Pharr bridge expects some diverted Laredo traffic

PHARR — The Pharr-Reynosa International Bridge is one of several border crossings that are handling diverted truck traffic from Laredo’s bustling World Trade Bridge after it sustained damaged during a storm Sunday night.

The Laredo bridge is expected to reopen by this weekend in accordance with a plan put together during a meeting between Customs and Border Protection and Servicio de Administracion Tributaria, the Mexican CBP equivalent, according to Pharr Bridge Director Luis Bazan.

The World Trade Bridge handles around 15,000 truck crossings per day, Bazan said. The Colombia Solidarity Bridge in Laredo is the first bridge trucks are being rerouted to, and beyond that trucks are being diverted to bridges in Eagle Pass, Pharr and Brownsville.

To handle the expected increase in truck traffic, the city of Pharr is paying overtime to help with bridge staffing.

“We’re also paying additional overtime for all commodities so we can accelerate the flow of commercial traffic,” Bazan said.

Bazan did not yet know what the increase of truck traffic will look like. But the Pharr Bridge is the only full service bridge in the area, with full and empty cargo trucks crossing north and southbound.

“Some of the delays at Colombia Solidarity Bridge have been alleviated by adjusting security procedures, opening additional lanes, and extending operating hour,” U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Laredo, said in a statement. “The damage at the World Trade Bridge has been assessed, and we expect it to re-open this weekend. I will continue to personally monitor the issue and encourage any constituents with concerns to contact my office.”

Strong winds Sunday afternoon ripped roofing off port-of-entry buildings, flipped over tractor-trailers, knocked out power and soaked computers on the Mexican side. Downed power poles and billboards block access to the bridge. Facilities on the U.S. side suffered similar roof damage and experienced flooding in offices.

There were no reported injuries according to the CBP report.