Calif., Fla., Texas sites get customs program

Sites in Calif., Fla., Texas to take part in program to reduce wait times at customs stations

Associated Press

MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) -- Six locations in California, Florida and Texas are going to be taking part in a pilot program designed to reduce the time people have to wait while entering the country by having the sponsoring organization help pay the costs of additional border officers.

The Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport; El Paso, Texas; the South Texas Assets Consortium; Houston Airport System; and Miami-Dade County, in Florida, would join a project already underway between Tijuana, Mexico, and Otay Mesa, Calif.

The areas will make payments that will be used to cover salaries of additional staff, overtime and services such as inspections.

More than a dozen locations around the country applied for the program.

One of the groups to be rejected was Vermont's Jay Peak ski resort, which gets 55 percent of its business from Canada. The border is just a few miles from the resort.

Border Protection said the proposals from each applicant were reviewed and ranked based on criteria including the impact on current border operations, health and safety issues, and community and economic benefits. The agency will complete the negotiations with the five applicants by the end of the year.

The agency is also finalizing the terms of the Tijuana Cross Border Terminal, which will allow ticketed travelers to cross between the Tijuana airport and Otay Mesa. Construction on that project could begin at any time.

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