MCALLEN, RGV – McAllen Mayor Jim Darling said that the city is moving forward with plans to have full commercial traffic at the Anzalduas International Bridge by the end of 2018.
Since August 2016, the bridge has allowed empty southbound trucks to cross into Mexico. Now, design plans are being finalized for fully loaded trucks to cross the bridge in either direction, giving commercial drivers the option of another port of entry. The plan is to have a joint inspection facility on the north side of the bridge.
“Pharr does a great job over there, but it’s one bridge,” said Darling. “There’s just so much potential in our area to only have one. So, we need to get commercial traffic on another bridge.”
Asked when the bridge may ready to handle loaded trucks going both north- and southbound, Darling said: “I am shooting for the end of 2018. That is why we want to get the design done and get construction going. We are working on that, state monies, federal monies. They have to get their act together in Washington and set a budget and get some funding (going). We will get it done.
Asked how much a joint inspection facility would cost, Darling said “It depends what they do on the Mexican side. It will be relatively inexpensive. We have heard anywhere between $28 million, $40 million, maybe $32 million. We are hoping to get some state funding for it, and some federal funding, maybe do a little debt service, we will make it work. We just need to get all our ducks in a row. It is not an easy process.”
Darling said he wanted to move fast because the Mexican presidential election is in the summer of 2018. “I don’t want to start all over again with a new administration. I think it is important we do the push this year,” Darling said.
To get the estimated $32 million-dollar project going, Darling says the city is considering hiring someone in Washington D.C. to guide them through the process. They would like for everything to be in place before the Mexican presidential election on July 1, 2018 to avoid hiccups with the new administration.
City officials are also working with U.S. Customs and Border Patrol and Mexican officials to establish a joint inspection facility on the north side of the bridge. Under this scenario, both U.S. and Mexican customs would inspect trucks on the north side. Darling hopes for better coordination and reduced wait times with a one-stop station similar to that in San Diego and the Inbound Unified Cargo Processing pilot at the Rio Grande City-Camargo International Bridge.
As traffic is inspected to increase, the city is looking into adopting technologies to facilitate faster and safer crossings. To that end, Darling announced plans to visit the port authority at Nogales, Arizona for two days – Sunday and Monday – at the request of CBP. Along with the Mexican concessionaire, Darling and a few city officials will be shown the latest in cutting-edge technology used by the different ports of entry there in anticipation of incorporating them at Anzalduas.
“We don’t have the technology now at all, and so we’re going to skip the medial, existing technology and go to the future technologies … so, that’s evolving very quickly now,” said Darling.
With all that is planned for the Anzalduas International Bridge, Darling is calling it the “port of the future” – a vision he hopes to actualize soon.