McALLEN — In anticipation of voluminous holiday traffic for the upcoming Easter holiday, the Anzalduas and Hidalgo-Reynosa International Bridges are paying overtime hours to Customs and Border Protection officers.
CBP has additional lanes open for the holiday this weekend, including Palm Sunday, and again on Thursday. The federal agency will have additional supervisors managing the extra lanes to expedite their processes, and the city will also be providing bottles of water to cars waiting in line.
Anzalduas will have two traffic lanes open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday and Thursday. The Hidalgo Bridge will have two additional lanes open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday and Thursday as well.
“For the entire Rio Grande Valley, which relies heavily on the impact of Mexican shoppers to our retail and hospitality driven economy, being able to minimize their bridge wait times and get them into our community is a worthwhile and valuable investment,” McAllen Mayor Jim Darling said. “Aside from the economic consideration to our city, being able to reduce the time families, with young children and elderly spend on the bridge, will hopefully convey to our Mexican friends that their comfort and well-being is important to us.”
The city is able to assist with events like this through CBP’s public-private partnership program. Increases in passenger and cargo volumes in 2014 outpaced CBP’s personnel and infrastructure resources, so the agency implemented this program to help with those needs.
McAllen will pour $23,040 into overtime services for CBP, City Manager Roel “Roy” Rodriguez said.
Superintendent of Bridges Rigo Villarreal said the bridge sees about 3,000 daily crossers with an average of 60 minutes. During holidays, traffic increases approximately 65 percent, Villarreal said, with about 5,000 daily crossers and wait times between two to three hours without additional overtime assistance.
While the bridges are mostly concerned about passenger vehicles over holidays, the Anzalduas Bridge is continuing to push its truck traffic. The bridge began serving southbound empty trucks in August 2016.
The first 20 southbound empty trucks receive free tacos and coffee.