Upgrades Speed Up Truck Traffic at Border Crossing in Texas
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Trucks are traveling quicker on four special fast lanes at a U.S.-Mexico border crossing after the Texas city of Laredo helped complete a construction project to reduce traffic congestion at the World Trade Bridge.
U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar (D), who attended a grand opening ceremony Feb. 21 at the bridge, said the $10.3 million project (with $8 million in federal funds) also added four new inspection booths, raising the total to 15 and increasing capacity by 36%.
“This will give the approximately 2,000 FAST [Free and Secure Trade] trucks that cross the World Trade Bridge every day their own dedicated route,” Cuellar noted. “Laredo is the busiest land port in the United States. This expansion will help eliminate congestion at the World Trade Bridge Port of Entry and expedite the flow of trade into our country.”
The commercial World Trade Bridge is one of four bridges in the Port of Laredo. Before project completion, that entry experienced severe traffic bottlenecks stretching into Mexico due to high commercial truck traffic and the port’s physical layout. Now the four lanes and extra inspection booths are expected to result in faster crossings for all travelers at all Laredo crossings.
Pete Flores, executive assistant field operations commissioner at U.S. Customs and Border Protection, said, “These port improvements will assist CBP in processing legitimate trade and travel while alleviating traffic congestions for the trucks and vehicles crossing through the port.”
The City of Laredo contributed to the 18-month project by outfitting with the necessary infrastructure and technology the four special FAST lanes at the World Trade Bridge’s land Port of Entry to speed up processing of commercial truck drivers who participate in the FAST program.
Initiated after 9/11, the FAST program was developed to provide a speedier commercial clearance for known low-risk shipments entering the United States from Canada and Mexico. The trusted traveler/trusted shipper program allows expedited processing for commercial carriers that have completed background checks and fulfill certain eligibility requirements. FAST vehicle lanes process cargo at land border ports of entry that serve commercial cargo.
A PAM Transport truck at the World Trade Bridge in Laredo, Texas. (Rep. Henry Cuellar via Facebook)
Laredo officials brokered the city’s contribution to the project through a Donations Acceptance Program within U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the General Services Administration that allows government agencies and private industry to donate real estate, personal property (including money donations) and nonpersonal services for port of entry construction, alterations, operations and maintenance.
“As international trade continues to grow, so does the need for Laredo to adapt to meet these market conditions,” Mayor Victor Treviño said. “This program will reduce congestion and expedite safe and secure international trade.”
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