As long lines begin to form at Anzalduas International Bridge, McAllen Bridge System employees are doing what they can to provide relief to road-weary travelers, including offering water and shuttle rides to those who may need to use the restroom facilities.
“CBP is doing a great job of trying to process the vehicles as efficiently and safely as possible, but there are times when the traffic does begin to back up,” said Rigo Villarreal, Superintendent of the McAllen Bridge System, which includes Anzalduas and the Mcallen-Hidalgo-Reynosa International Bridges. “During those long wait times, employees are out along the line, passing out water bottles to customers.”
Also on hand are police officers from the City of Mission Police Department who are assisting bridge staff with providing any support and work to vehicles that may be overheating or need some temporary servicing.
According to Villarreal, on average, the Anzalduas International Bridge sees 12,000 daily crossers with a wait time of 60 minutes. During holidays, traffic increases by approximately 65%, with each bridge seeing approximately 18,000, with wait times of two and three hours.
“We just hope to be able to offer a bit of customer service to our daily and holiday travelers, thanking them for choosing to cross at Anzalduas. We understand their frustration with the long wait times and we just want to offer some relief.
During the major holidays when Mexican travelers travel for shopping and visiting, the McAllen Bridge System would participate in a unique federal program that allows public or private entities to help pay for additional staffing for officers from U.S. Customs & Border Protection to have more lanes open by having extra CBP management officers on hand. This would help reduce their bridge wait time and get them into McAllen and Hidalgo shops as quickly as possible.
This year, CBP was unable to participate in the program as CBP officers have been reassigned to assist Border Patrol agents with processing the recent surge of Central American asylum-seeking refugees.