Pharr Mayor Ambrosio Hernandez, M.D., and City of Pharr, Texas, officials are excited to announce that on December 31, President Donald J. Trump issued a presidential permit for the expansion of the Pharr International Bridge,
The news comes after a brief yet influential period of impressing upon the federal government the urgency and need for the expansion by city leaders, U.S. senators, and other key stakeholders. The 2020 permit amends the current permit to allow for the addition of another bridge at the international port of entry.
This second span will give Pharr a competitive advantage by adding additional lanes to completely separate trucks and cars, dedicating specific lanes for empties, full cargo, certified cargo, and passenger vehicles, thereby adding capacity and reducing wait times. With this permit, Pharr will now have an official gate-to-gate FAST lane, or set of FAST lanes, from Mexico to the United States.
Typically, a permit process can take multiple years before approval; Pharr’s application was fast-tracked due to the dedicated efforts of city leaders and staff, consulting engineers Structural Engineering Associates, Inc., and others, who prioritized this project and worked diligently with U.S. and Mexican officials, despite the challenges of being in the midst of a global pandemic.
The City of Pharr worked with Senators Ted Cruz and John Cornyn and their staff on this project, which began in September 2019 with a meeting between Pharr’s team and the White House arranged by Senator Cruz. Senator Cornyn led efforts and coordinated meetings between Pharr and the U. S. Department of State, which led to the formal notification to the U.S. Department of State in April 2020 of Pharr’s intent to expand the international bridge. Between April and August of 2020, Pharr leaders and representatives consulted with major U. S. and Mexican stakeholders, culminating in more than 60 letters of support from elected officials at the local, state, federal, and international levels.
The project also received support from all major transportation and trade associations, border infrastructure groups, and private industry partners that utilize the bridge on a daily basis. 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.
“It is unprecedented that a sitting President of the United States grants a Presidential Permit Amendment with record time, and we thank him for doing so,” said Mayor Hernandez. “This new year began on a positive note with the issuing of this permit for the expansion of the Pharr International Bridge,” Hernandez continued. “The City of Pharr is appreciative of the diligent efforts made possible by the government relations and bridge teams at the city level, in coordination with Senators Ted Cruz and John Cornyn, which opened the doors of communication with our presidential administration and federal agencies to accomplish this goal with unprecedented speed due to the forthright and transparent communication regarding the need and urgency of this project,” he continued.
“This permit amends the current permit to allow for the expansion of the Pharr International Bridge, and will further support the record numbers of international trade and commerce that transpires on our port of entry,” Hernandez added. “It is a wonderful new year, indeed!” he continued.
“Pharr’s ports of entry serve as a gateway for billions of dollars in cross-border trade that benefits our state’s economy,” said Senator Cornyn. “Expanding the Pharr International Bridge will enhance trade and travel and benefit all who use the facility,” he added.
Senator Cruz remarked, “Texas is home to some of the nation’s busiest border crossings and the Pharr International Bridge serves as an important port of entry to facilitate the United States’ trade and commerce with Mexico. I am grateful the Trump Administration recognized the importance of expanding the Pharr International Bridge to further enhance the U.S.-Mexico trade partnership and increase commerce between the two nations,” Senator Cruz said. “I’d like to commend the leadership of Mayor Dr. Ambrosio Hernandez, City of Pharr City Council, the staff at the City of Pharr, and community leaders for their diligent work on this project and working with our office to help ensure this project was permitted in record time. I was proud to support the Pharr International Bridge expansion project as millions of jobs, in Texas and across the country, depend upon trade with Mexico. I will continue working to ensure future trade opportunities benefit Texas and put American jobs first.”