Rep. Cuellar Secures Permitting Reform Language for World Trade Bridge Expansion
Cuellar recently spoke with the White House’s National Security Council and Council on Environmental Quality to expedite approval of the WTB expansion
Washington | Arturo C. Olivarez, DC Press Secretary (956-970-1441), July 6, 2023
Washington, DC – U.S. Congressman Henry Cuellar (TX-28) secured language to reform the Presidential permit process in the Fiscal Year 2024 State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs House appropriations bill. The language will streamline and expedite the Presidential permit approval process for bridges, including the World Trade Bridge expansion project in Laredo. In 2022, U.S. trade with Mexico accounted for an estimated $863.4 billion in goods and services. Laredo is the nation’s #1 inland port of entry, and the city’s World Trade Bridge has experienced large increases in commercial traffic since opening in 2000. So far in Fiscal Year 2023, 1,705,646 commercial vehicles have crossed the World Trade Bridge, a 6.3% increase over the previous year.
Presidential permits are required for construction projects at border crossings. Obtaining a permit currently requires an environmental review, which often takes years to complete. Rep. Cuellar’s language would direct the President to issue conditional permits for projects while environmental reviews required under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) are ongoing.
“Bridges are an economic lifeline for our border communities – they facilitate international trade, commerce, and tourism. I secured language in the FY24 State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs appropriations bill to expedite the Presidential permit process and avoid unnecessary delays in bridge construction,” said Congressman Cuellar. “Laredo is the nation’s #1 inland port of entry, and our infrastructure is critical to achieving that. I recently spoke with the White House’s National Security Council and Council on Environmental Quality to expedite approval of a Presidential permit to expand Laredo’s World Trade Bridge. The proposed expansion will add an additional eight lanes to the World Trade Bridge, bringing the total to 16 lanes and enabling more trade with our southern neighbor. Thank you to House Appropriations State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Subcommittee Chairman Mario Diaz-Balart, the Border Trade Alliance, and Laredo Mayor Dr. Victor Treviño for working with me to deliver this important language. I will continue to fight for improved infrastructure in our border communities.”
“The Border Trade Alliance applauds Rep. Cuellar for his leadership to streamline the Presidential permit process for international bridges. Modern, properly equipped international bridges and ports of entry are essential to the country’s security and economic standing. However, the current process to build new construction is much too cumbersome and lengthy, slowing expansion for trade and travel while diminishing the quality of life in border communities. We look forward to working with Rep. Cuellar to ensure that his proposal becomes law,” said Britton Mullen, President of the Border Trade Alliance.
“The proposal by Congressman Cuellar to expedite the presidential permit process is great news as the World Trade Bridge expansion is an essential project for the continued prosperity of our community and the United States,” said Dr. Victor Treviño, Mayor of Laredo.
To view a copy of Congressman Cuellar’s language, click here.