McALLEN, Texas (Border Report) — Eight South Texas ports of entry from Del Rio to Brownsville will have reduced hours starting Monday due to adjustments U.S. Customs and Border Protection is making during the COVID-19 pandemic, the agency said Friday.
CBP and Mexican border officials will be implementing necessary measures in compliance with federal social distancing guidelines to ensure the health and safety of our workers and the traveling public, according to a CBP news release.
CBP also said the COVID-19 pandemic has altered cross border activity, resulting in a significant decrease in vehicular traffic.
“These temporary hours changes will enable CBP and SAT to maximize resources, continue our ability to provide essential services to the public and observe necessary safety requirements for our employees across the Laredo Field Office area of operations,” Randy Howe, the director of field operations for the Laredo Field Office, said in a statement.
The Anzalduas International Bridge in McAllen is among the international bridges that will be affected, McAllen Mayor Jim Darling said. Starting Monday, the hours of operation for northbound traffic coming from Mexico will be from 6 a.m. to 4 p.m.; southbound traffic will remain unchanged, from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m.
“It is very important that residents on both sides of the border take care and stay safe during these times,” Darling said Friday.
The Donna-Rio Bravo International Bridge, in Donna, Texas, also will have reduced hours from 6 a.m. to 4 p.m., rather than until 9:45 p.m. At 4 p.m., the port will cease processing operations and all northbound and southbound traffic will be halted,
“In a Binational effort to reduce the spread of COVID-19, the City of Donna in a collaborative effort with its federal and binational stakeholders to ensure the safety of all Donna Port employees and the traveling public … is announcing the temporary reduction of operational hours,” bridge officials announced in a statement.
Passenger vehicles frequent both of these bridges, which connect to the northern Mexico state of Tamaulipas. No commercial traffic cross these bridges, although the Donna bridge was undergoing a $60 million expansion project to enable it to accommodate commercial vehicles. Officials say the reduction in hours at these selected eight ports — out of the total 18 ports in the region — are not expected to impact the nation’s supply chain or delivery of necessary goods, officials said.
“These new hours do not affect our southbound traffic. These are challenging times, but together, we will get through this,” Mission Mayor Armando Ocaña said. “We must do our part to protect ourselves, practice social distancing and follow strict hygiene protocols to safeguard our communities while the bridge remains open for essential business.”
On April 20, President Donald Trump announced he was closing the Southwest border to unnecessary travel but vowed not to affect the nation’s supply chain.
In addition, beginning Monday, April 6, the following hours of operation for processing of northbound passenger vehicle traffic will become effective for the following ports of entry:
- Eagle Pass International Bridge I: 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.
- Falcon Dam International Bridge: 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. (since April 2)
- Rio Grande City International Bridge: 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
- Anzalduas International Bridge: 6 a.m. to 4 p.m.
- Free Trade Bridge at Los Indios: 6 a.m. to 4 p.m.
- B&M International Bridge: 6 a.m. to 11:59 p.m.
- At Amistad Dam International Bridge, international traffic will be temporarily suspended on April 4.
- At crossings with reduced hours of operation, those who still need to travel internationally are directed to the next nearest crossing with longer or 24-hour service.
Sandra Sanchez can be reached at Ssanchez@borderreport.com.