MISISON, RGV – The City of Mission is forging ahead with plans to complete the long-dormant Madero International Bridge Project.

At a special meeting of the Mission Economic Development Corporation, the group approved the hiring of Pathfinder Public Affairs, a government affairs consulting firm, to help with the process.

As the clock winds down on the bridge permit’s 2021 expiration date, MEDC CEO Alex Meade emphasized the need to get things in order and move quickly. Hiring Pathfinder Public Affairs, who consulted on the Anzalduas International Bridge, is the first step. Richard Perez, a liaison for Pathfinder, says the next is getting the project onto TxDot’s Border Master Plan list for the Lower Rio Grande Valley – Tamaulipas.

Mission City Manager Martin Garza, Jr. agreed.

“If we do not have our name on that list in the Transportation Department form, then we don’t get any funding from TxDot regarding that project,” Garza said. “…Right now, we’re not in there, and there’s already people on that list. So, we got to somehow get our way in and then, hopefully, gradually move up.”

Meade points out that it will be a “very long, very lengthy process” that will most likely spill over into the next legislative session.

In the meantime, the city is tackling items on their end. The purchase of 100 acres near Madero for the General Services Administration (GSA) is planned in the coming months. Garza says that at the next Anzalduas International Bridge Board meeting, it will be discussed as to what entity – the board or city – will make the required acquisition.

The final and most crucial pieces of the puzzle are the feasibility and environmental studies. The Anzalduas International Bridge Board contracted S & B Engineers and Constructors, Ltd. to conduct the feasibility study, with city officials confident it will show the need for a second bridge in the area. A similar study on the Mexican side is already 95 percent complete, and officials hope to have both in place by June.

The findings will dictate how the cities attached to the project – McAllen, Mission and Hidalgo – will move forward and, more importantly, coordinate traffic. The presidential permit that former Mission Mayor Arnaldo Ramirez received in 1978 for the Madero International Bridge allows for commercial, residential and/or rail traffic. Uniquely, it is the only rail permit between Laredo and Brownsville, and, should plans go in that direction, Texas Transportation Commission Chair J. Bruce Bugg, Jr. is ready to help. Still, officials believe the more likely scenario will involve splitting commercial and residential traffic between Anzalduas and Madero, relegating one type to each.

“It becomes a safety concern, being on top of a bridge with a mixture of the trucks and the residential vehicular traffic,” said Garza.

Mission Mayor Norberto “Beto” Salinas has been one of the bridge’s most vocal proponents throughout the years. As he is currently running for re-election for possibly the last time, Salinas is working hard to see the project come to fruition. In collaboration with the Hidalgo County Metropolitan Planning Organization, Salinas was able to obtain $19.1 million to improve infrastructure around the proposed site. This includes plans to widen Inspiration Road and Military Highway in anticipation of increased traffic.

As everything is coming together, Garza is hopeful they will see a groundbreaking before the 2021 deadline, or, at the very least, have ammunition to request another extension.

“We feel very strong that if we have a positive study, that if we get on the [Border] Master Plan, and if we have acquired the 100 acres we need for the GSA, and that we have an environmental study that is positive – if we have all those components – we feel very strong that the [U.S.] Department of State will provide an extension.”

It is yet to be seen how things will turn out, but for Mission’s part, a strong, strategic plan is now in play.

Editor’s Note: The main image accompanying the above story shows McAllen Mayor Jim Darling and Mission Mayor Beto Salinas at Salinas’s Mayor’s Brunch event, held before the 2018 Citrus Parade. The cities of McAllen and Mission are working together on the Madero International Bridge project.