State Sen. Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa, D-McAllen

A bill to provide city- and county-owned toll bridges at ports of entry another tool for funding is awaiting the signature of Gov. Greg Abbott before becoming law.

The measure was penned by state Sen. Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa.

Hinojosa’s Senate Bill 1334, which was sponsored in the House by state Rep. Terry Canales, came to fruition following a meeting between Hinojosa and Pharr Mayor Ambrosio Hernandez, according to a news release. The mayor was seeking assistance in addressing concerns from the Texas Attorney General’s Office in regards to their ability to permit the issuance of bonds for assets that would be donated to the federal government.

Cities and counties are unable to issue bonds to invest in facilities, technology, or other infrastructure to donate to the federal government for port improvements.

“I appreciate Mayor Ambrosio Hernandez for his leadership and for bringing this issue to my attention,” Hinojosa said in the news release. “We will recover our investments and more, by growing our economy, creating new jobs, and making the movement of people and goods at our bridges more efficient. This is a common sense bill that will help cities and counties that own bridges leverage their local dollars to expedite bridge projects which will strengthen our economy and the safety of our ports of entry.”

According to the release, trade between Texas and Mexico has grown by 267% from 1994 to 2019, increasing from $58 billion to $213 billion.

“The city of Pharr prides itself on remaining proactive and innovative when it comes to infrastructure development at the Pharr International Bridge,” Hernandez said in the news release. “The bridge now crosses 65% of the nation’s produce imported from Mexico and over $36 billion in annual trade, and I am happy to see that our state leaders recognize that it is vital to continue prioritizing infrastructure needs for our port of entry.”

Senate Bill 1334 will take effect immediately if approved by Abbott.