Community Weighs In On Ojinaga-Presidio Bridge Expansion 8/28/13
CBS 7 News
August 28, 2013
PRESIDIO-The border town of Presidio hosted an important meeting this evening. It’s a big step in expanding the international Ojinaga-Presidio bridge that connects the two cities.
The move could cost tens of millions of dollars, but business owners and commuters say it’s worth every penny.
More and more people and goods are passing through the presidio entryway, but the bridge between Ojinaga and Presidio is only two lanes. Local officials say it’s time for a change, because it just can’t keep up with demand
“As we modernize our trade, we also have to modernize our ports of entry,” said Presidio County Judge Paul Hunt
The expansion of the Presidio-Ojinaga bridge is expected to cost tens of millions of dollars and will add another bridge with two additional lanes and a toll to pay for its construction and operation
“This will allow us to double the capacity of the bridge,” Hunt said.
With just two lanes, it’s a big inconvenience for manufactured home maker Solitaire—which has a plant in Ojinaga and a satellite office in Presidio. They have to completely stop traffic between the two countries to cross with their homes.
“This town and this city is poised for growth with the right kinds of modifications, including the new bridge,” said Consultant with Solitaire Homes, H. Cowan.
TXDOT hosted a community meeting tonight as part of the first phase of the project – a $1.8 million dollar effort which includes environmental studies and bridge plans. Permission must be granted from both the US and Mexican government to move forward on the build.
“It’s a $1.8 million dollar project just to get two signatures,” Hunt said.
The county is spearheading the project—with a $25,000 investment alongside state and federal funds. They say with or without the expansion, Customs and Border Patrol will see an expansion at the busy port.
Port Director David Lambrix tells CBS 7 that the port is seeing 500-600 more cars per day and is second only in volume to the port of entry at El Paso.
“With or without the expansion of the bridge, there will be additional facilities on the southbound side in order to meet those mandates of southbound inspections,” Hunt said.
Cowan says his company is also asking local leaders to expand the border access ramps for transporting his goods—an effort he says will allow them to expand their operations.
We asked residents at the meeting what they thought of the plans.
“The traffic is so bad right here, it takes us two hours to cross,” said Ojinaga Resident Joe Zubiate.
“Unfortunately we are faced with a bridge that is too small now, and our society is growing,” said Ojinaga Resident Carmen Uranga.
Input from tonight’s community meeting will be used to decide the final plans for the bridge expansion. No word yet on a start date for construction—but it won’t be until executive approval of the plans from both countries.