Presidio bridge expansion to move forward, says state senator

PRESIDIO — State Senator César Blanco, Presidio’s representative in Austin, announced on Wednesday that there had been some movement in the prolonged battle to re-initiate stalled construction on the Presidio International Bridge — Governor Abbott has given the Texas Department of Transportation the green light to initiate a Memo of Understanding (MOU) so the construction can move forward, per Senator Blanco’s office, with TxDOT expecting to restart construction this summer and wrap up by the end of the year.

Construction on the American side of the bridge has been stalled for months, resulting in delays and headaches for travelers and customs officials alike. 

The Memo of Understanding — an agreement between the U.S., Texas, and Mexican officials — will allow the Texas Department of Transportation to carry out an expansion project on the U.S. side of the bridge, putting in an extra lane for both the northbound and southbound side. According to Senator Blanco’s office, TxDOT is working on finalizing the MOU so it can be signed by officials.

Presidio city officials were under the impression that an MOU had already been drafted and was simply waiting for Abbott’s signature.

Back in February, Port Director Jesus Luis Chavez attended a city council meeting to address public concerns about the state of the bridge, which currently funnels traffic into one lane for a few hundred yards on the Mexican side. In Chavez’s year-long tenure, he’s seen wait times to cross into the United States reach 10 hours or more on holiday weekends. 

“It’s been the same song and dance,” he said. “I have not received a response [from the governor’s office]. We need to push forward as one voice. Because if y’all don’t, the bridge won’t be done by Thanksgiving or Christmas.”

At that meeting, Presidio City Council moved to write a letter to the governor’s office as a push to prioritize the Memo of Understanding. The Presidio bridge is unique among international bridges in that it is maintained by the Texas Department of Transportation — the state’s other international bridges are all owned by private investors or the city or county they are located in. Mexican authorities had mostly completed their half of the bridge, and the missing piece was Abbott’s approval. 

Things were quiet for a few months, though rumors swirled at a Presidio Municipal Development District (PMDD) meeting on April 15 that construction materials for the bridge were starting to pile up in town once again. 

Now, per Senator Blanco, Presidio can expect to see work on the bridge start back up in the coming months.

“The Governor giving the go ahead on the new agreement for the Presidio Bridge is huge news for our district,” Senator Blanco said in a press release. “Improvements to the bridge will improve the movement of both personal and commercial traffic, reduce congestion and bridge wait times, facilitate the continued free flow of commodities between the United States and Mexico, and improve pedestrian safety.”

TxDOT did not return a request for comment on the bridge construction by press time.

Editor’s note: An earlier version of this story, based on an earlier press release from Senator Blanco’s office, stated that the Memo of Understanding for the Presidio International Bridge had been signed by Governor Abbott. The Big Bend Sentinel received has since received updated information from the senator’s office. We regret the error.