Morales: International Bridge Trade Corridor will be ‘a huge boost for the Donna economy’

Donna Mayor Ric Morales thanks Gov. Greg Abbott, the Texas Transportation Commission, and Chairman Terry Canales for securing $150 million for IBTC.

DONNA, Texas – Donna Mayor Ric Morales says construction of the International Bridge Trade Corridor (IBTC) will be a “game changer” for his city.

The Texas Transportation Commission last week adopted its 2024 Uniform Transportation Program (UTP). It includes $150 million to support the construction of the IBTC project in Hidalgo County. 

The IBTC is a proposed non-tolled, four-lane divided roadway that would provide direct interstate access for the Donna and Pharr international bridges and expedite the movement of goods and freight through the border region. 

Because most of the IBTC will go through Donna, the city effectively gets a new interstate, Morales said.

“I can’t wait for construction to get started on the IBTC. It is going to be a huge, absolutely huge, boost for the Donna economy. Having a second expressway going from Interstate 2 south towards the international bridges is huge,” Morales said.

State Rep. Terry Canales, chairman of the Texas House Committee on Transportation, first announced details of the UTP. The Edinburg lawmaker said it schedules an historic $100 billion for transportation projects over the next ten years, including approximately $3.6 billion to be allocated to the Pharr TxDOT District. 

The Pharr District includes the following counties: Hidalgo, Cameron, Starr, Willacy, Zapata, Jim Hogg, Brooks, and Kenedy.

Canales confirmed that the 2024 UTP allocates $150 million to support the construction of IBTC in Hidalgo County. He said the new trade corridor is an important component of the long-term infrastructure plan for the Rio Grande Valley, and it will serve a critical role in diverting commercial truck traffic from local neighborhoods onto the state highway system. He said the project will also streamline trade across the region and is a major investment in economic development and trade opportunities that will yield dividends for the entire State of Texas.

“I am proud to have played a role in securing this historic 100-billion-dollar investment in our state’s infrastructure. I would like to thank Transportation Commission Chairman Bruce Bugg and the Transportation Commission, Governor Greg Abbott, Speaker Dade Phelan, and Senate Transportation Chairman Robert Nichols for their partnership in getting us to this point. Together, we are working to ensure that Texas remains the premier destination for people and businesses,” Canales said. 

“I would also like to applaud the RGV MPO (Metropolitan Planning Organization) and our local elected officials for their advocacy for the IBTC Corridor which is a major step in making the Rio Grande Valley an economic juggernaut. This funding is proof that our state’s leaders recognize the economic significance of the RGV to the entire state of Texas, and the overall level of South Texas funding in this UTP reflects our region’s growing importance.”

Morales said he would like to thank Gov. Greg Abbott, the Texas Transportation Commission and Chairman Canales for their work in finding the funds for IBTC. He said the $150 million can be added to new funding for the Donna-Rio Bravo International Bridge.

“We just floated bonds from Corporation 4A and Corporation 4B in the city. And we’re also getting an $8.9 million grant from TxDOT. And the feds are also putting in several million dollars. All of it towards the Donna Bridge,” Morales explained.

“So, between the $150 million from the state and the other, basically, $9 million from TxDOT and, I’m not sure, I think it’s $50 to $20 million that the feds are putting in, collectively, you put that together and that’s a huge boost for the City of Donna.”

Morales said IBTC will connect the Donna and Pharr international bridges through a new east-west corridor, with a north-south connector reaching I-2 between Valley View and Val Verde Road.  

“This will provide an absolutely great economic boost for the City of Donna. The future of Donna looks very, very good,” Morales said. “And another thing, it is going to take all those trucks that right now are going through 23rd Street and 10th Street and Alamo Road, and the roads there in San Juan. It is going to take them all off those roads and it’s all going to cut through the IBTC new highway that’s being built in Donna.”

Asked when the Donna International Bridge will be ready for fully-loaded cargo, both north- and south-bound, Morales said: “Construction should start sometime in January. In about four to six months we’ll start construction on commercializing the bridge. Construction is going to take between 14 to 18 months. So, within the next two years, the next 24 months, we should be crossing fully-loaded trucks at the Donna-Rio Bravo Bridge, in both directions.”

Asked when Donna would start getting new warehouses built to accommodate the additional trade USMCA and near-shoring is generating, Morales said: “Well, you know Mike Rhodes of Rhodes Enterprises. He is the leading developer in that area. And they’re just kind of waiting for us to kick off the construction (of the bridge). I do know that they have a rather large project which I’m not at liberty to discuss right now. That project is probably going to double the size of the ad valorem tax base for the City of Donna. Right now we’re at $1.1 billion in ad valorem tax value, and we’re going to probably double that within the next 36 months – thanks to all the development around the bridge.”

Editor’s Note: The above news story is the first in a two-part series on the City of Donna and International Trade Bridge Corridor. Part Two will be posted in our next edition.

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