DHS reports decrease in traffic at Valley international crossings
On March 20, the Department of Homeland Security enacted travel restrictions along the U.S.-Mexico border. Since then, there has been a decrease along major international bridges in the Rio Grande Valley.
DHS reports there is an overall 50% decrease in traffic across the southwest border. As of April 17, vehicular traffic is down 58% and pedestrian traffic is down 73%.
Locally, the numbers follow a similar trend. In Cameron County, at three ports-of-entry - Veterans, Gateway and Free Trade international bridges – numbers are going down.
“It's brought the privately owned vehicle to 55-50% of where we've usually been at. In the pedestrian side, we're down even further than that. We're down to about 40-45% of where we've been in the past. As far as commercial traffic, a lot of the plants are not working at 100% across the border. Nonetheless, they keep working. So, we're anywhere between 65-70% of where we usually are,” explained Josue Garcia Jr., Cameron County bridge director.
Hours at those bridges were curtailed.
At the Anzalduas International Bridge, it’s seeing a downtrend, too. Juan Olaguibel, McAllen’s interim superintendent of bridges, compared a day this week to the same day last year. He found a 53% decline in vehicular traffic and a 68% drop in pedestrians.
At the Rio Grande City-Camargo International Bridge, the decline is not steep. When comparing the month of March from 2019 to 2020, there is a decrease in vehicular traffic of 30%, but there is an increase in commercial traffic by 10% and a 9% increase in pedestrians crossing.
The chief financial officer for Camargo International Bridge told CHANNEL 5 NEWS there are a lot of factors to consider. For them, the pedestrians have been increasing since the bridge shutdowns sparked by migrant protests prolonged bridge times. They’ve seen steady growth in people preferring to walk rather than drive into Mexico.