Man Hours in Anticipation of Heavy Holiday Traffic
In anticipation of increased holiday traffic for the upcoming Easter holiday, the Anzalduas International Bridge and McAllen-Hidalgo International Bridge are once again 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 Friday, March 23 and continuing on Sunday, March 25 and then again on Thursday, March 29, the Anzalduas International Bridge and McAllen-Hidalgo International Bridge will have additional supervisors managing the lanes to expedite their processes.
Anzalduas International Bridge will have two traffic management lanes from 8:00 a.m. thru 4:00 p.m. on March 23; March 25; and March 29, 2018.
McAllen Hidalgo International Bridge will have two additional lanes from 8:00 a.m. thru 4:00 p.m. on March 25 and March 29, 2018.
This coincides with the influx of visitors that descend upon the city of McAllen during Holy Week leading up to Easter, which is a special holiday for Mexico. The additional overtime hours will begin this Friday; on Palm Sunday, March 25 and Holy Thursday, March 29).
“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 community is a worthwhile and valuable investment,” said City of McAllen Mayor Jim Darling. “Aside from the economic consideration to our city, being able to reduce the time families, with young children and elderly spend on the bridge, will hopefully convey to our Mexican friends that their comfort and well-being is important to us.”
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 Anzalduas Bridge sees 3,000 daily crossers, with an average wait time of 60 minutes. During holidays, traffic increases approximately 65%, with the bridge seeing approximately 5,000 crossers with wait times between two to three hours, without the additional overtime help.
The Anzalduas International Bridge will invest a total of $23,040 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.