(McAllen, TX) In anticipation of increased holiday traffic, the Anzalduas International Bridge is taking part in a unique federal program that allows public or private entities to pay for overtime hours for officers from U.S. Customs & Border Protection in order to assist CBP with having additional lanes open and management officers on hand. Beginning on Tuesday, December 26, 2017, the day after Christmas, through December 28, 2017, and then again on Tuesday, January 2, 2018, Anzalduas International Bridge will have additional supervisors managing the lanes to expedite their processes.
The overtime hours are as follows:
December 26, 2017 from 9:00 a.m. - 7:00 p.m.
December 27-28, 2017, 2017 from 10:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.
January 2, 2018 from 9:00 a.m. - 7:00 p.m.
“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 stores, restaurants, hotels and gas stations is a worthwhile and valuable investment,” said City of McAllen Mayor Jim Darling. “Aside from the economic consideration to our community, being able to reduce the time families, with young children and elderly spend on the bridge, will hopefully convey to these Mexican shoppers that their comfort and well-being is important to this region and make them more likely to keep returning.”
The program is known as the 560 and refers to the reimbursable fee agreement program from CBP in order to request overtime services from the federal agency. The program was put into place in 2014 after repeated requests from border communities for additional officers during Mexican and U.S. holidays which bring an increase in bridge traffic with prolonged wait times from the increased shoppers as well as commerce and goods during these times.
According to Rigoberto Villarreal, City of McAllen Superintendent of Bridges, on average, the McAllen-Hidalgo Bridge sees 12,000 daily crossers, while the Anzalduas Bridge sees 2,800 daily crossers, with a wait time of 60 minutes. During holidays, traffic increases approximately 65%, with each bridge seeing approximately 18,000 and 4,500, respectively, with wait times of two and three hours for each.
Additionally, bridge officials are noticing more vehicles crossing into the U.S. compared to last month and are forecasting more travelers after Christmas.
Anzalduas International Bridges will invest $16,000 into the program, to help cover the overtime services for CBP, said McAllen City Manager Roel “Roy” Rodriguez, P.E. Since the program’s inception, the City of McAllen has participated in the 560 program many times.