Rep. Cuellar Provides Update on International Bridges I and II Renovation Project
$88.8 million federal investment project in Laredo expected to be completed by April 2018
Today, Congressman Henry Cuellar (D-TX-28) toured International Bridges I and II with representatives from the General Services Administration (GSA), U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), the City of Laredo, and the City of Nuevo Laredo. During the tour, Congressman Cuellar was given an update on the renovations at both international crossing facilities.
Earlier this year, an $88.8 million renovation project started at both international bridges. Congressman Cuellar secured the combined funding during the U.S. House Appropriations Committee Fiscal Year 2014 Budget.
The Gateway to the Americas International Bridge, or Bridge 1, is 70 years old and is the oldest of Laredo’s four ports. Its last major renovation was more than 25 years ago. This new funding will allow for a complete internal renovation of the main building to optimize the space to improve pedestrian flow through the port. The expected completion date for the Bridge 1 renovation is September 2017.
Currently, the Bridge 1 has eight pedestrian booths (three indoor, five outdoor) and four automobile booths. U.S.-bound traffic statistics for 2014 show Bridge 1 had approximately 3.5 million pedestrian crossings and 1.3 million automobile crossings, with an estimated 2.5 million estimated automobile passengers. The facility was in need of an updated design to improve wait times, waiting conditions and accessibility for visitors with disabilities or other physical impartments.
As part of this project, improvements will be made to increase the number of pedestrian processing lanes to 14 and add a dedicated bicycle lane, reconfigure the primary car inspection lanes, upgrade and modernize the secondary area for further inspection, modernize security systems so drivers and pedestrians can flow through the port faster and renovate the pedestrian canopy to shade them from the sun while waiting in line.
All of these improvements will make the process of moving pedestrians and automobile passengers faster, safer and more efficient. This should reduce peak automobile wait times from 33 to 15 minutes, and peak pedestrian wait times from 49 to 21 minutes.
The Juarez-Lincoln International Bridge, or Bridge 2, was ranked as the busiest crossing for bus passengers in Fiscal Year 2014, with an average of 2,796 passengers per day (125-150 bus crossings per day). The layout of Bridge 2 is outdated, which contributes to long wait times. Currently, bus processing occurs in an outdoor area that is ill-equipped for the massive bus traffic the port receives. Both the bus and automobile inspections currently occur in exterior spaces, which subjects travelers to uncomfortable and extreme temperatures common to our area. The new design will include a new bus and automobile inspection canopies and the construction of a new combined bus and passenger vehicle inspection facility, which will improve the flow and processing of bus and automobile traffic. It will also provide a very positive first impression of Laredo and the United States for travelers while providing for their safety and national security. The improved bus configuration is expected to reduce peak transit times from 160 to just 40 minutes. The estimated completion date for the Juarez-Lincoln International Bridge renovation is April 2018.
“This investment of $88.8 million will definitely help increase commerce and tourism to our gateway city. Overall, our goal is for travelers to have a pleasant experience when visiting our city, with the hope that they return frequently. At the end, everyone will be reaping the benefits of this project, both visitors and businesses,” said Congressman Cuellar.
Sylvia Hernandez, Regional Administrator for the General Services Administration, stated "Laredo remains a top priority for GSA and allows us to support the mission of the Custom and Border Protection to safeguard America's borders. The newly modernized facility will help with the ever growing demands along the Texas border while also creating employment opportunities that benefit the local economy. Through the collective efforts of GSA, CBP, Congressman Henry Cuellar and the City of Laredo, the project is well on its way to a successful completion."
“This project would not have gotten off the ground without the help and participation of the General Services Administration, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, and the City of Laredo. I thank all of them for their participation and involvement in this renovation project,” said Congressman Cuellar. I also thank the City of Nuevo Laredo and Mexican Customs for their support and patience during this construction phase. Once completed, this will be a project of which we all will be proud.”
Click here to view an animated rendering of the Gateway of the Americas International Bridge (Bridge 1) renovation design: https://youtu.be/_EU79RrnC8k
Click here to view an animated rendering of the Juarez-Lincoln International Bridge (Bridge 2) renovation design: https://youtu.be/OhzmhDjS6zA