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PHARR, TEXAS – Pharr International Bridge officials are not letting the coronavirus crisis stop their infrastructure improvement projects.

In a Zoom conversation with the Rio Grande Guardian, Pharr Bridge Director Luis Bazan said five major infrastructure projects are in the works, valued at between $35 million to $40 million.

One of the projects is the additional of four bridge lanes, courtesy of a new span across the Rio Grande.

“We need to continue to invest in the infrastructure. Our tagline is, ‘Pharr International Bridge, Investing Big for Faster Trade’,” Bazan said.

“We have made a lot of progress in Mexico with studies and engineering drafts. We just got started on the U.S. side. There are a few hurdles to get through but we are going to get there.”

In the conversation, Bazan noted how Pharr pioneered the Donations Acceptance Program, which allows bridge owners and the private sector to make investments in infrastructure to compliment funding from Customs and Border Protection.

“The biggest project we have on our books is the bridge expansion. We are adding another four lanes. We have made a lot of headway,” Bazan said.

“We have made a lot of progress in Mexico with studies and engineering drafts. We just got started on the U.S. side. There are a few hurdles to get through but we are going to get there.”

Bazan said that while the Pharr Bridge Board has had to adapt to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on international trade, the timeframe for the bridge expansion has not changed.

“We are moving forward. Hopefully we can at least break ground in two years,” he said.

One aspect of the work undertaken by Pharr International Bridge staff that has changed is the popular BridgeConnect series. Previously these meetings took place monthly. Now, they are “virtually” taking place every week. 

Bazan said the feedback his team is getting on the BridgeConnect series from customs brokers and others involved in international trade has been positive.

Bazan said that with the economies of the United States and Mexico shut down for a period to counter COVID-19, it was inevitable that bridge crossings would suffer. He said bridge crossings in April 2020 were about 15 percent down on the same month in 2019.


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