Saturday, May 7, 2011

World Trade bridge expansion: City looking over its shoulder at hungry McAllen

Laredo,s World Trade bridge expands to 15 lanes

Despite constantly denying that McAllen could ever offer any real competition to Laredo as an inland port, Mayor Salinas and city manager Carlos Villarreal were among those celebrating the addition of 7 new lanes at the World Trade Bridge. Just last year, The Mayor, Villarreal and city councilman Mike Garza took offense to charges that McAllen was poising itself to eat Laredo's tourism and trade lunch. They cited bridge crossings as evidence that Laredo should not worry about our valley counterparts. However, sales were then flat both downtown and at Mall Del Norte. The problem was that maybe people were crossing here, but going elsewhere to spend their time and money.

One things for sure, the Mayor's complacency confidence has not been shaken.  While Salinas is quoted as saying “This is a huge day“. (To) the other places that are trying to compete with Laredo: You ain’t seen nothing yet" today's Laredo Morning Times  noted that not everyone shares the Mayor's blind bravado. From today's LMT:

Laredo is the busiest inland port in the U.S., but competition from other South Texas communities, such as McAllen, was clearly on the minds of Laredo officials at the ceremony.
Also: Cuellar counseled the city to not rest on its laurels as the largest inland port but aggressively pursue those funds from state and federal governments. “Laredo has depended on geography in the past,” he said. “We cannot depend on that anymore.

Even a local broker showed concern: Lupita Canales, president of A.R. Canales International Brokers, said some of her customers have talked about moving their imports to inland ports in the Rio Grande Valley because of wait times. “They will be very happy to hear that our merchandise is going to be expedited and moving a lot quicker than before,” she said.

I think it's about time that the Mayor and the city manager start to at least recognize that Laredo's position in the tourism/trade world is not something to be taken for granted. Actually, it doesn't make sense for them to always act so over-confident. Wouldn't Salinas and Villarreal have a better chance of getting more big bucks from Washington if they show a modicum of concern? But then again, that makes too much sense. Let's remember, Laredo has not added a new bridge in a long time. That distinction presently belongs to the valley.

On Monday January 11, 2010 a ceremony was held commemorating the opening of the AnzaldĂșa International Bridge.  This bridge connects the city of Mission Texas with the western edge of the city of Reynosa Tamaulipas on the Mexican side.  The AnzaldĂșa bridge inauguration is the first new land port of entry in a 10 year lapse as the last one was inaugurated in the year 2000 between Laredo and Nuevo Laredo. 

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