MCALLEN, RGV – It is perhaps telling that when Futuro McAllen’s board of directors were planning the lineup for a transportation forum they wanted to host that they looked beyond the ‘Medians on 10th Street’ issue.
One of the hot local items in McAllen right now is a decision by city leaders to work with TxDOT to put medians along the middle of 10th Street between Trenton and 107. Some local traders are opposed because they say it will hurt business. TxDOT says medians will reduce accidents.
While it still cares about McAllen, Futuro also wants to focus on bigger, regional transportation issues, in keeping with its decision to set up a sister organization called Futuro Now that will look far beyond civic life in McAllen.
The lineup for tonight’s Transportation – Get There Fast forum, which takes place at the McAllen Public Library Auditorium, starting at 6:30 p.m., reflects that wish to go regional. The four speakers are Julian Alvarez, president of the Rio Grande Partnership, Luis A. Bazán, interim director of the Pharr International Bridge, Sam Vale, president of the Starr-Camargo Bridge Company, and Liz Suarez, director of aviation for the City of McAllen.
Alvarez is also a board member of the Alliance for I-69 Texas and he will speak about where things are at with the development of I-69, which will have three routes going north from the South Texas border. Bazán will speak about infrastructure development on both sides of the Pharr Bridge and also about cross-border trade in general. Vale will speak about plans for loop for Starr County and how that will tie in with the planned Hidalgo County Loop and also his work with the Border Trade Alliance. Suarez will discuss expansion of the McAllen International Airport and aviation in general in the Rio Grande Valley.
“I am excited about the lineup we have put together for this transportation forum. It is an important issue for our fast growing region,” said Futuro McAllen/Futuro Now President Nedra Kinerk.
In a news release issued last June about the formation of Futuro Now, Kinerk said: We want to test the waters for a much bigger Futuro, one that takes on the bigger, regional issues facing the Rio Grande Valley. We are keen to hear from those in our neighboring communities who share our passion and would like to help form and shape a grassroots regional civic group, Futuro Now.”
Among the issues Futuro Now would focus on, Kinerk said in the news release, are top regional topics like healthcare, education, transportation, immigration and border security. “To our knowledge, there is not a regional, grassroots, civic group that is holding elected officials accountable on the big regional issues. Futuro Now seeks to fill this void.”
Panelists for Wednesday’s evening’s transportation forum said they are excited about participating.
“I am looking forward to participating in discussions with members of an organization that has a long standing successful ability to look into the future. That is a skill that is often ignored by all levels of government. They tend to prefer looking at past history to secure an average and then add a few points to predict the future. That more often than not is not a true indicator of what is to come,” Vale said.
“Communities like the counties and cities of the Rio Grande Valley have for too long looked at their success though the lenses of a parochial community and do not take into consideration the value that comes from creating a modern and efficient transportation system that serves all interests. Our competitors are not in the Rio Grande Valley and maybe not even south Texas but rather are business and communities of the world as we know it today. Who know what the future has in store for The Magic Valley?”
Bazán told the Rio Grande Guardian said it is important more people in the Valley know about the future trends for international trade with Mexico because the amount of truck traffic is expected to grow rapidly.
“I am very excited about the opportunity to present to Futuro Now. At the bridge we are all about opening doors and if we cannot open the doors others open them for us and we come right in. This is an opportunity for us to present to a whole different group of people that we have not presented to,” Bazán said.
“Our goal, at the end of the day, aside from being the fastest and most efficient bridge, is to make people aware of what we are doing. We were recently at a big conference in Mexico and some guy came up to me after the presentation and said, ‘I do not understand anything about what you guys do or your line of work but looking at that video and the way you walked us through it, I came to a good understanding of exactly what you do.’
“That is music to our ears. We want people to understand what we are doing here. We want people to know about the importance of our bridge. The bridge is not for our city, it is for the entire economy of the region. The economy on the U.S. side and on the Mexican side. It is an international economy. This is much bigger than one city. This crosses borders. I am excited about presenting to Futuro and cannot wait to see what comes out of it.”
Doors open at 6 p.m. at the McAllen Public Library for Futuro’s ‘Transportation – Get There Fast’ forum. The program starts at 6:30 p.m. After the four speakers have made their presentations there will be a Q&A session for members of the audience. The moderator will be Davis Rankin of KURV News Talk 710. The program will end at 8:30 p.m. The address for the McAllen Public Library is 4101 N. 23rd Street, McAllen. For more information contact about the event contact Nedra Kinerk at 956-330-2071.