Wait times for truck drivers needing to cross the US-Mexico border in Laredo, Texas are about to get shorter. The U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) just completed the World Trade Bridge’s new Free and Secure Trade (FAST) Lane.
This year, for the first time in history, Laredo surpassed Los Angeles as the nation’s busiest trade hub in the country. As trans-border freight between the U.S. and Mexico continues to rise, so do the wait times drivers face to cross the border.
The northbound FAST lane is for empty tractor-trailers to run directly across the bridge. The new lane was a $10 million project and is expected to drastically reduce wait times. The lane will be open to trucks owned by commercial carriers that fulfill certain eligibility requirements and complete background checks.
“The World Trade Bridge processes on average 16,000 trucks daily, carrying goods valued at more than $300 billion annually,” said U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Laredo). “The creation of this FAST Lane will streamline trade and promote economic growth in the region.”
The FAST Lane will operate Monday through Friday, 8:00 am to 4:00 pm. Around 500 empty trailers will be processed daily through the lane. CBP officials estimate that currently, they process around 8,000 northbound trucks daily at the World Trade Bridge facility. In June this year, 195,918 commercial vehicles crossed the bridge, a 0.7% increase from the previous year.
“The ever-growing traffic volumes have far exceeded the limits of the present facilities and we will work hand in glove with our stakeholders at the federal, state and local levels to assist with improvements that will facilitate traffic at the busiest cargo facility in the southwest border,” said David P. Higgerson, director of field operations at the CBP Laredo Field Office.
Trucking plays a crucial role in the U.S. economy as the majority of trans-border freight is moved by truck. Long wait times not only cost commercial carriers money but also impact the national economy.
“These improvements serve as vital assets to not only Laredo, but the entire United States economy,” said Laredo Mayor Pete Saenz.