U.S. and Mexican officials are coming together to figure out where new border crossings and connecting roads may be needed in the region.
Representatives at the first Border Master Plan meeting Wednesday at UTEP will work on identifying projects needed in the future, setting priorities and developing timelines for them.
"All sorts of transportation projects and issues will be discussed," said Bob Kaufman, a spokesman for Texas Department of Transportation. "It will be a binational, multi-government agency meeting.
"There will be federal, state and local officials that have responsibilities for transportation. The end result will be a list of transportation infrastructure priorities."
Besides U.S. and Mexican federal officials, the gathering will include representatives from the Metropolitan Planning Organization, City of El Paso, the Texas Department of Transportation and the New Mexico Department of Transportation.
Roy Gilyard, El Paso's MPO executive director, said the cross-border meeting is also important because it will include input from Mexico's transportation officials.
"The Border Master Plan is part of a national initiative," Gilyard said. "California has a plan and so does Laredo."
TxDOT contracted with the Center for Transportation Research at UT-Austin, the Texas Transportation Institute and UTEP to develop the "El Paso/Santa Teresa-Chihuahua Border Master Plan." The program is on the official initiatives list of the U.S.-Mexico Bilateral Action
During the daylong meeting at UTEP, the binational representatives will work to fulfill the plan's objectives to:
-- Design a process that ensures the participation of everyone involved in port of entry projects and the transportation infrastructure for such projects.
-- Increase the understanding of the planning processes for port of entry and transportation projects on both sides of the border.
-- Develop priorities and timelines for port of entry and related multi-modal transportation projects, including those for pedestrians, non-commercial vehicles, commercial vehicles and rail.
-- Recommend a process that ensures coordination among federal, state, regional and local stakeholders on current and future port of entry and supporting transportation needs.
The meeting will be at 9 a.m. Wednesday at UTEP's Mike Loya Academic Services Building, Schuster and Hawthorne.
TxDOT spokeswoman Blanca Del Valle said the public may observe the meeting, and in the future will be able to provide oral or written comments.
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