Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Anzalduas Bridge ushers in new era of trading opportunities, say Valley leaders

Anzalduas Bridge ushers in new era of trading opportunities, say Valley leaders

Picture: Carlos I. Garza, chairman of the Anzalduas International Bridge Board.

MISSION, Dec. 15 – The opening of the Anzalduas International Bridge on Tuesday will boost trade between Texas and Mexico and improve the border economy, say local political leaders.

“This bridge increases our capacity for cross border trade and traveling to and from Mexico,” said Carlos I. Garza, chairman of the Anzalduas International Bridge Board. “An increase in cross border activity will improve the economies on both sides of the border.”

Anzalduas International Bridge is situated three miles west of the Hidalgo/Reynosa International Bridge, off of Military Highway and Anzalduas Highway (FM 396) in Mission. It connects Mission, Texas, with the west side of Reynosa, Tamaulipas.

The bridge will operate seven days a week from 6 am to 10 pm. Traffic began flowing on the bridge at 6 a.m. on Tuesday. Unless and until a federal permit is obtained, Anzalduas will not be able to handle commercial traffic. It is restricted at this stage to handling non-commercial vehicular traffic. City officials in Pharr have protested Anzalduas obtaining a permit for commercial traffic because their international bridge is yet to hit capacity for such traffic.

The international port of entry includes southbound tolling and administrative facilities. The federal government’s Customs and Border Protection will operate inspection facilities on the northbound lanes. The General Services Administration built the bridge’s federal facilities.

Garza pointed out that Mexico is Texas’ biggest trading partner. He said he expects the Anzalduas route to significantly reduce travel time to the Mexican city of Monterrey, a major manufacturing center and important trade partner for Texas.

The new crossing will cut down commute time for thousands of U.S. workers employed at maquiladoras, manufacturing plants immediately across the border in Mexico, Garza said, pointing out that the span also connects McAllen’s Foreign Trade Zone and the massive Sharyland Plantation development directly to Reynosa’s fast-growing west side and its modern industrial parks.

McAllen Mayor Richard Cortez said the new crossing is the result of intense collaboration on the international, federal, state and local levels and an investment worth more than $100 million. It is a collaborative project between the cities of McAllen, Mission, Hidalgo and Granjeno and a decade in the making.

“The opening of the Anzalduas International Bridge will get us closer to being the destination of choice for international business development and it will make it easier for Mexican tourists to cross more efficiently,” Cortez said. “It is a complement to the many assets we are developing to make our region the choice to many who are seeking quality of life.”

Bringing Anzalduas International Bridge from concept to reality has taken more than a decade. Mission Mayor Norbeto “Beto” Salinas said he was excited to finally be celebrating the bridge’s opening.

“We have been working really hard on this project for the last 12 years along with McAllen, Hidalgo and Granjeno,” Salinas said. “This is going to be very good for our communities, including Mexico; it will stimulate business and tourism for both countries. We built this bridge that will strengthen our ties with our neighbors to the South as well as a stronger economic future for our area.”

Hidalgo Mayor John David Franz also expressed excitement about the completion and opening of the bridge.

“The opening of the Anzalduas International Bridge brings us closer to being the best option for international business development and it facilitates travel for Mexican tourists, allowing faster crossings,” Franz said.

The official bridge inauguration is scheduled for January 2010.

Here is an Anzalduas International Bridge Project Fact Sheet produced by the Anzalduas International Bridge Board:

• Bridge is located in Mission, Texas south of Military Highway and Bryan Road. Crossing is 3 miles west of the Hidalgo-Reynosa International Bridge, off of Military Highway and Anzalduas Highway (FM 396).

• Anzalduas is the closest international crossing to Mexico City and Monterrey. Route will reduce travel time to Monterrey by 30-45 minutes.

• Anzalduas International Bridge has four entrance lanes, including a SENTRI Lane in the United States. Bridge span is 3.2 miles (5.1 KM) from port to port and features 4 lanes, two safety bump-out spaces, and a pedestrian walkway. Lanes elevated to preserve nearby U.S. Fish and Wildlife Refuge.

• Anzalduas is a joint public project between the cities of McAllen, Mission, Hidalgo and Granjeno, TX DOT, the federal government (GSA) and the Republic of Mexico worth over $100 million dollars.

• In Texas, the Anzalduas International Bridge connects to the McAllen Foreign Trade Zone, where more than 410 companies are based; and the Sharyland Plantation, a 6,000 acre residential, industrial and retail development.

• Dozens of multi-national corporations are located in state of the art industrial areas near Anzalduas’ entry in west Reynosa, MX. The companies include: Nokia, Matsushita, Black and Decker, Fujitsu, Seimens, Corning, TRW and Symbol Technologies

• Anzalduas International Bridge hours of operation: 6 am to 10 pm, daily

• Official bridge inauguration is planned for January of 2010

Time Line

1992-1998 Preliminary design and site location studies by Halff and Associates

1994 Wilbur Smith Associates complete traffic study

1994-1998 Review of preliminary application for U.S. Permit by U.S. federal agencies

1995 Four party agreement with federal agencies for land use at site

July 1999 U.S. Presidential Permit issued by President Clinton

Feb 2001 Initial exchange of diplomatic notes with Mexico

Fall 2003 Approval by federal agencies of construction plans

Fall 2007 June 2007, bridge groundbreaking ceremony

Fall of 2009 Anzalduas International Bridge Completed

Anzalduas Bridge Board Summary of Costs from 2007 to 2009

Bridge Contract to Williams Bros - $28,713, 014

Toll Plaza Building & Landscaping - $3,078,014

Roadways, Drainage & Site Improvements - $3,961,122

Water, Sanitary Sewer Lines - $2,296,078

Furniture, Fixtures & Equipment - $909,011

Electrical Utilities & Lighting - $1,543,206

All other owner’s expense - $2,796,171

Grand Total - $43,296,616

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