FEATURED: Rep. R.D. “Bobby” Guerra, D-McAllen, participates in the Wednesday, October 26, 2022 groundbreaking of the $83 million expansion of the Anzalduas International Bridge Port of Entry, which connects both western outskirts of Mission, Texas and Reynosa, Mexico.
Photograph Courtesy REP. R.D. “BOBBY” GUERRA FACEBOOK
Rep. Canales, Rep. Guerra, and Rep. Muñoz join McAllen Mayor Javier Villalobos in predicting major economic impact of $83 million investment to transform Anzalduas International Bridge into a fully-commercial link between Texas and Mexico
Rep. Terry Canales, D-Edinburg, Rep. R.D. “Bobby” Guerra, D-McAllen, and Rep. Sergio Muñoz, Jr., D-Mission, on Wednesday, October 26, 2022, joined McAllen, Hidalgo, and Mission city leaders for the groundbreaking of the $83 million improvement project for the Anzalduas International Bridge, which connects both western outskirts of Mission and Reynosa.
The Anzalduas International Bridge expansion plan will improve safety, generate economic benefits, reduce congestion, enhance efficiency, eliminate freight bottlenecks, and improve critical freight movement.
The transformation will change the bridge from a pedestrian and passenger vehicle-only bridge by constructing commercial inspection facilities and all of the necessary infrastructure at the Anzalduas Land Port of Entry, including inspection booths, inspection docks, equipment, roadway, parking and sidewalks, make improvements to the southbound inspection facilities and construct northbound facilities, according to McAllen city officials.
The contractor for the Anzalduas International Bridge upgrade is D. Wilson Construction Company of McAllen and is expected to take approximately 320 days, or 11 months to complete. It will soon support fully commercial cargo traffic at the land port. Currently, the bridge only receives empty cargo trucks traveling southbound.
A recent study completed by the Texas Department of Transportation showed that the Pharr-Reynosa Bridge, the only commercial bridge in the Port of Hidalgo region (Pharr, Hidalgo and Anzalduas bridges), requires the average of 9,300 commercial trucks per week to experience wait times of nearly 100 minutes during peak traffic times, forcing trucks to endure long hours waiting in lines, which negatively impacts economic potential.
“This is a very important project not only for McAllen and the Rio Grande Valley, but also our entire nation,” said McAllen Mayor Javier Villalobos. “This project will provide immediate and direct enhancement to our supply chain, providing a much-needed corridor for goods to come into the country through McAllen.”
The Anzalduas International Bridge is governed by a seven-member board of trustees which includes the respective mayor of McAllen, Hidalgo, and Mission, along with the mayor of Granjeño, who is a non-voting member.
MAYOR VILLALOBOS: U.S. SECRETARY OF TRANSPORTATION BUTTIGIEG, U.S. SENATOR JOHN CORNYN ALSO PLAYED KEY ROLES
The funding for the project comes from a $25 million INFRA (Infrastructure for Rebuilding America) grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation, a $22 million grant from the Texas Department of Transportation, and a $63 million loan from the North American Development Bank to the City of McAllen.
“I want to thank U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg for his approval in awarding the INFRA grant we received to support this project and for recognizing what a critical role this port of entry plays in the economy,” said Villalobos.
Appointed by President Biden and sworn in on February 3, 2021, Buttigieg is an American political leader and former military officer currently serving as U.S. Secretary of Transportation.
Buttigieg served for seven years as an officer in the US. Navy Reserve, taking a leave of absence as mayor of South Bend, Indiana for a deployment to Afghanistan in 2014.
He is the first openly gay person to serve in a president’s Cabinet.
The Cabinet is an advisory body made up of the heads of the 15 executive departments. Appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate, the members of the Cabinet are often the President’s closest confidants.
The North American Development Bank, also known as NADBank, is a binational financial institution established by the Governments of the United States and Mexico to provide financing to support the development and implementation of infrastructure projects, as well as to provide technical and other assistance for projects and actions that preserve, protect or enhance the environment in order to advance the well-being of the people of the United States and Mexico.
