Pharr: Federal Permit to Double Lanes at International Bridge
Feature Illustration: Graphic rendering of activity at Pharr International Bridge. Courtesy: Pharr International Bridge.
by Adolfo Pesquera
Pharr (Hidalgo County) — Mayor Ambrosio Hernandez announced Jan. 4 that a Presidential Permit has been issued allowing an expansion at the Pharr International Bridge from four to eight lanes.
No estimated cost was reported by Hernandez, nor was cost mentioned in the White House document, which was signed Dec. 31.
Once constructed, the new lanes will enable a complete separation of tractor-trailer traffic from car traffic. In addition, specific lanes can be dedicated for empty trailers, as well as full and certified cargo.
The Pharr International Bridge will also have an official gate-to-gate Free and Secure Trade (FAST) lane, or even a set of FAST lanes.
Such an expansion normally would have taken years to get permitted. Pharr’s application was fast-tracked due to the dedicated efforts of city leaders and staff, consulting engineers Structural Engineering Associates, Inc., and others.
Between April and August 2020, Pharr leaders and representatives consulted with major U.S. and Mexican stakeholders, which led to more than 60 letters of support from elected officials at all levels and from both nations.
The Pharr City Commission authorized the submission of the presidential permit amendment application to the U. S. Department of State, which was submitted on September 30, 2020, and just three months later, the permit was issued.
The Presidential Permit defines the “facilities” to be constructed as “the portion in the United States of the international bridge project — to be constructed adjacent to the existing Pharr International Bridge.”
Hernandez said he expects the project to break ground this year.
“I anticipate that (traffic) will grow by 35, if not almost a good 100%. It will contribute to the tax base in the city of Pharr and its revenue, thereby allowing you to do more projects for the citizens of Pharr and also obviously reduce their tax rate for their property taxes,” Hernandez said.
This is the most recent of several capital improvement projects taking place at the bridge complex. Other projects that have been in progress since 2020 include the Commercial Staging Area, VBX Project ID 2020-45B5; the Dock Expansion Phase I-Dry Units, VBX Project ID 2020-45B8; and the Dock Expansion Phase II-Cold Units, VBX Project ID 2020-45BA.
Illustration of the flow of commerce dependent on Pharr International Bridge. Courtesy: Pharr International Bridge.
Adolfo Pesquera (Reporter/Editor) is a veteran news journalist. He has worked for Hearst Corp., American Lawyer Media, News Corp and Freedom Communications. His work has been published in newspapers and magazines across the USA. He is a journalism graduate of UT-RGV. He writes, edits and creates digital pages for VBX.