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Borderlands: Wait times in Laredo and San Diego are up; Trucker dies in fatal I-10 crash in San Antonio

Wait times at Port Laredo has increased as manufacturing companies rush to get goods across the U.S.-Mexico border in time for holiday sales. Image: U.S. Customs and Border Protection

Borderlands is a weekly rundown of developments in the world of United States-Mexico cross-border trucking and trade. This week: Holiday surge increases truck wait times; Truck driver dies during fatal I-10 crash; YRC Freight rolls out Texas next-day service; Officials seize truck carrying $1.9 million stash of cocaine.

Holiday surge increases wait times at Laredo and San Diego border crossings

As the holiday season approaches, businesses across the United States have begun scrambling to ensure goods will arrive in time for Black Friday and Christmas.

The result has been increased wait times for commercial trucks crossimg the U.S.-Mexico border at ports of entry in Laredo and San Diego.

According to FreightWaves Wait Time Index, which measures the average amount of time a truck spends parked at a facility in minutes excluding drop trailers, drivers are spending 4.38 hours in Laredo and 2.5 hours at the Otay Mesa port of entry near San Diego.

Longer wait times are indicated by red in this tree map. Image: FreightWaves SONAR

Jesus Alvarez, head of carrier sales for Laredo-based Fr8Hub, said November and December are some of the busiest times of year for the cross-border shipping industry. 

“The main reason we are experiencing increased wait times and delays at both borders – Tijuana/Otay Mesa and Laredo/Nuevo Laredo – is due to the holiday surge,” Alvarez told FreightWaves. “A large number of maquiladoras based out of Tijuana, Mexicali, and Ensenada are overproducing with the holidays up ahead.”

Many of the Mexican factories will be closed a handful of days in December, Alvarez said. To compensate, the factories are increasing their exports at this time of year.

“This is why capacity begins to tighten and we recommend planning for these discrepancies,” Alvarez said “Longer lines at the border and delays at loading/unloading facilities are something to be expected until the holiday rush comes to an end.” 

Another factor for the surge in border freight is a shorter holiday season. Thanksgiving, the normal kick-off of the U.S. holiday shopping season, falls on Nov. 28, a week later than last year’s Nov. 22. It leaves retailers with six fewer days to drive sales between Thanksgiving and Christmas day.

The holiday season from November and December can account for as much as 40 percent of a retailer’s annual sales.

“It’s a very compressed holiday season…every day counts,” Target Corp’s chief executive, Brian Cornell, said in an interview with Reuters.

Alvarez added that the ongoing trade tensions between the U.S. and China are also ramping up activity even further as businesses look to shift their sourcing.

U.S.-Mexico trade has increased nearly 17% over the past two years, climbing up to $611 billion in imports and exports in 2018. Fr8Hub officials expect freight rates to rise even more as the end of the year approaches.

“We are taking a proactive approach to avoid accruing accessorial charges for our customers,” Alvarez said.

Alvarez recently blogged about how shippers can avoid mistakes during the holidays.

“Some of these methods include Implementing drop trailers at origin and/or destination, providing information for customs in advance and transloading at reliable border warehouses to alleviate some of the pain points for our customers and carriers,” Alvarez said.

Truck driver dies during fatal freeway crash in San Antonio

A tractor-trailer driver was killed after his truck fell off a San Antonio freeway overpass Nov. 7.

Police said 62-year-old Jose Marquez Aguillon was driving an 18-wheeler truck around 7 a.m. at the intersection of Interstate 10 and Interstate 35 in San Antonio.

Aguillon’s truck was involved in an accident with a Honda Accord on the road, according to authorities.

As a result of the accident with the Accord, Aguillon lost control of his truck, struck a concrete retaining wall and slid off the overpass falling onto a roadway below.

Aguillon was killed in the accident. The people in the Honda Accord were not hurt, according to authorities.

While the exact cause has not been determined, authorities believe rainy weather and slick roadways may have been a factor, according to Alisia Pruneda, a spokeswoman with the San Antonio Police Department.

YRC Freight rolls out next-day service in Texas

Shippers looking for a next-day Texas short-haul shipping option can now call on YRC Freight.

The Overland Park, Kansas-based company recently introduced its YRC Freight Regional Next-Day Texas service, which moves freight within the Lone Star State.

“I’m excited to announce our new YRC Freight Regional Next-Day Texas service. Shipments move faster through our network with direct loading and less handling,” Scott D. Ware, chief network officer, YRC Worldwide, said in a release.

“If you are shipping within Texas, YRC Freight’s Regional Next-Day Texas is a best-in-class service with high on-time performance and one of the lowest claims ratios in the industry,” Ware said.

Ware added that Texas is one of the fastest growing states in the country and a key market for YRC Freight customers. 

Officials seize tractor trailer smuggling $1.9 million of cocaine at the border

Members of the Mexican Army seized a shipment of $1.9 million worth cocaine hidden in a tractor-trailer before it crossed the United States-Mexico border.

The seizure took place at a military checkpoint near the city of Matamoros on Nov. 7.

Mexican authorities used an x-ray device to examine a dry van truck and discovered 153 packages of cocaine hidden in a secret compartment.

The tractor trailer was from Querétaro, Mexico and headed towards the border city of Reynosa, according to Mexican officials. Authorities said the cocaine was likely destined for the U.S.

The driver, who was not identified, was placed under arrest.


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Noi Mahoney

Noi Mahoney is a Texas-based journalist who covers cross-border trade, logistics and supply chains for FreightWaves. He graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a degree in English in 1998. Mahoney has more than 20 years experience as a journalist, working for newspapers in Florida, Maryland and Texas. Contact [email protected]