( Courtesy Customs and Border Protection )

Construction has begun on a $40 million project to cut wait times for produce and other agricultural goods at a busy Texas port of entry.

Thirteen of 24 new secondary inspection bays at the Pharr-Reynosa International Bridge will include cold storage unit equipment to ensure inspections don’t harm produce shipments.

“With the continued increase of imports from Mexico, especially produce-related commodities, that require an inspection from our agriculture specialists, 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,” Carlos Rodriguez, Port of Hidalgo/Pharr/Anzalduas director, said in a news release.

The U.S. Customs and Border Protection, General Services Administration and City of Pharr, Texas, formed a partnership that allows the city to donate to the project.

“The additional cold storage bays will also serve proactively in maintaining the integrity of certain products while they are inspected in climate-controlled areas, rather than exposing them to the South Texas heat,” Rodriguez said in the release.

A 10,000-square-foot inspection and training facility will enhance the Custom and Border Protection’s agricultural specialist ability to detect pests, diseases and related testing on agricultural products.

The port processed nearly 1,800 commercial trucks transporting an average of more than $13 million worth of agricultural products each day in fiscal year 2019, according to the release, which is nearly 15% of all fresh produce imported into the U.S.

“The City of Pharr remains committed to working with our federal partners to identify and implement innovative methods to expedite traffic and trade at our international port of entry, making border crossings and inspections function more effectively while helping our trade partners process and cross their goods more efficiently,” Pharr Mayor Ambrosio Hernandez said in the release.

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