PHARR, RGV – The City of Pharr and Customs & Border Protection are set to sign a Memorandum of Understanding to cement their collaboration in further developing the Pharr International Bridge, says bridge director Luis Bazan.

CBP recently asked Bazan to give a presentation about the development of the Pharr bridge at a meeting of the U.S.-Mexico Binational Bridges & Border Crossing Group in Mexico City.

“That was an awesome meeting for Pharr. It gave us a chance to showcase our work in front of a very distinguished audience,” Bazan told the Rio Grande Guardian, upon his return from Mexico City.

The U.S.-Mexico Binational Bridges & Border Crossing Group is co-chaired by the Department of State and the Mexican Secretariat of Foreign Relations (SRE). Among the U.S. agencies represented in the group are CBP, the Department of Homeland Security, the General Services Administration, the U.S. Coast Guard, the Animal Plant Health Inspection Service, the Food & Drug Administration, and the International Boundary and Water Commission.

“I think CBP values what we do because our projects are so meaningful. They add so much value to cross-border trade and to the entire South Texas region,” Bazan said.

Among the new projects the Pharr Bridge Board are working on, Bazan said, are a dock expansion, an additional cold inspection facility and a new training center and laboratory.

“We are upping the ante. We are really working hard. We are getting prepared. We are following the process. We are taking it one step at a time. We want all of these projects completed yesterday but we understand there is a process to it,” Bazan said.

“Because our projects are so meaningful, because they add so much value to cross-border trade, CBP accepts and supports our projects. That is why we are currently working on an MOU with them to develop these projects inside our ports. We are hoping to get some good news here in the near future, hopefully by July about three other projects we have in the mix that we proposed to CBP back in December, 2015.”

Asked about his presentation in Mexico City, Bazan said: “We co-presented on May 18 with CBP’s Donations Acceptance Program Branch Chief out of Washington, D.C. We showed that we really are partners in this endeavor. The majority of projects CBP has accepted under the 559 program are our projects. These projects are going to dramatically improve infrastructure inside our port.”

A key component in Pharr International Bridge’s recent successes has been the federally approved 559 donations acceptance program, Bazan said. Under this program, CBP accepts local donations to help invest in infrastructure or manpower at international ports of entry. “CBP is using us as ambassadors for the 559 program. We are helping CBP sell the program to other ports of entry,” Bazan said.

Asked if Pharr is getting its name into the marketplace in Mexico, as a top international port of entry for trucking companies, Bazan paid tribute to Ezequiel Ordoñez, Pharr’s bridge liaison representative in Mexico.

“The work Ezequiel does for us in Mexico is outstanding. He opens so many doors for us,” Bazan said.

“We are making great strides. For example, I have been asked to speak on a panel at a supply chain conference in Mexico City. Events like this help. So many companies are learning there is a Pharr International Bridge and that we are the only fully-serviced commercial bridge in the region.

“I am a musician by skill and I like to say, let’s take this show on the road. It is like a tour for us. We visit with the folks we have to see. We get in front of the decision makers to make sure they know about Pharr. We are helping to bring more trade through the Rio Grande Valley.”

Editor’s Note: The main image accompanying this story shows Pharr Bridge Director Luis Bazan, Pharr Bridge Board Chairman Edgar Delgadillo, and Pharr’s bridge liaison representative in Mexico, Ezequiel Ordoñez.