MISSION, RGV – On Monday, Aug. 22, the cities of McAllen and Mission will roll out their first empty truck southbound on the Anzalduas International Bridge.

McAllen contributed approximately $1.1 million for renovations on the Mexican side of the Anzalduas bridge. Historically, this is the first time a United States municipality made a financial contribution of this kind to the Mexican federal government.

McAllen Mayor Jim Darling
McAllen Mayor Jim Darling

According to a press release from the City of McAllen, Mayor Jim Darling said it has been more than two years of planning for this moment and now it is finally going to be a reality.

“From a commerce standpoint, this is going to be a critical improvement for maquiladoras because they’ll be able to shorten the time it takes to return empty transporters saving not only time, but money and helping the environment,” Darling said in the press release. “The first international public-private partnership is now implemented.”

Rigo Villarreal, superintendent of bridges for McAllen, said a majority of the money came from 25 cent of the tolls taken at bridge that were being set aside. Other funds came from the Coordinated Border Infrastructure (CBI) money allocated to McAllen back in 2007.

The renovations for the bridge include an exclusive lane for southbound empties and heightening the canopies to allow trucks to pass through. According to the press release, under the inter-institutional agreement of cooperation with the Secretaría de Comunicaciones y Transportes of the Estados Unidos Mexicanos, McAllen will recoup their costs and Mexico will receive 20 percent of the toll revenues collected.

Anzalduas Bridge has an average of about 85,000 passenger vehicles crossing southbound every month. Now that those numbers are expected to increase, it’s likely the bridge will get more traffic both northbound and southbound. The increase in traffic can potentially leads to the construction of two more northbound lanes in the future.

“The maquila association and Index Reynosa have been extremely supportive of our efforts to get southbound empties and northbound empties,” Villarreal told the Rio Grande Guardian. “And rightfully so, there’s between 38 to 45 percent of the maquilas (in Reynosa) just a few miles away from the Anzalduas bridge. So, there’d be a huge cost savings, it’d be a time savings, there’d be lesser fuel emissions up in our atmosphere. There are a lot of benefits from Anzalduas opening as quickly as possible.”

Mission Mayor Norberto “Beto” Salinas proposed another bridge alongside the Anzalduas Bridge. The City of Mission has a presidential permit, making the project likely to occur. Villarreal said with the amount of growth the area is experiencing, there’s always room for another bridge.

“The Anzalduas Bridge Board is currently going through the process of getting a traffic and feasibility study done. Mexico is doing the same on their side,” Villarreal said. “So, that’s step number one–to see if there’s a need. Once that’s determined you continue with the next step.”

Spanning 3.2 miles, Anzalduas International Bridge officially opened for traffic at 6 a.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 15, 2009. The cities of Hidalgo, Mission and McAllen worked together to make the southbound empties project come to life, Villarreal added.