Pharr, Texas – On Wednesday, June 22, 2016, the U. S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced the approval of the City of Pharr’s proposal for border crossing projects under the Donations Acceptance Program, an initiative that explores and facilitate partnerships for port of entry infrastructure and technology improvements.
The Pharr proposal was one of three selected nationwide under the Donations Acceptance Program, which was authorized by Section 559 of the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2014. The program allows for U. S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), in conjunction with the General Services Administration (GSA), to accept donations from private sector and government entities for port of entry construction, alterations, operations and maintenance activities. The program allows for direct community investment in international ports of entry, strengthening partnerships among local communities and the federal government, and ultimately helping to improve international trade and commerce upon which our region, and our nation, rely. Under this program, t he City of Pharr is donating to the CBP and GSA construction projects for infrastructure improvements inside the Pharr Port of Entry.
This week, U. S. Congressmen Filemón Vela and Rubén Hinojosa and CBP sent out announcements congratulating the City of Pharr on the approval of its proposal. On Wednesday, June 22, 2016, City of Pharr leaders and CBP officials attended a ceremony to commemorate the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding for the projects to commence.
Pharr Mayor Ambrosio Hernandez, M.D., has long been a proponent of innovative partnerships such as this program, knowing that it takes a coordinated effort between local municipalities and the federal government (and often, international partners) to work hand-in-hand to improve efficiencies at international ports of entry.
“Having a seat and voice at the table is the only way programs of this magnitude are accomplished,” said Mayor Hernandez. “My goal as Mayor has always been to strengthen partnerships with our federal representatives, our state legislators, our international counterparts, and private industry leaders, to develop i nnovative collaborations that allow us to leverage resources and find mutually-beneficial solutions to address our respective needs,” Hernandez added. “We have been strategic in having key individuals in my administration with the right experience who are able to foster strong relationships with our federal partners, so that Pharr is kept on the forefront of projects such as this,” he continued.
In addition to praising Pharr’s leadership in developing the innovative partnership, Hernandez applauded the efforts of federal representatives who strongly supported Pharr’s proposal.
“Our region is overwhelmingly fortunate to have our representatives on the national level representing the needs of our taxpayers,” said Mayor Hernandez. “Congressman Rubén Hinojosa, Congressman Henry Cuellar, and Congressman Filemón Vela continue to advocate for the needs of Pharr and the region, and we are grateful for their hard work,” Hernandez added.
“Pharr has begun to benefit from these continued and strategic partnerships with our federal leaders, and this program is a true representation of our combined efforts,” said Hernandez. “This partnership will have a direct economic impact in our area through improved infrastructure, reduced wait times, increased capacity, and expanded services, and we are grateful for the significant support our proposal received,” he continued.
Of the projects’ approval, Congressman Vela stated, ” Countless hours of work and significant investments made these projects possible, and I applaud the vision and foresight of our local leaders to transform this bold idea into reality.” Congressman Hinojosa added, “I look forward to the collaborative development and expansion of our port-of-entry infrastructure facilities.”
The City of Pharr’s proposal was comprised of three separate projects, all of which are part of the Pharr International Bridge’s 5-Year Master Plan. The approved proposal includes the expansion of a secondary inspection dock space, construction of a new cold inspection facility, and construction of a new agricultural inspection training and development facility ( See attached image). Details are outlined below.
The expansion will be an additional wing to the current dock, which will accommodate 60-80 additional trucks for intensive inspection. The project calls for 2 additional docks, sitting back to back in order to inspect trucks on both sides (30-40 trucks per side). The project will be done in 2 phases so as not to interrupt the current flow. Currently, the dock’s depth is only 50 feet; the expansion calls for an additional 50 feet, for a total of 100 feet per dock space.
Cold Inspection Facility
The new facility will augment the current cold inspection service area by creating an additional 3,000-6,000 square feet of cold rooms. The project calls for existing dry dock space to be converted to cold dock space, as well as the ability to accommodate frozen commodities. The project will consist of 6-12 additional dock doors, which will be completely airtight sealed when the truck backs up onto the dock. This will prevent the cold chain from being broken, which will allow for a safer and environmentally sound inspection process of certain perishables/produce that require colder temperatures in order to preserve their life expectancy and increase their shelf life when they get to market.
Agriculture Training & Development Facility
The new facility will be a completely new brick and mortar building designed to meet the growing demands of the perishables/produce industry. The new facility will be a fully-equipped training and development center for agriculture specialists in order to keep up with the exponential growth of perishables/produce importations that are being forecasted for the next 3-5 years.
With the MOU signed this week, the first phase of these projects, Phase I: Planning and Development, is expected to commence in October 2016.