WESLACO, RGV – The Rio Grande Guardian’s latest livestream interview on Facebook takes place Monday afternoon at 2 p.m. It is with Andrew Canon, director of Hidalgo County Metropolitan Planning Organization.

Andrew Canon

The livestream came about after Canon gave a presentation to McAllen Economic Development Corporation’s board of directors. McAllen EDC President Keith Patridge had asked Canon to give a presentation because, Patridige believed, many members of his board do not fully understand the role of the MPO. “And these are some of the most well-informed people in the city,” Patridge told the Rio Grande Guardian.

Canon agreed that many people in Hidalgo County do not understand the scope of the MPO’s work.

“People approach me still, now, after doing this job 14 years. People think I work for the county, I do not. Some believe I work for the state, I do not. I am 100 percent paid by the federal government. My salary comes from the highway administration and the federal transit administration,” Canon said.

“We are a federally-mandated program, we work independent from any municipality, with the exception that I have 22 bosses, which make up all the municipalities and the county, as well as our RMA and transit partners that serve on our board.”

In his presentation to MEDC, Canon said the MPO’s job is to address the mobility goals of the urbanized area of Hidalgo County.

“That means transit, added capacity highway projects, and roadway projects. We also do quite a bit on hike and bike trails, and working with TxDOT on ADA compliance and sidewalks, as needed. We administer all federal funds that come to Hidalgo County in the way of transportation funding. If it is co-mingled with Texas funds, through the state, we are responsible for administering those funds as well.”

Canon and his staff work on a 25-year, $2.5 billion, plan.

“We cannot put any project in any plan that does not have funding identified for it. Period. I am unable to plan anything that does not have money for it.”

The topics that might come up in one hour livestream include the possibility of merging the Rio Grande Valley’s three MPOs, TxDOT’s work on Bicentennial Boulevard in McAllen, TxDOT’s work on the I-2/I-69 Central interchange at Pharr, the Hidalgo County Loop, State Highway 68, Hidalgo County’s role in building a new east-west corridor to Starr County in the west and a second causeway to South Padre Island in the east, light rail, hike and bike trails, along with many others.

To submit a question, contact Steve Taylor at [email protected], or comment while the livestream is underway. The Rio Grande Guardian‘s Facebook address is: https://www.facebook.com/rgguardian/