MCALLEN, Texas – McAllen Mayor Javier Villalobos thought the occasion so special he asked that an official photo be taken of the Anzalduas International Bridge Board members.
The board comprises elected officials and staff from the cities of McAllen, Mission, and Granjeno.
The reason the occasion was special, Villalobos told the Rio Grande Guardian International News Service, was because the bridge board had settled on the company that will construct new inbound and outbound commercial facilities at Anzalduas.
That company is Wilson Construction Company of McAllen. The $81.8 million project is slated to be completed within a year.
“This day is historic because we have been working on this project for years. Even before I was a city commissioner,” Mayor Villalobos told the Guardian.
“This has been a long process and we are finally at the tail end and so we have everybody pretty excited about what is coming.”
Asked what the bridge board had agreed to do, Villalobos said: “We are issuing about $81 million in bonds for the expansion of the Anzalduas International Bridge. What a lot of people do not understand is now we are going to have the ability to have full commercial traffic, coming and going. Right now all we have is empties. And we do okay. But imagine once we open it up and have full service, fully loaded, trucks. it is going to be great.”
Villalobos asked that someone in the City of McAllen’s media department come and take an official photo of the bridge board to record the day for posterity.
It was put to Villalobos that owners of the maquiladora plants on the west side of Reynosa will appreciate the opportunity to cross their products at Anzalduas rather than drive around the city’s loop to use the Pharr International Bridge, on the east side of the city.
“There is a lot of interest in crossing via Anzalduas,” Villalobos responded. “As a matter of fact one of the reasons we have became a sister city with Apodaca is to promote commence and trade. So, we keep on working together, not just to construct the bridge but to urge everyone to come through Anzalduas. And we think it is working.”
Villalobos was asked about a loan NADBank is making available to help with the project. He pointed out that the loan is worth $63 million. Additionally, he said, the project received a $22 million grant from Texas Department of Transportation.
“Whatever else we need, we will take care of it. We are very excited,” Villalobos said. “Again, this is going to open up commercial traffic. All we have is empties right now. It opens up a whole new stream of revenues, which, of course, benefits our residents.”
On a related note, the bridge board also agreed to engage the service of local lobby firm, Pathfinder Public Affairs. Asked why the board had done this, Villalobos said: “Pathfinder were very instrumental in assisting us in finding the monies at the state level for Anzalduas. With another legislative session starting next January, we have brought them on for the next year at $5,000 per month.”
Later the same day the McAllen City Commission confirmed that Wilson Construction Company would be constructing new inbound and outbound commercial facilities and related paving improvements at Anzalduas International Bridge.
According to a city news release, the contract is for $81.8 million, with a contract time of 320 days, approximately 11 months. The funding source for the project is a $63 million loan from the North American Development Bank and a $22 million grant from Texas Department of Transportation.
“International trade from Mexico into the United States is of vital importance to the State of Texas and no one understands this better than the City of McAllen,” Villalobos said, in the news release. “That is why we are investing in constructing the commercial inspection and cargo facilities at Anzalduas International Bridge, which will help to grow this trade for the benefit of not only the United States and Mexico, but also Texas and the local economy, as well.”
City Manager Roel Rodriguez praised the McAllen City Commission for its commitment to the Anzalduas expansion project. He also thanked the Rio Grande Valley’s legislative delegation.
“Thanks to all of their efforts, especially that of Sen. Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa and Chairman Terry Canales, McAllen was able to secure $21 million in state funds, in addition to the $63 million loan from the North American Development Bank for this construction,” Rodriguez said, in the news release.
The news release said both Villalobos and Rodriguez also praised U.S. Sen. John Cornyn. It said he “helped push the federal leg work through that is making the construction a reality.”
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