PHARR, Texas – Pharr International Bridge has shattered its best ever year for crossing goods and there is a still a month to go.

From January to November, 2021, the value of goods crossing the Pharr Bridge was $38 billion. The amount for December 2021 is not yet in. The previous best year was 2019, when $36 billion worth of goods crossed the bridge. 

Luis Bazán, executive director of the bridge, announced the latest numbers at a monthly meeting of the Pharr Bridge Board. At the conclusion of the meeting he gave an interview to the Rio Grande Guardian International News Service. He said the value of goods crossing the bridge in 2021 would likely top $40 billion once the numbers for December are known.

“Speaking of trendsetting, speaking of moving ahead and getting ahead, the numbers don’t lie,” Bazán told the Guardian. “We are on schedule to hit $40 billion in trade by the end of calendar year 2021. We are very excited about that.”

Once a year, the Pharr Bridge Board commissions a study through WorldCity, a company out of Miami which collects data from the U.S. Census Bureau and from customs brokers. 

“That is how we determine how we compare the Pharr International Bridge to other land ports of entry, to sea ports, to airports,” Bazán said.

“We continue to be the seventh fastest growing land port of entry or port of entry in the United States trading with Mexico. Right now we are at No. 30 in rankings across the board.”

Bazán then revealed the hot news.

“One of the things I mentioned was we were crossing $36 billion in trade. That means in both imports and exports we were crossing $36 billion of value, of products, of commodities. Our commodities consist of oil and gas, product, technology, medical and automotive,” Bazán said.

“We went from $36 billion in trade back in 2019 and then in 2020 we dipped to $33 billion in trade. Why? Because of the pandemic. But it is wasn’t just the Pharr International Bridge. Across the board, any land port of entry, any entity, providing the kind of service that we offer, dipped by about nine percent.”

Bazán said the automotive sector was hit hardest.

“It took a huge hit during the pandemic. So, across the board, a nine to ten percent loss. Right now, the latest trade numbers we have are through January through November 2021, almost a year compete and we are already at $38 billion,” Bazán said, proudly.

“Every year we were growing by about a billion dollars a year in trade. Now we have regained, we have gained traction at $38 billion.”

Bazán said the Pharr Bridge Board was confident it would reach $40 billion.

“We are doing our job to promote this bridge to bring more customers to this bridge. At the end of the day, that is the bottom line.”

In his executive director’s report to the board, Bazán spoke about forward momentum, continuing on the right path, and making sound investments for the trade community.

Second Span

In his interview with the Rio Grande Guardian International News Service, Bazán was asked about the second span project. The Pharr International Bridge is due to double capacity with the building of a second span.

“Things are coming along. With any project there are going to be hurdles, there are going to be obstacles along the way,” Bazán said.

“The environmental assessment, the environmental clearance, we are going through that process. It is not as easy as one would think. There are a lot of different agencies you have to go through on the federal side. The fact that we are a land border crossing, the fact that the bridge is elevated above ground for almost three miles, there are a lot of things to consider there. But the project is moving forward.”

Bazán started his career in economic development at around the turn of the century. He said building the second span is the biggest project he has taken on.

“This is the first time I personally have gone through such a large project in my career. You learn as you go,” he said. 

“The whole thing with us is forward momentum. We have never stopped. In fact, we broke records in obtaining the amendment to the presidential permit (for the second span) back in 2020. We got it in less than three months. That is a testament to the way that Pharr works. The fact that our leadership gets the gears in motion. We follow through. We get the job done.”

Editor’s Note: The main image accompanying the above news story shows Luis Bazán speaking at a Rio Grande Valley MPO event in Pharr in March 2020.

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