Seeing Senor

WASHINGTON-The Mexicans might be invading truck markets to the north, but Uncle Sam will be keeping his eyes on them while they do so. At least for the time being.

According to Associated Press reports, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) will be satellite-tracking the Mexican trucks that have been allowed to enter the U.S., and they’ll be using Qualcomm-made equipment in the process.

The only problem is, critics of the plan say they don’t know where the FMCSA is going to get the money to pay for the program.

The tracking plan is being developed in conjunction with Mexican officials and the systems will be installed at no cost to the trucking companies.

The satellites will be used to enforce safety requirements, including hours of service and direct shipping standards, said FMCSA Administrator John Hill.

After determining Qualcomm was the only company that could meet its requirements, the agency on Wednesday said it intends to award the San Diego-based company a one-year contract to provide satellite terminals that will relay the location, speed, trip details, mileage and other data of the vehicles back to an operations center.

The trucks will be tracked by vehicle number and company, and no driver information will be collected.

Other companies that believe they can meet the government’s requirements have until Oct. 12 to contact the agency. Negotiations with Qualcomm continue and no pricing information was available, said FMCSA spokeswoman Melissa DeLaney.

Representatives of Qualcomm did not immediately return calls for comment Thursday afternoon. But a spokeswoman for the Teamsters Union, which sued unsuccessfully to stop the border program, said FMCSA “is whistling in the dark.”

“Where, exactly, does FMCSA expect to get the money for this project?” wondered Teamsters spokeswoman Leslie Miller.

The U.S. House of Representatives voted in July to block funding for the project and the Senate followed suit earlier this month, but the transportation spending bills still must be reconciled. If the program’s funding is cut off after the satellite-tracking contract is awarded, the deal is structured so FMCSA can simply stop making purchases and end it, DeLaney said.

The first trucks from both countries began traveling across the border earlier this month.

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