MISSION — As plans to expand the Anzalduas International Bridge into a full-service cargo port are on the verge of becoming a reality, Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar toured the existing facilities on Wednesday, emphasizing the significance of border trade.

Hegar was joined by local officials in a news conference to highlight an upcoming bridge expansion project by the city of McAllen that would finally allow cargo traffic.

“One of the things that I principally talk about over and over and over again (is) that Texas, as a state, is the ninth largest economy in the entire world,” Hegar said, “and a big portion of making Texas the ninth largest economy in the world is the result of two real industries — one, manufacturing which is one of our largest industry sectors in the state of Texas, and then also, international trade and international trade.”

“(International trade), obviously, is extremely important to all of our ports of entry, here at this port of entry and especially the project as it kicks off next year,” Hegar continued, “and goes in building out another phase of making sure that Texas and Mexico is greater connected than ever before and that jobs and the opportunity that is brought, not only to both sides of the river but also, as a result, throughout the state of Texas and to the nation.”

A vehicle drives into Mexico as Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar answers questions during a press conference Wednesday at the Anzalduas International Bridge. (Joel Martinez | [email protected]

The Anzalduas bridge is owned and operated by the city of McAllen in partnership with the cities of Hidalgo and Mission.

It opened in 2010 exclusively for vehicular traffic but McAllen City Manager Roel “Roy” Rodriguez said they’ve been working on the cargo port project nearly from nearly the very beginning.

“The cargo port, we’ve been working on for probably eight years,” Rodriguez said, stressing that it’s been a lot of work. “Not only are you dealing with a municipality and the county and the state of Texas and the United States but then you’re dealing with a foreign country of Mexico so it’s been a labor of love here.”

Rodriguez added that they hope to have everything ready to bid the project in early 2022.

In 2016, the bridge opened for southbound empty truck traffic but following the new project, the bridge will be available for north and southbound cargo trucks.

Just of east of where the current bridge stands, there will be additional multiple lanes for trucks and there will also be a new cargo bays where trucks will be inspected, if need be, according to Rodriguez.

Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar and McAllen Mayor Javier Villalobos answer questions during a press conference Wednesday at the Anzalduas International Bridge. (Joel Martinez | [email protected])

The $50 million project will be funded with $22 million from state through the Texas Department of Transportation. The city of McAllen will borrow the remaining funds which they will pay off with revenue from the bridge.

“It will not come from the taxpayers,” Rodriguez noted.

“There are five international bridges in Hidalgo County, only one allows cargo through it — that’s Pharr,” Rodriguez said. “So the demand is there. There’s a lot of pent up demand on both sides of the border and so we know that as soon as we open this bridge, more companies are going to want to come here, because the capacity has now doubled.”

“So it isn’t about taking away from our partners, our friends,” Rodriguez continued. “It’s to ensure that the capacity on both sides of the river is increased and therefore, attracts companies.”

“This bridge is going to become a magnet for companies to want to come on both sides of the bridge,” he said.

The bridge’s looming trade capability comes as the movement of supply has been limited in recent months, causing chain-supply issues worldwide.

“I think the biggest issue in question is, are we going to be able to resolve some of these supply chain issues?” Hegar said. “People have significant pent up demand as we’ve seen, at least, in the state of Texas.”

“This is a project that has been worked on for a very long time and it’s coming very timely,” Hegar added. “As people see, they’re not able to get the products that they want — the businesses are building them, they’re moving back and forth to the end product — and so this project here is going to help solve some of those supply chain problems.”

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