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Borderlands: Opening Texas bridge to cargo trucks will be ‘game changer’

South Texas officials want to expand commercial cargo services at the Anzalduas International Bridge on the US-Mexico border. (Photo: City of McAllen)

Borderlands is a weekly rundown of developments in the world of United States-Mexico cross-border trucking and trade. This week: Opening Texas bridge to cargo trucks will be game changer; Amazon will open a logistics center in Mérida; new service links ports of Brownsville and Tampa Bay; Rhenus Group expands in Mexico.

Opening Texas bridge to cargo trucks will be ‘game changer’

Adding full commercial truck service to Anzalduas International Bridge in South Texas will be a “game changer” once it is open to cargo trucks, said McAllen City Manager Roy Rodriguez.  

Anzalduas International Bridge is located on the U.S.-Mexico border in Texas’ Rio Grande Valley. The bridge is currently only open to passenger vehicles and empty commercial trucks driving southbound into Mexico.

“Anzalduas International Bridge is really the future for us and really a big part of the future of our region,” Rodriguez said during a Monday webinar hosted by the Rio Grande Valley Partnership.

“We are currently designing the cargo facilities, which is just going to be a game changer. When we open it up for cargo, it’s going to really really develop our region and our state,” Rodriguez said.

Anzalduas International Bridge opened in 2009. It connects Mission, Texas, with Reynosa, Mexico, and is run jointly by the cities of McAllen, Mission, and Granjeno.

Anzalduas International Bridge began accepting southbound crossings to Mexico of cargo trucks in 2016. During fiscal year 2018-19 at Anzalduas, 21,467 empty trucks crossed the bridge.

For years, Anzalduas bridge has been overshadowed by the nearby Pharr-Reynosa International Bridge, one of the busiest commercial border crossings in the U.S.

The Pharr-Reynosa International Bridge’s trade totaled $3.21 billion for the month of October, according to WorldCity. Pharr had 623,155 truck crossings during fiscal year 2018-19.

In September 2019, city officials in Mission began the design process for northbound and southbound commercial lanes, as well as expanding cargo inspection facilities at Anzalduas.

“This month, we will have the plans to develop Anzalduas cargo at 90% complete,” Rodriguez said. “We will be submitting the designs to the [U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s] Donations Acceptance Program (DAP).”

The DAP program allows Customs and Border Protection to accept donations of real property, personal property, monetary donations and services from public and private sector entities in support of CBP operations.

The city of Mission budgeted $4 million for the design of new commercial lanes/facilities at Anzalduas, but has not budgeted or scheduled a timeline for construction.

Logistics and distribution facilities fill the area around the Pharr-Reynosa International Bridge, and a similar surge in facilities could happen near the Anzalduas bridge to accommodate more commercial traffic with Mexico, Rodriguez said.

“A lot of folks outside of our region don’t realize that parts coming from Mexico northbound are going as far as Michigan with auto parts made right here across the border,” Rodriguez said.

Amazon will open a logistics center in Mérida

Seattle-based e-commerce giant Amazon recently announced a new logistics center near the Mexican city of Mérida.

It will be Amazon’s first logistics facility in Mexico’s southeast region. Mérida is located in the Yucatán Peninsula, along the Gulf of Mexico.

Amazon officials did not disclose the size of the new logistics center, or how many employees will work there.

“Amazon’s expansion reflects our commitment to customers in Mexico, which is focused on improving the customer experience,” Amazon director of operations Diego Méndez de la Luz, said in a statement

Amazon is one of Mexico’s largest e-commerce retailers, along with Walmart and Argentina’s MercadoLibre. 

In October, Amazon announced a $100 million investment to expand across Mexico. Amazon operates five fulfillment centers, two sorting centers, and 27 delivery/logistics stations across the country.

New weekly shipping service expands Mexico trade

Port Tampa Bay recently expanded its connection to cross-border U.S.-Mexico trade with the launch of a weekly container service with the Port of Brownsville.

The two-vessel service, operated by Work Cat Trans Gulf, will link Tampa, Florida, with Brownsville, Texas, across the Gulf of Mexico, with container-on-barge service. 

The Port of Brownsville is the only deepwater port along the U.S.-Mexico border, according to its website.

“We’re excited to formally launch this new weekly service between the large and rapidly growing Northern Mexico, South Texas and Southeastern U.S. markets,” Hoffman said in release. 

Work Cat Trans Gulf was founded in 2014 and is based in St. Petersburg, Florida.

In November, Port Tampa Bay also launched a weekly shuttle service between Mexico’s Port of Altamira, operated by Zim Integrated Shipping Services.

Rhenus Group expands in Mexico

Global logistics provider The Rhenus Group recently expanded its air and ocean division to include Mexico City.

The new branch offers cross-border services between the U.S, Mexico and the Americas, said Rhenus Mexico managing director Pamela Osornio.

“Our presence in Mexico City reinforces Rhenus’ commitment to the Americas,” Osornia said in a statement.

The Rhenus Group’s new branch in Mexico City is 20 minutes away from the Benito Juarez International Airport (MEX), officials said. In addition, Rhenus Mexico has facilities in the country’s main seaports of Manzanillo, Lazaro Cardenas, Veracruz and Altamira.

The Rhenus Group is based in Holzwickede, Germany and operates 750 locations worldwide, employing 33,000 people. 

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Noi Mahoney

Noi Mahoney is a Texas-based journalist who covers cross-border trade, logistics and supply chains for FreightWaves. He graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a degree in English in 1998. Mahoney has more than 20 years experience as a journalist, working for newspapers in Florida, Maryland and Texas. Contact [email protected]