All northbound empty cargo trucks crossing the U.S.-Mexico border at the Laredo port of entry will now be rerouted to the Colombia-Solidarity bridge starting Dec. 7.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) announced the pilot program Monday, with the aim of reducing truck traffic and wait times at the Laredo port of entry, officials said.
“This redirection of empty tractors and trailers through Colombia-Solidarity Bridge will help greatly to alleviate wait times at [Laredo’s] World Trade Bridge, provide for a more orderly and efficient facilitation of lawful trade while CBP maintains its robust border security posture and ensures compliance with more than 400 federal laws and regulations,” said Eugene Crawford, acting port director for the Laredo port of entry.
Starting Dec. 7, the hours of operation to receive northbound empty tractors-trailers at the Colombia-Solidarity Bridge will be from 8 a.m. to midnight Monday through Friday and 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays.
The Colombia-Solidarity Bridge is located about 19 miles to the northwest of Laredo’s World Trade Bridge along the Texas-Mexico border.
Brokers, carriers and shippers that are certified in trusted trader programs CBP-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism (C-TPAT) and Free and Secure Trade (FAST) may continue to use the World Trade Bridge, according to CBP.
The port of entry in Laredo, which includes the World Trade Bridge and the Colombia-Solidarity Bridge, sees some of the highest volumes of commercial traffic along the U.S.-Mexico border.
The Laredo port of entry is the No. 1 inland port along the U.S.-Mexico border and ranked No. 2 in the nation with $231.58 billion in imports and exports in 2019, according to data analyzed by WorldCity.
In October and September, truck crossings in Laredo were up 5% and 7.7% year-over-year, according to data from the city of Laredo.
While truck crossings are up at the Laredo port of entry, finding truck capacity along the border continues to be a challenge, according to Troy Ryley, president of Redwood Mexico, a division of Redwood Logistics.
“During the past weeks we have experienced longer than usual border crossing times at the World Trade Bridge at Laredo caused by Mexican Customs’ system being down a few hours, increased emphasis on trailer inspections by CBP and just an overall increase in freight volume,” Ryley said. “Border crossing times have gone from an average of four hours to up to eight hours or more any given day. Commercial traffic lines to cross the border are at times in excess of six miles.”
Ryley added, “The tightening of the domestic U.S. market and decreased driver availability have resulted in premium shipping costs for cross-border shipments moving both directions as well as longer lead times for door-to-door shipments.”
CBP said it will review Laredo’s empty tractor-trailers pilot program for its effectiveness in June and a decision will be made before formally continuing or discontinuing the program.
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