FALFURRIAS – Driving north on Interstate 69 out of the Rio Grande Valley a sign reads Falfurrias 20, a tree line begins on the median of the highway and a mile up the highway there is a Border Patrol checkpoint.
Ten thousand vehicles pass the Falfurrias checkpoint everyday making it the busiest in the United States in the amount of seizures and apprehensions. With some luck there is a chance to pass smoothly and not be delayed.
Beginning in the summer of 2018 the United States Border Patrol hopes to change any inconvenience for motorists when they open a new state-of-the-art, 20,000 square-foot checkpoint.
“We're glad to get (the new facility) underway,” Deputy Patrol Agent in Charge of Falfurrias Tom Slowinski said. “I know for the last 20 or 30 years they've built many ports of entry down in the Valley, all of that traffic of course funnels through this checkpoint.”
The original checkpoint was built in 1994 and has never been updated with the times. It does not have the capacity and capabilities that the new building will have which will help the agents do the inspections more efficiently.
The cost of the new checkpoint will be in the $30 million range and will feature a 8,600 square-foot main building, 4,000 square-foot storage building and a 2,000 square-foot dog kennel.
From the ingress to the egress of the checkpoint everything will be vastly improved which will include new lanes for traffic. Four lanes will be used for commercial traffic and Four lanes will be used for non-commercial traffic.
There will be a substantial increase in non-intrusive technology, x-ray technology and radiation technology.
“Instead of handheld equipment we're looking at drive-through portals that will come through the checkpoint,” Slowinski said.
Deputy Chief Patrol Agent for the RGV Sector Raul Ortiz said there should be no delays in traffic due to the construction of the new checkpoint. The RGV Sector will keep the staffing model as is and since the new facility is being built just north of the existing checkpoint it will be business as usual at the current checkpoint.