“I would also like to thank Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) and the Rio Grande Valley federal and state delegation for their support on this expansion project to help Anzalduas International Bridge become a full commercial bridge. Increased trade with our nation’s greatest trading partner (Mexico) will necessarily boost the region’s, the state’s and even the nation’s economy,” the McAllen mayor continued.
From the nation’s Capitol in Washington, D.C., where the U.S. Congress meets, Cornyn provided the following comments:
“Access to safe and efficient infrastructure is critical as more goods come through Texas’ Ports of Entry each day,” said Cornyn. “I applaud the City of McAllen and the Anzalduas Bridge Board on this announcement and look forward to seeing the positive impact this investment will have for the Rio Grande Valley and our economy.”
REP. CANALES: MEXICO IS TEXAS’ LARGEST TRADING PARTNER AND IMPORT SOURCE
According to the U. Bureau of Labor Statistics and the U.S. Census Bureau:
• Mexico was Texas’ number one trading partner in 2021 with $122.7 billion in exports. Texas top exports to Mexico were oil and gas; chemicals; nuclear reactors; iron and steel, plastics and copper; and
• Mexico was Texas’ number one import source country in 2021. Texas’ $108.4 billion in Mexican imports included nuclear reactors; plastics; oil and gas; furniture; and fruits and nuts.
Canales serves as Chair, House Committee on Public Transportation, which heavily influences in the House of Representatives dozens of major proposals dealing with state highways, aviation, seaports, and bridges in Texas.
“It has been a privilege to play a role in helping secure nearly $22 million in state funding to bring this new cargo entry point to the Rio Grande Valley. Another commercial bridge means more business and industry interested in setting up shop near our borders,” said Canales.
“This means more economic security, job security, and national security in our hometowns. I have to congratulate Mayor Javier Villalobos and the City of McAllen, for the many years of planning that have led to this moment,” Canales added. “Also, I want to thank Sen. Juan ‘Chuy’ Hinojosa (D-McAllen) for his strength in leadership in helping bring this project to fruition.”
REP. GUERRA: WORKING WITH DEMOCRATS AND REPUBLICANS VITAL TO RIO GRANDE VALLEY LEGISLATIVE SUCCESSES
Guerra, who serves as Vice Chair, House Committee on Public Health, said the project symbolizes the unity of the Rio Grande Valley state legislative delegation.
“When you see us on the Internet (https://capitol.texas.gov), when the (regular) session is going on, you will see us huddled together,” he said. “We do this because we want to make sure our colleagues understand the direction we should all be going if we work hand-and-hand together.”
The session is the period during which the Texas Legislature meets. The regular session gathers every odd-numbered year and may last no more than 140 days. A called session, commonly referred to as a special session, is so designated because it must be called by the governor. A called or special session may last no more than 30 days.
The Valley legislative delegation works with both political parties “because it is incumbent upon us (necessary) to bring down as many representatives and state leaders as we can to this area to see how beautiful this area is,” Guerra said. “They are absolutely amazed, and they will ask me, ‘What can we do to help the state of Texas, but also the nation, to continue to grow? We know that your area is very, very important to that growth.’”
Rep. Sergio Muñoz, Jr., D-Mission, who serves on the House Committee on Higher Education and the House Committee on Pension, Investments & Financial Services, said the combination of federal and state legislative and financial resources are needed to continue moving forward the Rio Grande Valley.
“I know this (upcoming regular) session, we are looking at about a $27 billion surplus. We know a lot of that money can be used to come back to Texas taxpayers and the people who contribute a significant portion of that right here in the Rio Grande Valley,” Muñoz said.
The 88th Texas Legislature will meet at the Texas Capitol in Austin for 140 days beginning on Tuesday, January 10, 2023.
