WESLACO, RGV – Brownsville Mayor Tony Martinez is not yet ready to support a united Metropolitan Planning Organization for the Rio Grande Valley.
Currently, there are three MPOs for the region – Hidalgo County MPO, Harlingen-San Benito MPO, and Brownsville MPO. Discussions have been taking place between the three and the Texas Department of Transportation to evaluate the merits of a merger. MPOs are the local conduit for state and federal transportation dollars.
Last week, state Sen. Juan Hinojosa predicted the three Valley MPOs would merge before the end of the year. He said this would result in more than $100 million additional transportation funds coming to the region.
However, in an interview following a meeting of the Lower Rio Grande Valley Development Council on Wednesday, Mayor Martinez said such talk was premature.
“We don’t have any definition (of how a united MPO would work) and we are seeking something. We have explored it to a great deal. We haven’t gotten the answers. I appreciate what the congressmen or senators all talk about but we are not going to be bullied into anything that is not in the best interests of the City of Brownsville. Punto, punkt, period, adios,” Martinez said.
Asked to comment on the argument that a united MPO would be able to draw down more transportation dollars, Martinez said: “I have not seen anything of that nature. They keep saying there is money and then sometimes they will throw out, well, there is going to be ten, 11 million dollars. I am a lawyer by trade. Unless I see it in writing, unless I have got something I can verify, you know, as far as I am concerned, it is not worth the breath you expend on telling me.”
Click here to read the Rio Grande Guardian’s recent story on a united MPO which quoted Sen. Hinojosa, Pharr Mayor and Hidalgo County MPO Chairman Ambrosio Hernandez, Pharr District Engineer for TxDOT Pete Alvarez, and Cameron County Regional Mobility Authority Executive Director Pete Sepulveda.
Transportation issues were discussed at Wednesday’s LRGVDC meeting. Rio Grande Valley Partnership President Sergio Contreras invited LRGVDC board members to a luncheon RGVP is hosting at the Edinburg Conference Center at Renaissance next Tuesday with the new Texas Transportation Commission Chairman J. Bruce Bugg, Jr. Contreras said he got the idea from a “state of the region’s transportation” event held in San Antonio.
“We are calling it the 1st Annual State of Regional Mobility and Infrastructure Luncheon – RGV,” Contreras said. Also slated to speak at the event are Sen. Hinojosa, a member of the Senate Committee on Transportation, state Rep. Armando Martinez, vice chair of the House Committee on Transportation, and Alvarez, TxDOT’s Pharr district engineer.