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Borderlands: Texas bridge to become full-service cross-border commercial port

Texas bridge to become full-service cross-border commercial port

The Anzalduas International Bridge in South Texas is set to become a full-service commercial port of entry after receiving over $81 million for a project that will add multiple lanes for trucks and new cargo bays for inspections.

The bridge, which opened in 2009, is located on the U.S.-Mexico border in Texas’ Rio Grande Valley and is currently only open to passenger vehicles and empty commercial trucks driving southbound into Mexico. It is owned and operated by the cities of McAllen, Mission and Hidalgo.

“We’re going to be constructing the necessary infrastructure so that fully loaded trucks can go to and from Mexico,” Juan Olaguibel, superintendent of bridges for the city of McAllen, told FreightWaves. 

Anzalduas operates six northbound and southbound lanes for passenger vehicles. The Anzalduas Land Port of Entry Expansion Project will add two additional lanes, one each for northbound and southbound commercial trucks, as well as adding the necessary facilities for an international port.

“We’re building completely new infrastructure for cargo — cargo bays, docking stations, everything that’s needed for full cargo to be inspected that’s coming in from Mexico, as well as all the facilities needed for cargo leaving the United States and going into Mexico,” Olaguibel said.

Official estimates said the bridge will process about 2,000 commercial trucks a day in north-south trade in the first few years of operation.

“Our forecast is for conservatively 2,000 a day, but we know the demand is there,” Olaguibel said. 

The project has been in the planning stages for several years but received a boost when the city of McAllen recently secured a $63 million loan from the North American Development Bank, along with a $21 million grant from the state of Texas. 

McAllen-based Wilson Construction Co. was also recently selected to build the new inbound and outbound commercial lanes and facilities at Anzalduas. The project is expected to be completed by the first quarter of 2024.

Olaguibel said the project will increase trade with Mexico exponentially, create more economic growth for the Rio Grande Valley and reduce wait times for the nearby Pharr-Reynosa International Bridge.

“It is a huge deal because of the impact that it will have in the region,” he said. “First of all, it will help reduce the environmental impact because you won’t have trucks idling, waiting for hours to be processed, and you reduce wait times for trucks. Second, you also have a positive economic impact on this region, the state and the U.S. because a lot of times when these trucks come in, they don’t just stay here, their final destination could be up in the Northeast somewhere. It’s about moving trade quicker through the ports of entry and giving all the travelers an added option so they can get their products over here quicker.”

The Pharr-Reynosa International Bridge is located about 12 miles east of Anzalduas in Pharr, Texas. It is one of the busiest commercial border crossings in the U.S., averaging about 6,000 daily commercial trucks, and also the No. 1 land border crossing for fresh produce. In 2021, trade at the bridge totaled a record $42 billion.

Olaguibal said Anzalduas won’t be focusing on fresh produce trade but rather the movement of dry goods, such as medical supplies, electronic products and components and auto parts produced by maquiladora plants just across the border from McAllen in Reynosa, Mexico.

“We want to be able to move the dry goods through the port because right now what’s happening is a dry van truck carrying medical equipment may be waiting behind a produce truck,” he said. “What Anzalduas will do is to facilitate that trade to come through more quickly, not have to wait and make crossings more efficient.”

According to FreightWaves’ SONAR platform, wait times at Pharr-Reynosa International Bridge (WAIT.MFE), Laredo’s World Trade Bridge (WAIT.LRD) and other U.S.-Mexico border ports of entry are up by as much as 17% week over week.

FreightWaves’ SONAR platform shows wait times are sitting at about 124 minutes on average across markets near U.S.-Mexico ports of entry. To learn more about FreightWaves SONAR, click here.

Mexico’s heavy-truck production, exports soar in July

Mexico’s truck production and exports rebounded in July after months of disruption from global supply chain issues and parts shortages, according to new data released by the National Institute of Statistics and Geography.

Production of Mexican-made heavy-duty cargo trucks increased 26% on a year-over-year (y/y) basis in July to 16,314 units, while exports increased 18% y/y to 13,032 units.

The U.S. continues to be the main destination for trucks produced in Mexico, accounting for 94.3% of exports in July, followed by Canada and Colombia. 

“The export and production figures demonstrate the importance that the North American market has for the [Mexican] economy as a whole and for the national production industry,” Miguel Elizalde, president of Mexico’s National Association of Bus, Truck and Tractor Producers (ANPACT), said during a monthly news conference on Wednesday. 

Freightliner was the top truck producer and exporter in Mexico for the month. The company built 8,596 trucks in July, a 5.6% y/y increase, and exported 7,467 units, a 1.2% y/y rise.

International Trucks Inc. produced 5,825 units in July, an 86% y/y increase, and exported 4,917 units, a 60% y/y jump.

Kenworth produced 1,195 units in July, a 3% y/y increase, and exported 634 trucks, a 1.4% y/y improvement.

Texas port receives $13.6M to renovate rail yard

The Port of Port Arthur recently received a grant from the Department of Transportation to turn an inactive rail yard into a new multimodal freight facility, according to a news release.

The $13.6 million grant will convert 25.5 acres of an abandoned rail yard in Port Arthur into a multimodal area. The project aims to reduce truck and vessel dwell times while improving the port’s multimodal cargo-handling capabilities and promoting local jobs.

“This is welcome news for Port Arthur,” U.S. Rep. Randy Weber said in a statement. “Our ports here in southeast Texas — and the petrochemical and maritime industries they support — are critical to the economic success of the U.S., not just our region.”

The Port of Port Arthur is located in Port Arthur, Texas, about 90 miles east of Houston and 19 miles from the Gulf of Mexico. The port is one of the nation’s busiest for fuels and other petrochemical products produced by nearby refineries.

Trucking company owner sentenced to prison for $12.7M fraud 

The owner of a Midland, Texas-based trucking company was sentenced Wednesday to 24 months in prison and ordered to pay more than $12 million in restitution for failing to pay taxes over a six-year period.

Thomas Valdez Rodriguez, 45, was the owner of Tom-E-Lee Trucking and Tom-E-Lee Industries, according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Texas.

Rodriguez reportedly used some of the money to purchase Dallas Cowboys season tickets on the 50-yard line and chartered jets to take him and his friends to the football games, according to the release. He also purchased a new residence for over $2 million.

Rodriguez failed to pay employment taxes withheld from employees at his trucking company starting in 2012 and his industry company starting in 2015. He also reportedly neglected to pay personal income taxes starting in 2011.

Failure to pay these taxes from the business continued until 2018. According to the federal court, Rodriguez caused a total harm of $12.7 million in unpaid taxes. He pleaded guilty in January to two counts of willful failure to account for and pay federal withholding taxes. 

Watch: FreightWaves carrier update for Aug. 12 discusses how the Baltimore market is tightening as volumes increase.

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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 nmahoney@freightwaves.com