El Paso, Texas, is our nation’s fifth busiest land border gateway by value for imports and exports transported across the border by highways, railroads, and pipelines. And its land ports are our fourteenth overall gateway when compared with all U.S. freight gateways—land, air, and sea.
In 2003, merchandise trade passing through El Paso ($39 billion) accounted for 7 percent of the value of U.S. total land trade. While El Paso is a major gateway for both export and imports, inbound shipments accounted for 57 percent and outbound shipments 43 percent of the value of freight handled by its land border ports in 2003.
Trucks carry the bulk of freight passing through El Paso, in terms of value of shipments, followed by rail. Since 1999, trucks have carried over 90 percent of trade passing through El Paso. By weight, trucking also accounts for the largest share of land imports tonnage (see insert table).
El Paso is an international gateway that served all but one state in 2003—Hawaii. About 33 percent of the value of truck freight passing through El Paso originates or terminates outside of Texas. Only 9 percent of truck exports passing through El Paso come from states other than Texas. Over half (53 percent) of truck imports passing through El Paso, however, go to states other than Texas. The top three states served by El Paso’s land transportation facilities accounted for 81 percent of the value of the port’s land freight. Michigan, the second largest state that has its international trade passing through El Paso, accounted for 13 percent of the land trade passing through the port in 2003. Almost 93 percent of Michigan’s international trade through El Paso is imports.
Between 1999 and 2003, rail containers rose by 56 percent while truck containers remained steady. However, truck containers make up 93 percent of the container entries. Trucks enter El Paso through the Bridge of the Americas and the Ysleta Port (Zaragoza Bridge). Between 1994 and 2003, the number of trucks entering the United States through these facilities increased by 15 percent (figure 1).
Given the current growth rate, spurred in part by the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), the volume of freight passing through El Paso and the associated truck traffic on local roads could be expected to rise.