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New Mexico State University

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PSL gets $1 million border technology grant

The Physical Science Laboratory at New Mexico State University has been awarded a $1 million grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation for developing improved technologies for inspecting vehicles crossing the U.S.-Mexico border.

Robert Silver, PSL program manager, said the grant will allow PSL to establish a technology center adjacent to the U.S. Customs Service Santa Teresa Port of Entry at the border in southern New Mexico. Known as the Santa Teresa Border Technology Deployment Center, the facility will be used for developing, evaluating and deploying technologies to improve the safety and efficiency of vehicles crossing the international border.

PSL will work closely with the New Mexico Motor Transportation and Highway Departments, the U.S. Department of Transportation's newly created Motor Carrier Safety Administration and other state and federal agencies, Silver said.

"One of the things we will be doing is enhancing the Commercial Vehicle Information Systems Network," he said. This electronic network allows states to share information on vehicle inspections to make the process faster and more efficient.

"If a vehicle has been cleared by New Mexico, for instance, the information is shared with other states, so the vehicle doesn't have to be inspected for the same thing again as it passes from state to state," Silver said. PSL also will use the center for developing advanced technology such as a fiber optics weigh-in-motion technology for collecting data on commercial vehicles, he said.

Silver said U.S. Rep. Joe Skeen, R-N.M., was instrumental in securing the DOT grant. "Congressman Skeen has been a strong supporter of the center from its concept, as the center will enhance Santa Teresa as a Port of Entry and the economic growth provided by the industrial park," he said.

Since the enactment of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) in 1994, trade with Mexico has more than doubled, Silver said. Commercial vehicle traffic at the Santa Teresa Port of Entry is approaching 200 trucks a day and is expected to increase significantly when the new Domenici Highway connection at Interstate 10 is completed, he said.

Karl Hill
April 27, 2000