FAST lane for trucks makes Laredo debut

| 4/19/2004

A FAST lane aimed at cutting border wait times for some trucks from hours to minutes opened April 15 at the World Trade Bridge in Laredo, TX, The Associated Press reported.

The Free and Secure Trade, or FAST, lane is the second along the U.S.-Mexico border. FAST lanes also are planned by the end of the year at Otay Mesa, CA; El Calexico, CA; Nogales, AZ; and Hidalgo and Brownsville, TX.

The lane was opened at a ceremony with Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Robert Bonner and his Mexican counterpart, Administrator General Jose Guzman-Montalvo.

Trucks eligible for the lane are cleared in advance. Bonner said the program worked by assuring security at three points: the point of manufacture, the trucking company and the actual driver.

The manufacturers are already part of the Customs Trade Partnership Against Terrorism; the truck companies validate that they meet security standards, and the truckers undergo background checks.

More than 130 companies have already enrolled, including Sony electronics, IBM and General Motors.

The Laredo crossing has about 1.2 million trucks crossing it each year, and as many as 4,000 per day.