U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has started work on expanding the Pharr Port of Entry, one of the busiest border crossing points for commercial trucks from Mexico.

The expansion is aimed at enhancing commercial agriculture processing at the Pharr-Reynosa International Bridge by adding 24 new secondary inspection bays, according to a news release.

“With the continued increase of imports from Mexico, especially produce-related commodities, having these additional dock spaces will have a significant positive impact on our ability to expedite the processing time and get shipments on their way into U.S. commerce,” said Carlos Rodriguez, director for the ports of Hidalgo/Pharr/Anzalduas.

Thirteen of the new inspection bays will include cold storage unit equipment to allow produce to be examined in a controlled manner, Rodriguez added.

Pharr had 623,155 truck crossings during fiscal year 2018-19.

The Pharr-Reynosa International Bridge accounts for 70% of the produce entering the U.S. from Mexico, according to Luis Bazan, the Pharr-Reynosa bridge director.

“To see traffic on the bridge right now, that’s movement of goods, that is commerce, that is international trade,” Bazan said during a recent groundbreaking ceremony for the expansion. “That’s why we’re putting these projects on the ground, to eliminate wait times, to make this port of entry the fastest, the most secure and most efficient port of entry.”

In 2019, the Pharr Port of Entry accounted for $36.68 billion in two-way trade, according to data from WorldCity. The port of entry is the third-ranked port in Texas and the 31st-ranked port for total trade among the nation’s roughly 450 airports, seaports and border crossings.

Mexico accounted for 96% of Pharr’s trade during 2019, with top imports being TVs and computer monitors, avocados, strawberries, blueberries and raspberries. The top exports included liquefied natural gas and motor vehicle parts.

“We continue to be the No. 1 produce bridge in the nation. We’ve also seen goods from the automotive sector, the energy sector and technology cross the bridge,” Bazan said. “One of the new sectors that we’re crossing through this bridge is construction. So we’re crossing a lot of steel and a lot of plastics to this bridge as well. “

The project will also include the construction of a new 10,000-square-foot CBP agriculture inspection and training facility.

The bridge’s expansion project is underway and scheduled to be completed in spring 2022.

Under CBP’s Donations Acceptance Program, the city of Pharr will help fund the $40 million project, said Pharr Mayor Ambrosio Hernandez.

“We want to grow our bridge infrastructure at Pharr so that all of the state of Texas and the nation will benefit,” Hernandez said.

Click for more FreightWaves articles by Noi Mahoney.

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