PHARR Texas – The City of Pharr held a groundbreaking ceremony last Thursday for $40 million worth of infrastructure projects at the Pharr International Bridge.

Funding for the projects has come about thanks to the Donations Acceptance Program, a mechanism by which local funds can go towards federal projects.

Pharr Mayor Ambrosio Hernandez gave remarks at the groundbreaking ceremony. He said that in addition to the $40 million being spent at the bridge, an additional $500 million was being spent on highway projects in the city.

He said these would benefit not just Pharr, but the Rio Grande Valley, the State of Texas, and the nation.

In addition to the mayor, state Rep. Sergio Muñoz spoke at the event. As did Pharr Bridge Director Luis Bazan.Many of those in the audience were in the import-export business.

Here is a podcast from the event:

Here are Mayor Hernandez’s remarks from the groundbreaking in full:

Buenos Dias, Bienvenido. It is a wonderful day for the city of Pharr, on many fronts.

So, we are going to have a couple of people step up here, including Luis Bazan. But, none of this could have been achieved without, I have to say, our employees. Starting with our city manager, our assistant city manager, our engineer, everybody who pulls together to get this job done.

On the political side we know that politics is the fastest way to get anything done so we are very grateful to Cindy Garza for helping us move forward the projects that are about to be introduced to you right now.

So, in 2015, when the new administration took over, we built upon the success that was present. We needed to be sure that we planned for the future and made sure that the City of Pharr was progressive and ensured that the people using the international bridge, knew that we were the international bridge of choice for customer service and for speed, of course.

So, one of the best things that has happened since that time is that we took off with the DAP program, the Donations Acceptance Program, that was put in place by the federal government as pilot program, had never been done anywhere. We were essentially guinea pigs. It was put into play. It was a little stuck in the system but thank you to the congressmen who helped push it through. Congressman Hinojosa pushed it through. Helped us move it along because they needed that extra push. That was the historical perspective of it.

What did it do? It allowed us to partner with the government so we could expand our bridge. Why did we want to expand our bridge? Because we have a lot of business and we knew that, going forward, we would have more business. We wanted to grow the infrastructure for south Pharr, which means all of the state of Texas would benefit, and the nation.

The DAP program is, by any means, a huge success to this nation, not just to the city of Pharr. But for the nation. So, we are very excited that it happened.

Our commission has been very aggressive in helping you, the brokers, the people that drive, the semi’s and move commerce back and forth on additional fronts.

Some of the projects that we are referring to are going to amount to about $40 million. We also had local partners. This included the state legislators. So, with us is state Rep. Sergio Muñoz, Jr. Of course, (Senator) Chuy Hinojosa was also… and Senator Lucio… helped us push our projects forward under 11-B riders.

All this taken together contributed to quite a bit of money to our area. And we did it, again, with the great leadership under our city manager, our engineer, our bridge board, Luis Bazan, everybody coming together and putting in the entire documentation that was necessary to prove our point, that we were the bridge of choice and we needed the resources to make our nation better and commerce better.

It takes an entire family to do it. This commission has not only brought in $40 million of infrastructure. Remember there is also what is coming to help us move commerce in a safe, reliable way. We also spearheaded the 281 Exchange, that is over a $300 million project that is going to start very soon, actually; within a couple of months it should be breaking ground.

In addition to that we have also moved forward on the IBTC, that is a freeway that starts here at Military Highway and goes east to the expressway, will jump over the expressway on Highway 68 to end up on north 281 underneath the airport, in that geographical area. You add that kind of money… plus the 365 toll that starts again, here at our port of entry and goes west to serve the great cities of McAllen and Mission, because they are our partners in international commerce. They are great partners but we need to make sure they get their commerce moving.

We did this as a commission because we knew that although commerce is extremely important for our survival and for this economy, we need to protect our citizens. We can no longer accept having semis next to our school buses, next to our vehicles. It is too dangerous. But, we can work side by side. And this is why this endeavor was undertaken. So, when you look at what the city commission has been able to do, using our state leaders, our federal leaders, including Senator Cornyn, who has been instrumental for us. Ted Cruz as well. When you look at what they have been able to do and you do the math, they really have brought in under this leadership, over $500 million of infrastructure, to the geographical boundaries of the city of Pharr. That is half a billion dollars to serve this area. Not only will the city of Pharr benefit, but, again, this great county and state and nation will truly benefit from it for generations to come.

So, I just wanted you guys to know that you have a great commission, you have great leaders at the state level that are always looking out for you, the people who are moving commerce back and forth, that are saving our country when we need jobs, when we need to make sure people have food on their table in a safe manner. We think about you guys every day and we prove it. We actually put much effort into it and now you are going to see it.

In the next five years you will see more things rolling out including, what I call the bug lab, the entomology lab, an $8 million investment, we are going to have it here in Pharr, so every product gets to move faster, rather than being stuck. We do not want it stuck, time is money, we need you to move it so we are going to have those bugs checked out quickly for you so you can move your product. That is strategic planning. That is what this commission does with our city employees.

That is why I am so proud of this success of this story because it could not have been done without a great commission, great employees. The mayor is only one, it is really you guys that do it. And I just want you guys to know that. That is what I am most proud of. Of how our city comes together. So, with that, thank you for letting me comment and you guys have a great day.

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