Mission assesses status of Madero Bridge project

MISSION — It would be at least another 30 months before work on the Madero Bridge Project could actually begin, placing the start of construction just at the cusp of the July 2021 deadline, when the city’s presidential permit is set to expire.

However, even if the deadline were to pass and an extension were not granted by the U.S. Department of State, the city could simply reapply, said Daniel Rios of S&B Infrastructure, the company contracted to conduct a feasibility study for the project.

Rios delivered the findings of the study, which is unofficial pending approval by the Anzalduas International Bridge Board, during a Mission workshop that served to give the council a status update on the project.

Though the permit is for an international rail and vehicular bridge, S&B did not include rail in their study and did not include the Mexico side of the bridge project.

It focused on four components: environment, financial, traffic and alternative layouts and crossing alignments.

In terms of environmental, no fatal historical or cultural constraints were found. However, an environmental impact study has yet to be conducted.

Rios also outlined possible funding sources for the project, the installed cost of which is estimated to be $114.1 million.

The idea would be to have the federal government pay $70 million while the non-federal sponsor — be it the city or the bridge board — pay for $44.1 million.

Left to be decided is the bridge’s direction that would mutually benefit both countries in terms of construction costs.

“On the United States half, we’re ahead,” Rios said. “We have to bring the Mexican side up to speed.”

In June, they gave a presentation to the bi-national committee in Mexico City, and dislike of the location, the bridge being too long, and the need to conduct study for their part were among the responses.

“There hasn’t been anything done to date to correct that action,” Rios said.

The Secretariat of Communications and Transportation, or SCT, the Mexican entity that regulates commercial traffic, studied the Mexican side, but the study wasn’t fully developed, Rios said.

Richard Perez of Pathfinder Public Affairs also said it was important to complete the feasibility study on the Mexican side because it would be too risky to spend money on other components of the project, such as the environmental impact statement, without it.

“We can’t go very far without a Mexican partner,” Perez said.

Mayor Armando O’Caña said the city was likely going to fund the feasibility study for the Mexican side to get it off the ground.

“I think it’s in the best interest of our city and our citizens, and the Madero International Bridge project, that we do that,” the mayor said.

The city would be going out of for bids for the feasibility and environmental studies, O’Caña said.

While 30 months is the fastest that construction could begin, O’Caña said the city was working on developing an action plan that would schedule construction for 2027 with completion slated for 2032.