Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Mobility authority gives Garza incentive to build border trade corridor

Mobility authority gives Garza incentive to build border trade corridor
November 15, 2009 3:17 PM
Jared Janes
The Monitor

A number of potential projects await new Regional Mobility Authority executive director Godfrey Garza as he starts work this week on his consulting contract.

He’ll need to finish environmental clearance for the full Hidalgo County loop; the mobility authority wants to discuss ways to bring the long-awaited La Joya bypass to fruition and Garza himself is interested in developing a rail strategy for the region. But first thing’s first.

Garza’s top priority is funding an executable finance plan for the Hidalgo County border trade corridor, a spin off from the loop that the mobility authority put together in August when it determined it wouldn’t be able to fund the full project.

If Garza is able to finance at least 90 percent of the 29-mile roadway that connects three international bridges to Expressway 83, he’ll earn $1.1 million over the next three years as the executive director for the mobility authority, an independent government agency that was created in 2005 to manage long-term transportation projects for the county.

Garza, who will continue his work as the manager for the Hidalgo County Drainage District No. 1, was brought on board by the mobility authority because of his record in bringing projects like the county’s levee-wall to life, said mobility authority chair Dennis Burleson. With an investment of two years and more than $12 million on the original loop, the mobility authority’s top priority is the trade corridor, which is the closest to coming together.

“The trade corridor gives South Texas some credibility for the future,” Burleson said. “If the trade corridor is successful, then we can start looking for our next project.”

The mobility authority’s board must decide by mid-February if it wants to pursue an agreement with Hidalgo County Roadbuilders to build the border trade corridor.

Roadbuilders, an association of local engineers and Houston-based road developer Gerry Pate that was hired in 2007 to develop plans for the original loop, submitted a $396 million plan for the trade corridor last month, setting off a 120-day clock for the mobility authority to decide if it wants to agree to the maximum price.

The mobility authority will...

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