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RFID Eases Border-Crossing Traffic

The Mexican and U.S. governments worked together to automate toll collection.
By Samuel Greengard
Sep 10, 2012—Every day, thousands of vehicles stream across the international border between Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, and El Paso, Texas. Many Mexican citizens are daily commuters, driving to jobs and school, as well as to visit family members. In some cases, lines into the United States can snake for a mile or more, and it can take hours to travel across the Ysleta-Zaragoza International Bridge, which spans the Rio Grande.

An RFID-based automated toll-collection system, deployed roughly a decade ago to ease bridge traffic, would often break down or fail to function with some tags. "The previous system had become obsolete," says Pedro Dorantes, the Ysleta-Zaragoza International Bridge's director of operations.

Grupo Cadi designed and built the electronic toll-collection system.

Promofront—which operates the international bridge for the Mexican government and has collected tolls since 1991—and the Mexican government both recognized the need for a more efficient system several years ago. In May 2012, Promofront switched to an advanced RFID system. The Mexican and U.S. governments worked in collaboration with the company—as well as with its technology provider, Grupo Cadi—to develop and implement the custom-designed technology solution.

The Ysleta-Zaragoza International Bridge actually comprises two separate bridges: one with four lanes for commercial vehicles, and another with four lanes for passenger vehicles and two walkways for pedestrians. The RFID solution was deployed on the passenger bridge. Motorists who pass a security check, pay a fee and purchase an RFID tag for their vehicles can drive through the crossing with little or no wait.

In the United States, RFID is increasingly being employed to automate toll collection for roads, bridges and tunnels. In addition, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), a division of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), has begun using the technology to gauge backups and help ease commercial congestion at five ports of entry in Texas (see RFID Readers Installed at U.S. Mexican Bridge Help Ease Traffic Congestion). CBP and some states have also turned to RFID-enabled travel documents—including passports and Enhanced Driver's Licenses—to streamline passport checks at borders.
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