Enhancing Border Crossing - South Texas Alliance for Regional Trade

Jul 21, 2014

Laredo Bridge Construction

The General Services Administration (GSA) announced earlier this year the designation of $61.6 million under the FY 2014 budget to upgrade facilities at Laredo’s Bridge of the Americas (aka Bridge 1) and the Lincoln/Juarez Bridge (aka Bridge 2). This last week, at a meeting of stakeholders, the agency added that construction is expected to begin in the fall of this year with anticipated completion during 2017.

The project has been designed to enhance and modernize the two ports of entry significantly easing pedestrian and vehicle traffic. Likewise, while improving the functionality of the facilities the intent is also to support the U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s mission to keep America’s borders safe and secure.

Specific projects to take place are:
  • Upgrading of pedestrian processing area at Bridge 1
  • Construction of bus terminal/passenger processing area at Bridge 2

Beginning in early 2015, northbound vehicular traffic at Laredo Bridge 1 will be rerouted to Laredo 2. The temporary rerouting is expected to last for approximately 16 months. Pedestrian, bicyclist as well as southbound vehicle traffic at Laredo 1 will remain in place.

Some upcoming challenges that will arise as a result of the construction and for which the community needs to prepare for include:
  • Construction (simultaneous on both bridges) is set to start in mid January 2015. There is no “good” time to schedule construction, but GSA has scheduled the starting date after the Christmas Holidays (and the return of Paisanos)
  • Construction will last 16 months (this will carry us into seasons when traffic volume peaks – “Semana Santa 2015, summer vacations 2015, Christmas 2015, and into 2016)
  • Construction on Bridge 1 will require the closing of the two (2) northbound lanes on Bridge 1. There will be no car traffic heading into the U.S. on Bridge 1 during construction period. The southbound lanes will remain open.
  • Pedestrian and bicycle traffic will continue to cross over Bridge 1. Temporary facilities will be prepared to process these.
  • Bridge 2 will open four processing lanes for cars in the parking lot under the bridge, to divert some traffic. This will help compensate the closing of the two lanes on Bridge 1.
  • Once construction is complete, buses will be using the interior lane of the bridge, since the new terminal will be accessed on that side. This will require rerouting of buses as they enter on the Mexican side of the bridge.

Representatives of Mexican Customs and Immigration, as well as the Mexican Consul General, present during the announcement agreed with GSA and CBP that the project will require constant communication and collaboration between both cities and federal agencies. They stressed the importance of keeping the community — local and at the national level — informed with advanced media notices. Signage on approach to the bridges on the Mexican side will play a major role, they agreed.

Some current information regarding Laredo’s bridges:
  • Laredo is the point of crossing for the largest volume of buses in the U.S. Over 40,000 buses cross over Bridge 2 annually. The next two crossing points (San Diego and El Paso) together don’t measure up to this amount.
  • Laredo is now the 4th major pedestrian point of crossing in the country.