Amid much fanfare, a new bridge over the Rio Grande was christened this week between Reynosa, Tamaulipas, and Mission, Texas. Estimated to cost in the ballpark of $100 million, the Mexican-built structure will connect traffic from hundreds of maquiladora plants to destinations in the US. Opened for light traffic last month, the new Anzalduas Bridge is expected to begin handling heavier commerical trucks by 2012.
In a ceremony attended by hundreds of elected and appointed officials from both sides of the border, Mexican President Felipe Calderon praised the long bridge as an example of the ties that bind a capital-intensive United States and a labor-intensive Mexico. “Our economies are desgined to complement one another,” Calderon said.
The dominant role of private capital in the construction and operation of the Anzalduas Bridge distinguishes it from similar border crossings. Mexico City’s Mahrnos development company was awarded a 30-year concession from the Mexican federal government to build and operate the bridge. Financing for the bridge came from from Mahrnos’ own investment as well as a loan from the Monterrey-based Banorte bank, which became a partner in the project.
The Anzalduas Bridge project has not been without controversy. For example, former construction workers including Jorge Guerrero and Manuel Mendiela charged late last year that Mahrnos had not made adequate severance payments to laid-off laborers. According to the workers, the severances amounted to only about $500 for nearly two years of work. Mahrnos representatives Laura Cortez Hernandez and Alejandro Penafiel declined to answer Mexican reporters’ questions about the payments, and reportedly tossed journalists out of company offices.
Officials present at the January inauguration ceremony for the northern border’s new bridge included Mexican Foreign Minister Patricia Espinosa, US Trade Representative Ron Kirk and Texas Congressman Henry Cuellar, among many others. In all, Mexico plans to build seven new bridges to connect the country with its northern neighbor.
Sources: Enlineadirecta.info, January 12, 2010. Article by Carlos Pena Palacio. Agencia Reforma, January 12, 2010. Article by Miguel Dominguez. El Universal, January 12, 2010. Article by David Aguilar Juarez. Presidencia.gob.mx. January 11, 2010. Press release. Milenio.com, January 9, 2010. Metronoticas.com, October 26, 2009. Article by Sofia Rodriguez.