MCALLEN, Texas – McAllen City Manager Roy Rodriguez says Anzalduas International Bridge will be “game changer” for the Rio Grande Valley and the state of Texas – once it can take trucks carrying cargo.
At the moment, Anzalduas can take empty trucks going southbound into Mexico. That should change soon, Rodriguez said, during a webinar hosted by the Rio Grande Valley Partnership. The webinar showcased McAllen as a place worthy of commercial investment.
“Our bridges are our way of life for South Texas. We are very proud to own two international bridges. We have a team of cities that have partnered for many, many years, on Hidalgo Bridge and Anzalduas Bridge,” Rodriguez said.
“Anzalduas is really the future for us. It is a big part of the future of this region.”
Rodriguez pointed out that Anzalduas Bridge has been open for about ten years.
“We have only been able to have vehicular traffic go through it. And, in the last few years we have had empty trucks going southbound into Mexico. We are currently designing the cargo facilities,” Rodriguez said, proudly.
“I will use something the mayor uses all the time: is just going to be a game changer.”
Many of the listeners on the webinar were potential investors and real estate developers. Rodriguez explained why Anzalduas is going to make a big difference.
“When we open up Anzalduas for cargo it is going to really, really, develop our region and our state. In McAllen, we realize that the bridges are much more than another revenue (stream). Anzalduas Bridge impacts the State of Texas and the United States,” Rodriguez said.
By way of example, Rodriguez highlighted the parts that go into making automobiles. He said many of these parts cross the U.S.-Mexico border.
“A lot of folks outside of our region do not realize that parts coming from Mexico, northbound, are going as far as Michigan, in order to put cars together, with parts made back here, across the border. So, Anzalduas is definitely going to be a game changer.”
Rodriguez said a plan to develop Anzalduas so it can take fully loaded trucks is 90 percent complete. He said the plan will incorporate the Donations Acceptance Program, which allows municipalities to work with the federal government to fund infrastructure projects at international ports of entry.
“It will be submitted through the DAP program, our partners with CBP, GSA and all the others that will use the facilities have been part of that design from the beginning. We did not want to guess what they needed. They have been around the table with us, designing this port of entry and we are very excited that we will be turning dirt on that in 2021.”
CBP stands for Customs and Border Protection. GSA stands for General Services Administration.
In his presentation, Rodriguez also spoke about the value of Hidalgo International Bridge, which takes passenger vehicles and pedestrians but not 18-wheelers.
“Some of you may know, the amount of people that cross that bridge, pedestrians that walk across that bridge, is really, really, tremendous. Hidalgo Bridge and probably Progreso see more people going across the bridge than any other in South Texas,” Rodriguez said.
“And so we realized we need to accommodate the amount of pedestrians coming through here. Not only the number of lanes for CBP to be able to handle but really from the comfort of the people coming across.”
The City of McAllen has invested in overhead shading and industrial ceiling mounted fans to make long waits for pedestrians crossing Hidalgo more bearable in the summer months.
“It was not that long ago that, back in the middle of the summer, that folks lined up across the bridge in the heat and that is just not the way we want to treat customers. So, we put a lot of money, effort and energy into expanding that Hidalgo crossing port of entry for our pedestrians,” Rodriguez said.
McAllen Mayor Jim Darling was also on the webinar. In his remarks, Darling spoke about the importance of the McAllen Foreign Trade Zone.
“One of the things we are proud of is our trade zone. We have ten million square feet of logistics in the McAllen Foreign Trade Zone area. Class A industrial parks, which include some manufacturing but primarily logistics,” Darling said.
“We are on the cusp of expanding those for what we think is going to be the new manufacturing facilities under USMCA. Very unique. A lot of people in McAllen don’t know it (the foreign trade zone) is in the south of our city. One of the largest logistical areas in the state of Texas.”
Darling also spoke about his city’s efforts to lure investment from Asia.
“We go to China, Korea and Japan. We are very unique in that. We go with the State of Tamaulipas and the City of Reynosa. That impresses the people in those countries, that we have international economic development,” Darling said.
“In fact, the United Nations has recognized that. That uniqueness of the country and the city. Both Mexico, federal people, state people and city people with an American city and international economic development. The relationship with Mexico is also shown by some of these facilities. To make it easy for commerce to come back and forth across the river.”
Rodriguez said McAllen’s international bridges have always been important to Mayor Darling. “He realizes the impact to our city and the region,” Rodriguez said.
Rodriguez said he wanted to give those watching the webinar presentation a statistic that he felt was “really mind blowing.” He contrasted the number of visitors to San Antonio via air with the number of visitors to McAllen via the city’s two international bridges.
“San Antonio, Texas, is the second largest city in Texas. It surpassed Dallas recently. We wanted to give you a statistic that you might not think about a lot. San Antonio has got a pretty good sized airport. It is a very, very, large city. And obviously it is a tourist zone Mecca for Texas. They have 10.3 million enplanements out of the San Antonio airport,” Rodriguez said.
“We have 21.7 million that go across our bridges. Just our two bridges. That is really staggering. To think about how much we have to accommodate for people going back and forth into the two countries.”
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