EL PASO – An expected doubling of the populations of Cd. Juárez and El Paso by 2035 would cause dramatic delays at the border bridges resulting in a threat to business in both cities instead of providing larger markets.
By 2035 the combined population of both cities is expected to reach 3.4 million, compared to 1.1 million in 1980 and nearly 2 million today. According to a study by the Texas Department of Transportation, the continuous population growth will cause wait times on international bridges to increase from two hours today to almost four hours 25 years from now.
The extended wait times will provoke a negative effect in El Paso-Juárez business, said Dr. Gary Hedrick, assistant professor of finance at the University of Texas at El Paso. “Businesses in the area have [already]been affected, but neither the government nor the people have realized the threat,” Hedrick said.
The transportation department’s study reveals that the international ports of entry would reach their maximum operational capacity by 2035.
The Puente Internacional de las Americas would be the most affected port of entry. Some of the effects, according to the study, will be the loss of more than $54 billion and 850,000 jobs along both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border, primarily related to the import-export of goods. Competitiveness between businesses would also be affected. “We need to consider this as an increasing partnership,” said Richard Dayoub, President and CEO of the Greater El Paso Chamber of Commerce.
“This is an ongoing problem that started 30 years ago,” said Dayoub. He said that El Paso representatives in the U.S. Congress have not evaluated the importance of this problem to the import and export of goods with Mexico, as well as billions of dollars’ worth of revenue to the United States. “They [representatives]need to try to understand how critical the El Paso economy is to our country – over $70 billion dollars were involved in commercial trade alone in this border in 2010, plus an average of 2,376 jobs per billion dollars worth of exports,” he said.
The Chamber of Commerce has been working intensively with state representatives to obtain the necessary funds to resolve this issue, he said. “We have continuously worked with the government to receive the necessary funds, but it is not their decision,” said Dayoub adding, “REDCO [El Paso Regional Economic Development Corporation] wants to implement a new concept to transport commercial goods from the U.S. to Mexico and the other way around.”
Dayoub said that the plan and possible solution to the congestion problem would be to open a new smaller bridge exclusively for commercial traffic.