The capital improvement program includes $ 650,000 for additional inspection lanes and $ 32 million for intelligent transportation systems
EL PASO, Texas (border report) – El Paso City Council unanimously passed a resolution on a five-year vision for border crossings in the region on Monday to keep up with economic and demographic trends.
This vision includes a possible expansion of the Ysleta Port of Entry, an additional lane on the existing structure, special pedestrian lanes to reduce waiting times and improvements to the Americans with Disabilities Act.
The $ 42.8 million International Bridges Capital Improvement Program for 2022-2026 is heavily dedicated to intelligent transportation systems at and north of the ports of entry of Ysleta and Bridge of the Americas. This can include anything from traffic control devices to structures that improve vehicle flow. The $ 5 million traffic study for the feasibility study for the expansion / modernization of the Ysleta Port of Entry has been listed as a “long-term goal” and is outside of the CIP, which was approved on Monday.
“It is important that we as a corporation continue to have an aggressive vision towards this community and the opportunities that arise,” said city representative Peter Svarzbein. “The fact is that we don’t just have to worry about how we not only bring goods across the border safely and efficiently in a 21stNS Century economy, but also human capital: people and their ideas and their dreams and their businesses. “
David Coronado, director of the International Bridges division, said the CIP spans 292 projects, large and small, and is user-funded. The state of Texas provides $ 32 million, while the remainder of the $ 42.8 comes from tolls.
“We collect the toll for journeys south, regardless of whether by vehicle or on foot. We keep part of these funds to fund these initiatives. It’s a pay-as-you-go program, ”Coronado said.
The city of El Paso has three international bridges that lead to Mexico: Paso del Norte and Stanton Street in downtown and Ysleta-Zaragoza in the Lower Valley of El Paso.
While there are plans to improve tolls and establish a fast pass lane in Stanton over the next two years, some work in Ysleta could be done sooner.
“This is a huge project that we are trying to fund by adding a track in Ysleta and studying for a port expansion,” Coronado said. “At the moment we have seven lanes at Ysleta, we want eight and two dedicated lanes on each side (with) prepayment. That helps with staffing and scheduling and can make a big difference and hopefully shorten waiting times for our customers. “
The CIP includes $ 650,000 for the additional lane and lane assignments at Ysleta.
International bridge traffic declined with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, but trade or freight traffic recovered quickly. Most of this revolves around Ysleta – a trend that is likely to continue as most of the commercial transportation hubs of El Paso and Juarez, Mexico’s factory growth, head east.
“Everything is growing east on both sides, including maquiladoras and warehousing,” he said.
The city has tried in recent years to avoid bottlenecks that could affect the region’s industrial growth. This is one of the reasons their P3 program, which reimburses U.S. Customs and Border Protection for overtime at city-owned crossings, stayed in place on trade routes during the pandemic.
“Winn Road (at PanAmerican) has expanded the capacity of 4 miles in Ysleta to separate trucks and vehicles so we don’t have any bottlenecks on Zaragoza (road),” added Coronado.
City Manager Tommy Gonzalez endorsed the CIP.
“We never had dedicated funding sources for (international) bridges. They are now treated like a system, ”he told the council. “It brings in revenue. We have to keep that, we have to develop it. “