City approves plan to make border bridges more efficient, make wait times move faster

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    The city of El Paso just approved $33.3 million plan to make the international bridges across the Borderland move faster and become more efficient.

    Some people hope the city can turn its ideas into reality.

    "Hopefully it really does work and they really implement it fast," Diana Gutierrez said.

    "Hopefully they'll pay off and hopefully they'll stay under budget,” Edgar Salgado said. “It's the taxpayers’ money."

    The plan to implement these improvements won’t happen overnight.

    "This five-year project for projects is fully funded by bridge users,” David Coronado, the director of International Bridges Department, said. “We're not tapping into the general fund. We're not increasing taxes. So the funding comes from the tolls."

    However, Coronado said it will cost someone to get the projects completed. The department recommended to City Council to roll back the total amount of money used to pay Customs and Border Protection's overtime. The overtime agreement has been adjusted and renewed on an annual basis since 2014. The cut would result in a $684,606 decrease per year in the overtime fund.

    "We can just keep adding more overtime and throwing money at overtime. We want to make sure we invest in the bridge system, add more capacity, construction projects to improve the experience for pedestrians, vehicles and trucks,” Coronado said.

    “And so, it's not just a short-term solution but, we want to also think long-term and improve the bridge system as a whole."

    Coronado added the city would not be able to afford the $2.2 million overtime fund it had last year. So, in order to keep it, the fund had to be scaled back. He also adds the funds from the cut would be put into the improvement plan.

    Projects to make the bridges faster and more efficient will take time to complete. Coronado said will be feasible to get whatever they have planned done within the five years.

    But, how the projects get done could change.

    "There may be new projects like it added to it, better cost estimates, projects that are completed or removed. So priorities shift overtime,” Coronado said.

    “This five-year plan we know we can actually fund it with P3 dollars for the next five years."

    CBP union president John Monahan told CBS4 the rollback won’t impact his officers too much. The agreement was decided to be implemented by the city in the first place so, it’s their decision to continue it according to Monahan.

    He also said he welcomes the idea of projects that could improve bridge traffic.

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