Proposed border master plan calls for $11.7B investment for Valley transportation needs

A newly formed group of infrastructure stakeholders is calling for a $32.7 billion investment into the U.S.-Mexico border, and about a third of it focuses on the Rio Grande Valley’s transportation needs.

The Invest Texas Council, which was formed earlier this year to champion public-private partnerships across economic sectors, released the Border Transportation Master Plan on Monday.

The long-range plan calls for 557 projects across the U.S. to help move people and goods across the southern border more efficiently. Not doing so, could cost the state and the U.S. billions of dollars, the council warned.

“In 2019, border delays resulted in $68.3 million in economic productivity losses, reducing U.S. GDP by $1.1 billion,” the council said in an infographic Monday. “If nothing is done between now and 2050, the negative impact of the Texas-Mexico border delays on GDP could grow by $4.4 billion, reducing U.S. GDP by $75 billion.”

Texas border regions have grown significantly, with an estimated 97% employment growth from 1990 to 2019. That’s about 1.4 million new jobs, the council stated.

Of the 557 projects the council proposes, 211 are in the Rio Grande Valley.

“In order to sustain the economic growth of the RGV, transportation challenges at the border must be addressed,” the council said.

The projected cost of all projects in the U.S. is $32.7 billion. The ones in the Valley would cost about $11.7 billion. Seventy-seven of those would have a high impact, and would come at a cost of about $3.3 billion.

In Laredo, the council recommended 112 projects at a cost of about $10.8 billion.

Funding for these projects could come from public-private partnerships, known as P3s.

“The needs of the border transportation system outpace the level of sustainable and consistent funding that is made available by the state,” the council said. “Utilizing public-private partnerships for priority projects identified by TxDoT in Texas’ metro area — like Austin, Dallas and Houston — would free up public funds for BTMP projects that would benefit the people and economy in South Texas, indeed all Texans.”