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Why aren't commercial trucks moved away from international bridges in the heart of El Paso

Carlos sent me a question about traffic congestion at El Paso's international bridges: "Why don't they make all the trucks use the Tornillo and Santa Teresa ports of entry instead of the more congested bridges that run through the city of El Paso?"

I put that question to the city's International Bridges Department and the department's spokeswoman, Tammy Fonce, emailed me a response.

She pointed out that the only city-owned bridge that currently takes commercial traffic is the Zaragoza bridge, also known as the Ysleta port of entry.

The downtown bridges on Santa Fe and Stanton streets, which are also owned by the city, don't take commercial traffic, while the Bridge of the Americas in south-central El Paso is owned by the International Boundary and Water Commission.

The Tornillo port of entry replaced the Fabens bridge with the goal of moving more commercial traffic outside the city of El Paso to a less congested area. But Fonce says the Tornillo crossing currently can't take commercial traffic because Mexico hasn't yet built the access and infrastructure needed to take commercial vehicles. But that is the long-term goal of the region's newest international bridge.

The Santa Teresa port in New Mexico was also built back in the 1990s to help move commercial traffic away from El Paso's bridges.

Fonce says companies choose the international bridge that works best for their production schedules and locations. For example, she said a lot of truck traffic has moved from the Bridge of the Americas to the Zaragoza bridge in recent years, as more maquilas and other businesses move to the east side of Juarez and El Paso's far east side.

So there is an effort to move truck traffic away from the heart of El Paso, but there's been so much growth in that traffic through the years, it's hard to tell.

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