Wednesday, July 4, 2007

TxDOT commissions border-wide bridge traffic study

The Brownsville Hearald - July 1, 2007
McALLEN — The Texas Department of Transportation is doing a yearlong study on how to make crossing into the United States from Mexico easier.

TxDOT is working with Austin-based planning, design and public involvement firm RJ Rivera Associates Inc. to conduct the Border Crossing Travel Time Study. Firm staff will look at road conditions and traffic and pedestrian counts up to two miles from 26 Texas-Mexico border crossings.

The study began in January and ends early next year. Some preliminary meetings have already taken place in Pharr with city and county government and transportation leaders, the Texas Department of Public Safety and others.

The study does not encompass traffic waiting on bridges or at security checkpoints, said Rafael Cruz Rodriguez, the firm’s project manager.

The study’s purpose is to determine what projects can be developed in five years or less to improve traffic and pedestrian flow.

Bettering border crossings would help with the flow of goods and services, said Keith Patridge, president and chief executive officer of the McAllen Economic Development Corp. He said improvements like streamlining state and federal vehicle checks should not hurt homeland security.

“It’s not a paperwork issue,” Patridge said. “It’s actually the physical constraints that come in by the capacity of the bridge roads, the movement of getting trucks off the bridge to (Expressway 83) and ultimately to (U.S. Highway) 281 north. All of those are the issues that create more of an issue than the actual time on the bridge.”

The firm also has set up a hotline to gather public input.

“It’s just basically to accommodate concerned citizens, to let us know what they feel the issues are or what experiences have they had while they are going through the TxDOT network once they cross the border crossing,” Rodriguez said.

Emma Garcia of San Juan has her ideas for making the crossing process better. She occasionally uses the Hidalgo-Reynosa International Bridge to trek to Reynosa to shop and said both sides of the bridge need litter to be picked up and more security and lighting.

She said it has taken her up to two hours to leave the bridge and security area and wait in traffic on International Boulevard in Hidalgo, which becomes South 23rd Street once in the McAllen city limits.

“Sometimes you have to turn off the air conditioning because the car starts to turn off,” said Garcia, a unit director at the Pharr Boys & Girls Club.


RJ Rivera Associates Inc. has set up a toll-free hotline people can call in English and Spanish to give comments on their bridge crossing experiences. The phone number is (877) 800-6680.

See Brownsville Herald

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