The city of Mission is much closer to begin construction of the much-anticipated Madero International Bridge following a Tuesday, Jan. 30 special meeting for the Mission Economic Development Corporation.
At that meeting, MEDC Chief Executive Officer Alex Meade announced the hiring of Pathfinder Public Affairs, a McAllen-based government affairs consulting firm, to help move the project along.
The Madero International Bridge, which would be built west of Conway and Inspiration roads, is meant to also be a rail bridge and will mainly be used for commercial vehicles. The presidential permit for the project states construction must begin by no later than 2021, or the city risks losing federal funding for the project.
Richard Perez, a liaison for Pathfinder – a company that consulted on the Anzalduas International Bridge – says the next step for the project is getting it onto TxDot’s Border Master Plan list so TxDot can fund the project.
“It’s the only rail project between Laredo and Brownsville,” Perez said of the proposed international bridge, which was initially approved in 1978. “It’s unusual that the city has had the permit for 30 some years and not done anything with it. There’s a degree of urgency to it, we need to move on. As Alex said, there’s 36 months left to get on that list to be prioritized by TxDOT or else we’ll risk being behind on the project.”
Mission City Manager Martin Garza agreed.
“If we do not have our name on that list in the Transportation Department form, then we don’t get any funding from TxDot regarding that project,” Garza said. “Right now, we’re not in there, and there’s already people on that list. So, we got to somehow get our way in and then, hopefully, gradually move up.”
Meade pointed out that getting on that list will be a “very long, very lengthy process” that will most likely spill over into the next legislative session.
In the meantime, the city is tackling items on their end. The purchase of 100 acres near Madero for the General Services Administration is planned in the coming months. Garza said that at the next Anzalduas International Bridge Board meeting, it will be discussed as to what entity – the board or city – will make the required acquisition.
Last November the Mission Redevelopment Authority approved a $46 million project to widen about 6.8 miles of roads that will eventually connect with the planned bridge. Inspiration Road from Expressway 83 south to Military Road would be widened to five lanes. The project also includes construction of a “loop road” connecting Los Ebanos Road with Conway Avenue.
The city of Mission’s portion of the project is about $8 million or 18-percent of the total cost. Garza said the city has already spent $1.3 million of its $8 million share of the project on preliminary feasibility studies they hope to be completed by this coming June. He said the Hidalgo County MPO has dedicated $19.1 million to the project, and with the city’s $8 million, the project still is lacking approximately $19 million in funding.
The Anzalduas International Bridge Board contracted S & B Engineers and Constructors, Ltd. to conduct the feasibility study, with city officials confident it will show the need for a second bridge in the area, Garza said.
“We feel very strong that if we have a positive study, that if we get on the Border Master Plan, and if we have acquired the 100 acres we need for the GSA, and that we have an environmental study that is positive – if we have all those components – we feel very strong that the Department of State will provide an extension to the project.”