Pharr bridge giving trucks priority

San Rey trucks are seen at a produce terminal in Pharr on Tuesday, April, 2, 2019 at the Pharr-Reynosa International Bridge. (Delcia Lopez | dlopez@themonitor.com)

PHARR — The northbound lanes at the Pharr-Reynosa International Bridge are now only open to cargo trucks, city officials said Wednesday as they seek a temporary solution to northbound traffic issues at the bridge due mostly to the reassignment of dozens of Customs and Border Protection officers to assist Border Patrol with immigration enforcement.

The northbound lanes will be open to trucks from 6 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday to Friday for the foreseeable future, bridge Director Luis Bazan said Wednesday. Cars and passenger vehicles will only be allowed to cross southbound over the Pharr Bridge during the duration of this program.

“We’re trying everything we can to keep everything moving, and we’ve already gotten a good response to this new pilot program,” Bazan said, adding that CBP is on board with this initiative and that the trade community has reported shorter wait times since the new hours began on Tuesday, though those trucks have still been sitting on the bridge for hours. The Pharr Bridge Board also supported the move on Wednesday.

Pharr is dealing with the brunt of federal decisions which resulted in the reassignment of hundreds of CBP officers from ports of entry to assist Border Patrol with immigration issues, with at least 60 of them coming from the Pharr bridge, officials said.

While northbound lanes will be exclusively for trucks in the coming days and possibly weeks, or longer, southbound hours will remain the same as they’ve always been for commercial trucks and passenger vehicles. For passenger vehicles, that means 6 a.m. to midnight every day of the week, and for commercial trucks, 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. Monday to Friday. Weekend hours for commercial trucks are 7 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The length of the recent reassignments of Customs officers is unclear, as is the bridge crossing numbers. But in March, before the reassignment, crossings increased, as they have all year. More than 58,000 trucks crossed from Mexico into the United States over the Pharr Bridge in March, a 4% jump from March 2018.