possibly not getting the products to their destination on time, a risk, Silva said, businesses owners and investors are not willing to take.

"It's already put some carriers out of business," Silva said.