Pharr unveils new $1.5M international bridge toll system

Pharr unveiled its new $1.5 million toll collection system Tuesday after months of pushing the new process to the trade community.

Local, state and federal officials were on-hand to witness the system’s launch. License plate readers, laser scanners and account notifications similar to bank account alerts are being implemented at the Pharr-Reynosa International Bridge.

Companies that send trucks across the bridge will be better able to track their vehicles and accounts they have set up with the bridge, and other entities through their trucks pass, such as toll roads in South Texas.

“As a city, we understand how important it is to continually provide our customers with the best opportunities to be successful, in order for Pharr to remain competitive as an international port of entry,” said Pharr Mayor Ambrosio Hernandez. “By implementing the latest technology, we are working to help our customers streamline their operations and more easily and effectively manage their businesses.”

Many trucks that cross the bridge continue on to the Port of Brownsville, where goods are then shipped via barge or ship. Between the port and Pharr are toll roads in Cameron County, which is why county officials and Pharr commissioners signed an interlocal agreement last June to enhance the toll collection on State Highway 550, the 10-mile stretch from Interstate 69 to the port’s entrance.

The city expects to accrue about $33,000 annually by collecting tolls from trucks that cross its bridge and subsequently continue on to the port using SH 550, according to Pharr Bridge Director Luis Bazan last June.

The new revenue stream will boost the Pharr bridge’s already-robust $12 million yearly intake. Pharr has the only full-service commercial land port of entry in the area, which is a financial boon for the city but can also harm the trade industry, as wait times for trucks often back up for hours.

Up until now, companies using the bridge have been able to sign into a Pharr-specific website where they could only view the barebones of their account. Cameron County Regional Mobility Authority officials presented the new system to a room of trade community employees this summer in South Pharr.

“They can pull their statement, and even that takes a full 24 hours for them to even view it,” said Jesus Adrian Rincones, chief financial officer for the CCRMA.

The bridge toll payments, which companies currently route to Pharr through PayPal, is not efficient, Pharr officials said. This new system will allow customers to monitor their accounts in real time, they won’t have to pay an extra fee to PayPal and the system will alert customers of their account balance like a banking notification email.