July 24, 2008

Long Wait Times At Bridges Caused By New Software

Monica Balderrama-KFOX News Reporter

POSTED: 10:09 pm MDT July 23, 2008
UPDATED: 1:23 am MDT July 24, 2008

EL PASO, Texas -- Travelers crossing over to the United States from Mexico waited in line at the bridge for about an hour on Tuesday afternoon.

"About an hour. It's really hot, though. It makes it worst," said Nallely Carreon, from Durango, Mexico.

Depending on the time of day the wait times can spike to over two hours.

"The main problem today is the heat. It's too hot to cross over. We don't have air conditioner in the car," said Francisco Fonseca, from El Paso.

The reason for the long traffic lines has to do with new software that was installed two weeks ago.

"We're really moving into the latest technology. It's unfortunate that you have to have some impact to get there and the impact has been on the wait times," said Rick Lopez, Chief Customs and Border Protection Officer.

The freshly installed program gives customs agents the capability to screen arriving travelers. By asking for documents or an identification, the agents will be able to see a picture of the person.

"It basically allows us to conduct examinations of arriving vehicles and travelers in the most expeditious way," said Lopez.

But it hasn't been that way--at least not yet. It's a learning curve for officers.

"The officers are familiarizing themselves with the current system, how it operates. They're helping each other get through it," said Lopez.

And the end result will be traffic getting through much quicker.

"It just takes longer and it frustrates people," said Carreon.

The update installed recently is only phase one of a series of updates. Next week, there will be another pre-installation that will prepare the ports of entry for radio frequency identification technology. That is supposed to speed travel across the border, while further enhancing security

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