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Long waits at border herald fall ag season
SAN LUIS, Ariz. — The arrival of fall and the agricultural season has led to heavier traffic and longer car lines at the border, prompting police here to remind motorists to exercise patience and follow traffic regulations.
Traffic congestion is an annual fact of life in this border city in the fall and winter months, as seasonal farmworkers commute from their homes in Mexico to fields in the Yuma area. And San Luis Police Lt. Blanca Silva said this year is no exception.
“This year it seems the season of heavy traffic came a little sooner than normal,” she said, “and one of the problems that it causes are the long lines (of vehicles) headed for Mexico.”
In the afternoon and evening hours, vehicles routinely back up for blocks along Main Street as farmworkers and others wait to return to Mexico at the end of a day of work or shopping on this side of the border.
The southbound lines hamper the flow of east- and westbound traffic if cars bound for Mexico happen to block intersections along Main, Silva said.
The increase in traffic has prompted the police department to assign additional officers as well as volunteers and members of Police Explorers unit to provide traffic control on Main Street.
“What we are going to ask the people to do is to avoid blocking the intersections because that has a big effect for those who are traveling east and west or in the opposite direction,” Silva said. “In the last few years, we have received many complaints about that.”
Based on past years' experience, Silva predicted the problem of long southbound lines will be most severe during the evening hours on Fridays, Saturdays and Mondays.
“This is something that will be hard to solve until (the port of entry into Mexico) is expanded,” permitting more vehicles to cross the border at any one time.
Silva said the department is looking at several proposals to ease congestion, among them rerouting Mexico-bound traffic along Plaza Drive and/or along Urtuzuastegui Street.
Either plan has drawbacks, she said. Sending traffic along Plaza Drive would affect merchants in the downtown area, she said, while vehicles traveling along Urtuzuastegui could end up in traffic jams with cars entering San Luis from Mexico.
Silva said motorists who have complaints or questions about downtown traffic can call the police department at 341-2420.