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City leaders discuss plans to shorten border wait times


POSTED: Thursday, March 21, 2013 - 6:14pm

UPDATED: Thursday, March 21, 2013 - 6:15pm

El Paso City Council met for a special meeting Thursday to discuss how to lessen the impact of federal budget cuts on wait times at border crossings in El Paso.

Project - 21 has three different components that are all targeted at shortening wait times.

Part of the first action plan is to reserve two lanes at the Zaragoza/Ysleta bridge for C-TPAT (Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism) shipments. It would also make the Zaragoza bridge open to commercial traffic only.

"A recommendation that we actually would move all commercial traffic to one port and as part of the move all non-commercial traffic to another," said Mayor John Cook.

The second action plan would implement circulator buses for pedestrians using the Paso del Norte and Stanton St. bridges in Downtown El Paso.

A Juarez company, Transborde offers shuttle service between El Paso and Juarez for $2. Mayor Cook wants to expand the program with the City possibly subsidizing the cost for travelers.

"I want this to be the precursor for some kind of downtown people mover, international people mover," said Cook.

The third part of the plan would implement a lane at the Bridge of the Americas dedicated "High Security Lane" that would guarantee the non-stop flow of traffic during peak congestion times.

Meanwhile, another pilot program being conducted by the private company, Secure Origins, is using GPS technology to track shipments from the moment they leave factories in Juarez, to the point of delivery in the United States.

"If a truck stops too long in any one area, if it happens to deviate from the route, if there's a door opened, an alert comes to us and its tagged as that truck needs a secondary inspection," said Toby Spoon, president of Secure Origins.

The technology ensures that the shipments are secure so Customs agents can move them through the lies more quickly.

City Council will vote on Tuesday whether to continue funding the Secure Origins pilot program for another 90 days. They will also vote on Project - 21.

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