Changes in Store for El Paso's Ports of Entry

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POSTED: Wednesday, December 22, 2010 - 4:40pm

UPDATED: Wednesday, December 22, 2010 - 6:07pm

EL PASO- Increased holiday travel means more cars and trucks on international bridges.  But changes are in store at El Paso's ports of entry.

"We're going to have license plate readers be implemented," says El Paso Port Director William Molaski.

They're designed to keep track of those leaving the United States.  The readers are just a part of changes at the Bridge of the Americas, southbound side.

"As we develop that technology you will see an increase in the number of inspections," Molaski told us.

Right now, those coming into the U.S. face mandatory inspections.  The plan is to make those heading into Mexico face similar scrutiny.

That means more agents and more thorough checks.

"Ultimately what we're trying to do here is restrict the use of the ports of entry by the criminal element," Molaski remarked.

But new technology and increased southbound checks may have several implications for the U.S. side of the border, not the least of which is traffic.

Around rush hour, cars and trucks hurry up and wait to get into Mexico.  At the free bridge, traffic often pushes out onto Paisano, causing dangerous backups.

Customs and Border Protection says there's a plan for that.

"An area where we can comfortably, not only for our officers but for our passengers, get them out of the environments to conduct these inspections in an efficient manner," Molaski told reporter Matt Rivers.

It's part of a infrastructure overhaul designed to ease the flow of traffic.

Wider lanes and designated inspection areas should keep traffic flowing smoothly, despite more frequent checks on vehicles.

Director Molaski admits the system isn't perfect, but essential; because national security is a two-sided topic.

No specific time frame has been given for the completion of these changes.  But C.B.P. says it's an ongoing process, and to expect to see progress very soon.

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