McAllen receives $63M loan for Anzalduas bridge expansion after project price increases

The city of McAllen was approved for a loan of up to $63 million for the expansion of the Anzalduas International Bridge, a project that now carries a higher price tag than initially expected.

City officials on Monday celebrated the announcement that the North American Development Bank, or NADBank, approved the loan for the project, which will convert the bridge into a full-cargo port of entry with commercial vehicle inspection facilities that will help process southbound and northbound traffic there.

“Opening additional capacity at an existing port of entry in the region will help relieve congestion at other area ports of entry that are currently experiencing crossing delays, resulting in a net reduction in greenhouse gas emissions and criteria pollutants caused by commercial traffic,” NADBank stated in a news release issued last week.

In a video message posted Monday, McAllen Mayor Javier Villalobos said the bridge’s new inspection and cargo facilities would help grow trade between the U.S. and Mexico for the benefit of the state and the local economy.

Traffic is seen backed up on the Anzalduas International Bridge in the the early morning hours of Nov. 8, 2021, in Mission. (Delcia Lopez | [email protected])

The loan, which was approved by the NADBank board of directors during their semi-annual meeting, comes after bid proposals the city received for the project came in at a higher cost than the $50 million price tag that was initially projected.

In April, the city’s purchasing department received two bid proposals.

The lowest bid came from Posillico Civil Inc., a New York-based construction company, with a cost of $81.2 million. The higher bid, at a cost of $87.6 million, came from Foremost Paving Inc., a company based in Weslaco.

Rodriguez previously told The Monitor that the high bids were likely due to contractors “placing a big-dollar amount in their bids to cover risk” because of supply problems and personnel problems.

The city commissioners court rejected the bids in May and agreed to re-advertise the project.

However, McAllen City Manager Roel “Roy” Rodriguez said he doesn’t expect the re-bidding process to bring down the price significantly, but indicated it will remain in the area of $80 million.

“We didn’t reject it because of the amount, but because of what was lacking in their proposal,” Rodriguez said of the decision to reject the two bids that were submitted.

Traffic is seen on the Anzalduas International Bridge in the the early morning hours Nov. 8, 2021, in Mission. (Delcia Lopez | [email protected])

He explained the proposals lacked technical issues required by the Texas Department of Transportation, or TxDOT, which he said was the primary reason they were rejected.

“I don’t want to leave the impression that we rejected it and we expect it to come way down,” Rodriguez said.

Still, the hope is that the price will drop because the city changed the amount of time that the company — that will eventually be selected — has to construct the project, and it also shortened the amount of time they will hold a bid.

With the approximately $26 million grant the city already received from TxDOT, Rodriguez said they don’t expect to borrow the full $63 million from NADBank.

“We’ve got a cushion there so that we don’t have to go back and revise our figure,” he said.

The city has assured that funds the city does borrow for the project will not come at a cost to taxpayers, but will instead be paid off with revenue from the bridge.

As for the re-bidding process, the city has a tentative deadline of July 13 for those bids to be submitted, though that date is pending confirmation from TxDOT.

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