Laredo, Texas-Land Gateway

Laredo, Texas-Land Gateway

Laredo, Texas, is our nation’s second busiest land gateway by value of imports and exports transported across the border by highways, railroads, and pipelines. And its land ports are our sixth leading gateway when compared with all U.S. freight gateways—land, air, and sea.

In 2003, merchandise trade passing through Laredo ($79 billion) accounted for 14 percent of the value of U.S. total land trade. Laredo is a major gateway for both export and imports, with inbound shipments accounted for 59 percent and outbound shipments 41 percent of the value of freight handled by its land ports in 2003.

Trucks carried the bulk of freight passing through Laredo, in terms of value of shipments, followed by rail. In 2003, truck’s moved 69 percent of the value of land trade passing through Laredo, down from 78 percent in 1999. Rail had a 30 percent market share of the value in 2003, up from 22 percent in 1999. Between 1999 and 2003, the value of rail freight via Laredo increased at an average of 11 percent per year, compared to the value of truck freight which grew about 2 percent per year. By weight, trucking also accounted for the largest share of the land imports tonnage through this gateway (see insert table).

Laredo is an international gateway that serves every state. About 76 percent of the value of truck freight passing through Laredo originates or terminates outside Texas. By value, nearly 81 percent of truck imports and 70 percent of truck exports passing through Laredo are to and from other states. The top three states served by Laredo’s land transportation facilities account for over half of the merchandise trade passing through Laredo – Michigan (24 percent), Texas (23 percent), and California (7 percent). These three states accounted for 58 percent of Laredo’s land imports and 45 percent of its land exports in 2003.

Thousands of commercial trucks cross into the United States from Mexico through Laredo, Texas, using the World Trade Bridge, the most important truck crossing on the U.S.-Mexican border, and the Columbia Bridge. Laredo’s international bridge crossings handled over 1.4 million incoming truck crossings in 2003, more than double the 668,000 crossings in 1994 (figure 1). About 1.3 million truck containers entered into the United States at Laredo from Mexico in 2003. By comparison about 313,000 rail containers crossed into the United States at Laredo from Mexico in 2003.

Given the current growth rate, spurred in part by the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), the ­volume of freight passing through Laredo and the ­associated truck traffic on local roads could be expected to rise.