August 24, 2022 450 PM
PRESIDIO — After what seemed like positive momentum earlier in the summer, construction on the Presidio International Bridge has been stalled yet again — this time, pending a signed agreement from Mexico. Governor Greg Abbott signed off on the project in April, and in June, officials on this side of the border were hopeful that construction would pick back up by July.
“Right now it’s in a holding pattern,” Blanco told The Big Bend Sentinel last week while touring the Big Bend region. “We’re waiting to hear from Mexico. There’s got to be a federal agreement that’s approved on both sides, so we’re holding up on that.”
The senator went on to say that the status of the bridge construction is a top concern among his Presidio County constituents.
Locals were frustrated earlier this year by what seemed to be a delay on behalf of the governor’s office. Because the American side of the bridge is owned by TxDOT and the Mexican side is administered by an agency known as CAPUFE, any construction requires cooperation between the state of Texas and the Mexican government. The process entails the drafting and signing of a document called a memorandum of understanding (MOU) in accordance with the Texas Government Code.
The project entails constructing a parallel two-lane bridge structure for traffic headed into Mexico, located upstream of the existing bridge. “The purpose of the project is to improve mobility by preventing the disruption of southbound traffic during large cargo crossings,” a representative with state Sen. Cesar Blanco’s office explained to Presidio County Judge Cinderela Guevara in an email dated August 17. “Additionally, the project is intended to improve pedestrian safety and mobility.”
Construction has been stalled since 2020, and there have been a number of fits and starts to the American side of the project — as of March, the Mexican government had “substantially completed their half,” per Presidio Mayor John Ferguson.
The delays now may be due to broader tensions between the two countries. “I call [the bridge] a political hammer,” Presidio International Port Authority Executive Director Jake Giesbrecht explained to the Presidio City Council on August 18. The memorandum of understanding languished on Gov. Abbott’s desk for months, and in that time, some of the government officials involved in drafting the MOU are no longer in office.
Currently, American officials are awaiting signatures from Mexico’s secretary of communications and transportation (SICT). “They wanted some different language, but once he signs that, we can go ahead,” Giesbrecht explained. “They’re thinking it’ll be less than 30 days [from that signature]. We have to dot some I’s and cross some T’s.”