HARLINGEN, Texas (Border Report) — A new vehicle inspection system is being installed at the busiest commercial port for truckers on the Southwest border, U.S. Customs and Border Protection has announced.
The system is being constructed at the World Trade Bridge in Laredo, Texas, as part of a modernized pre-primary inspection area to scan trucks for contraband and to quickly move vehicles to facilitate trade with Mexico, the agency said.
CBP says the project involves putting in non-intrusive inspection equipment that will scan vehicles that have crossed the border before they cross U.S. primary inspection booths.
The World Trade Bridge “is the most important truck crossing on the United States/Mexican border,” according to a 2020 report by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration.
In Fiscal Year 2022, over 2.3 million trucks crossed the bridge. So far in Fiscal 2023, nearly 2.5 million trucks have used this port of entry, according to data from the City of Laredo.
Construction of the NII Multi Energy Portal began this week, and the project is expected to be completed in April.
“Once complete, the MEP portals will scan commodities arriving from Mexico. CBP officers will adjudicate the images and in turn detect contraband and similar security threats promptly,” Laredo Port Director Alberto Flores said in a statement. “The goal of this newly implemented technology is to enhance border security, all while facilitating the efficient flow of trade into the U.S.”
Last month, a group of Texas lawmakers asked the White House to expedite approval for the expansion of the World Trade Bridge without having to wait for environmental assessments to be completed. They say expansion of this popular port is necessary to keep trade flowing with Mexico.
While construction is underway on the non-intrusive inspection equipment, CBP says empty commercial trucks will be re-routed to FAST lanes.