EL PASO, Texas (Border Report) – The City of El Paso is helping keep inspection lanes open at ports of entry even as federal officials shuffle personnel to deal with migrant surges.

The city funded more than 4,000 overtime hours for U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers in the last calendar quarter of 2022 through its private-public partnership (P3) program with the federal government.

The overtime is typically applied during peak traffic hours at international bridges linking El Paso to Juarez, Mexico. Billions of dollars in trade and millions of border residents and visitors utilize those ports of entry every year.

In addition, the program paid for more than 2,400 El Paso Police Department officers’ overtime during the same period, helping prevent traffic tie-ups on roads going to Mexico or feeding bridge traffic to El Paso highways and freeways.

“That really is critical to stabilize and reduce our wait times. We are also looking at safety and traffic control near the city-owned bridges,” said Karina Brasgalla, assistant director of economic development for the city.

The city owns the Paso del Norte, Stanton and Ysleta toll bridges and the P3 program, which dates back to 2014, is user-funded and works through reimbursements.

Graphic courtesy City of El Paso

The city also procures funding for improvements – like a recent $12 million U.S. Department of Transportation RAISE grant to place shades and direct pedestrian traffic flow at Ysleta – and has a seat on the table of binational committees where concerns are raised and opportunities for economic development discussed.

“Bridges steering committee works a lot with industry and government partners in Juarez, bringing those together making sure that everybody is aware of what’s up and coming. (It’s) also an opportunity to get feedback and learn about different projects, keeping everybody on track,” Brasgalla said.

City of El Paso international bridge user trends data graphic

City and CBP data shows southbound traffic at city-owned bridges continues to rebound from COVID-19 pandemic lows, but still lags pre-9/11 levels.