REP. MUÑOZ: GRANJEÑO, HIDALGO AND MISSION ALSO KEY TO IMPROVEMENT PROJECT
“Now, the important task is that we have is making sure we can continue to align (match) the interests of international trade and commerce with education and economic development, not only for the this area, but for all of the Rio Grande Valley,” Muñoz urged.
In addition to praising the work of the City of McAllen, of which a portion is in his House District 36, Muñoz also thanked the cities of Granjeño, Hidalgo and Mission and the important roles they played making sure al these process goes forward, and how much they support the efforts of the Anzalduas International Bridge.”
Hinojosa, who had a schedule conflict and as a result was unable to attend the groundbreaking ceremony, provide his viewpoints through a news release.
“Our ports of entry are key to our local, state, and national economies and this project will help the Anzalduas bridge grow, increase border trade with Mexico, and will create jobs,” he said. “Last session (Spring of 2021), working with our state legislative delegation, we secured $22 million from the Texas Transportation Commission to build up the infrastructure at the Anzalduas bridge.”
Ports of entry within the state of Texas accounted for nearly $740 billion in international trade in 2018. Texas has 29 official ports of entry that serve as critical gateways to global trade. A variety of these ports and their economic impacts are featured below. Each port, whether an airport, land port or seaport, serves many domestic and international economic activities across multiple industries. Each Texas port plays a distinctive role in the state’s transportation network and contributes to the state and local economies.
The City of McAllen, with the leadership of former Mayor Jim Darling, Villalobos, Roy Rodríguez, McAllen City Manager, Juan Olaguibel, Superintendent, Anzalduas International Bridge, Pete Álvarez, District Engineer, Texas Department of Transportation, working with federal, state, and local partners continue to expand our economy, create new jobs, and contribute to keep Texas as the largest economy in the nation and ninth in the world, Hinojosa added.
775-ACRE MCALLEN FOREIGN TRADE ZONE TO BENEFIT AS WELL
McAllen City Manager Roel “Roy” Rodríguez, P.E., pointed out the the 775-acre McAllen Foreign Trade Zone, with its 150 maquiladoras, is located directly across from the Anzalduas land port in Reynosa.
“This project’s significance goes much beyond our region. It is a project that will impact the entire State of Texas and the United States,” said Rodríguez. “I also want to thank Mayor Villalobos and the McAllen city commissioners for sticking with it. It takes a lot courage to make these types of investments for projects that are so visionary. I am so proud to be on this team.”
These manufacturing facilities at the McAllen Foreign Trade Zone produce cell phone parts, home appliances, medical equipment and many electronics, all critical components to manufacturing products in the United States.
The McAllen Foreign Trade Zone #12, located at 6401 South 33rd Street, was created in 1973, making it the first inland non-seaport Foreign Trade Zone in the United States. This began a chain of free enterprise that is unparalleled anywhere else in the world.
More than 410 companies ranging from manufacturing, industrial, supplier, warehouse distribution, logistics, etc. have located in McAllen. The McAllen Foreign Trade Zone offers full service logistics solutions to more than 100 clients representing more than 42 countries worldwide.
U.S. foreign-trade zones (FTZs or Zones) are the domestic equivalents of what are internationally known as ‘free-trade zones.’ They are usually located in areas with geographic trade advantages, such as major seaports, international airports, and national frontiers.
Within FTZs, company goods can be unloaded, manufactured, reassembled, tested, sampled, processed, repackaged, and re-exported without the intervention of U.S. customs authorities. Only when goods are moved outside a Zone do they become subject to U.S. customs duties. Zone status may also make sites eligible for state and local tax benefits.
A maquiladora is a Spanish term for a factory located near the United States-Mexico border that operates under a favorable duty- or tariff-free basis.
Xóchitl Mora contributed to this article. For more on this and other Texas legislative news stories that affect the Rio Grande Valley metropolitan region, please log on to Titans of the Texas Legislature (TitansoftheTexasLegislature.com).