SA congressman supports building new international bridge in Del Rio
While some in Washington, D.C., seek funding to build a wall along the southern border, one of San Antonio's five congressmen has pledged his support for building a new international bridge about 160 miles west of the Alamo City.
U.S. Rep. Will Hurd, R-Helotes, on Wednesday said bottlenecks at the Port of Long Beach in California are sending cargo from Asian nations to the Pacific Coast of Mexico and then overland into the United States.
"If those ships docked in Mexico and you draw a straight line between where that cargo is going to go in the United States, that line is somewhere between Presidio and Del Rio," Hurd said during a luncheon hosted by the San Antonio Transportation Association. "The Mexican government understands that and is building the infrastructure on the Mexican side to facilitate that kind of traffic into the United States and Canada. But when you look at our side, it doesn't match up."
Del Rio is home to one international bridge that links the Texas border city to Ciudad Acuña, Coahuila. Meanwhile, an international border crossing on top of the nearby Amistad Dam is not able to accommodate 18-wheelers.
Over the past few years, officials from both sides of the border have talked about building a new international bridge in Del Rio to alleviate congestion in Laredo — one of the busiest land ports in the U.S.
"This is where we need to be working with our colleagues on the southern border to understand how these traffic patterns will impact our roads," Hurd said. "That's why we need to make sure that we have the infrastructure on the U.S. side that will match up when these traffic patterns change."
Hurd and Del Rio have found an ally in the San Antonio-based Border Trade Alliance, which the congressman said is working with American and Mexican officials to ensure that customs officials understand future traffic patterns.
"We have to make sure that we have enough customs officials and other officials to facilitate that kind of movement," Hurd said. "Unfortunately, [the Department of Homeland Security] — right now — does its staffing based on previous traffic patterns, not future traffic patterns. That's something that we're trying to work on, so that as international commerce increases, we can meet that demand."
A new international bridge will require a presidential permit from the U.S. State Department. Hurd's staff gained experience working on a similar project in the western end of the congressman's vast district, which spans from San Antonio to the Big Bend region.
"We got a new bridge built in Presidio, and the whole process was done in a year and a half," Hurd said. "So, it's doable in Del Rio. And now, Eagle Pass is looking at one as well."