Border cities prepare for traffic tie-ups after Nov. 8 rollback of land travel restrictions

Border Report Tour

Juarez officers to monitor vehicle flow; government figures show U.S.-bound traffic already growing

Drivers line up at the Cordova-Americas international bridge in Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua state, Mexico as Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents in El Paso, Texas, U.S. partially closed the lanes, delaying the crossing of vehicles on March 31, 2019.(HERIKA MARTINEZ/AFP via Getty Images)

EL PASO, Texas (Border Report) – Authorities in Juarez, Mexico, say they’ll be monitoring U.S.-bound vehicle traffic in anticipation of a large spike after the Nov. 8 rollback of land border travel restrictions.

That’s the day vaccinated Mexicans will be able to cross into the U.S. for non-essential trips. The restrictions remain in place through Jan. 21, 2022, for unvaccinated foreign land port travelers.

Like their counterparts in El Paso, Juarez municipal authorities say there’s a huge pent-up demand for family, shopping, and recreational travel to the United States on the part of Mexican visa holders unable to cross since the restrictions began on March 2020.

Such demand likely will lead to hours-long waits at the Paso del Norte, Zaragoza and Bridge of the Americas ports of entry, said Arlyn Vargas, spokeswoman for the Juarez Traffic Police, or Vialidad.

She said police will deploy officers to the three border crossings to prevent traffic tie-ups and fights, as motorists attempt to reduce their waits by cutting in line.

Meantime, Fideicomiso de Puentes, the agency in charge of toll collections on the Mexican side of the Paso del Norte and Zaragoza bridges, is urging motorists to have their change ready when they pull up to the booths so as to speed up bridge traffic.

International traffic is up substantially even before the so-called “reopening of the border,” as vaccination rates soar in El Paso-Juarez and fear of catching COVID-19 goes down among those able to cross the border.

Graphic courtesy U.S. Department of Transportation

U.S. Department of Transportation figures show pedestrian and personal vehicle traffic was up by the tens of thousands in August compared to July in the El Paso sector. Almost 45,000 more vehicle passengers came across in August compared to July as did 30,000 additional pedestrians.

In El Paso, city officials said they will try to minimize southbound traffic tie-ups at the Zaragoza, Bridge of the Americas and Stanton Street bridges once the restrictions are lifted.

The city also plans to restart its P3 Program, which consists on reimbursing U.S. Customs and Border Protection for overtime pay for its officers in order to keep more northbound inspection lanes open.

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