Pharr bridge makes another northbound crossing adjustment

Vehicles traffic enters on the way into Mexico at the Pharr-Reynosa bridge on Wednesday, Oct. 17, 2018, in Pharr. (Joel Martinez | jmartinez@themonitor.com)

In continuing efforts to curb ongoing wait times at the Pharr-Reynosa International Bridge after the Trump administration reassigned hundreds of the federal customs officers from ports of entry along the southern border, Pharr will now allow cars and passenger vehicles to cross into the U.S. before 8 a.m. and after 4 p.m.

Bridge officials have been scrambling to find solutions to the hours upon hours of backups at the bridge, the busiest commercial crossing in South Texas. The trucks crossing the 3.2-mile bridge from Reynosa into Pharr have had to wait up to 10 hours in recent weeks, or longer, due to the lack of U.S. Customs and Border Protection staffing to inspect the trucks. Earlier this month, 750 CBP officers from ports of entry on the border were re-assigned to assist Border Patrol with immigration duties.

Last week, in the bridge’s first move seeking a solution for the wait times, officials decided that only cargo trucks could cross northbound over the bridge. Wednesday, bridge officials announced that cars and other passenger vehicles will now be allowed to cross northbound before 8 a.m. and after 4 p.m. In between those hours, the northbound lanes at the bridge will only be open for commercial truck traffic.

For how long these various adjusted crossing hours will last is unclear.

“Bridge staff, trade partners and stakeholders will regroup on Friday, May 3, 2019 to discuss pros and cons, make adjustments if necessary, or plan for other contingencies,” according to a statement from bridge officials on Wednesday.

Pharr, like many international bridges along the border, is having to bear the burden of federal decisions. The Anzalduas International Bridge in Mission has sent workers to idling cars on the bridge to offer refreshments and shuttle rides to crossers who may need to use the restroom.

While the bridge in Mission only has the capacity for passenger vehicles, not trucks, to cross northbound, wait times have backed up for more than five hours there, too.