New Cold Room Inspection Facility at Los Indios Bridge

  • Friday, 24 March 2017 18:24
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The new $500,000 cold storage facility will hold both fresh and frozen produce for shippers as it awaits federal inspection by US Customs and Border Protection officers. The facility will be located within the CBP and General Services Administration installations.

Among the VIPs expected to attend the groundbreaking ceremony are Cameron County Eddie Treviño, Jr., and Cameron county commissioners, Harlingen Mayor Chris Boswell and Harlingen city commissioners, San Benito Mayor Celeste Sanchez and San Benito city commissioners, and leaders from the Los Indios community.

The event takes place at 9:30 a.m. on Friday, March 24. The address is 100 Los Indios Boulevard, Los Indios, Texas. Refreshments will be served after the ceremony.

The Free Trade International Bridge at Los Indios is owned by Cameron County, the City of Harlingen and the City of San Benito. Cameron County owns 50 percent, while Harlingen and San Benito own 25 percent each.

The facility will be built mirroring the current revenue split, according to officials. Harlingen Economic Development Corporation CEO Raudel Garza explained the importance of the cold room inspection facility.

“For several years, Cameron County Judges and their staff have been working with the City of Harlingen, and the City of San Benito along with their respective economic development corporations and the Port of Brownsville to promote the use of the Free Trade International Bridge at Los Indios,” Garza said.

“Under the auspices of the Cameron County Logistics Alliance, the group has traveled to several produce shows, visited with Mexican officials in Mazatlán and have worked with other strategic partners to raise awareness of the asset that is the Free Trade Bridge.

Some of the shortest wait times at any crossing can be found at this bridge.” The significance of visiting Mazatlán, in Sinaloa, is that this is the region that produces much of the fruit and vegetables Mexico exports to the United States.

Currently, a lot of that produce is transported into the U.S. via the Pharr International Bridge. Cameron County leaders believe they can capture some of that business by improving infrastructure at the Los Indios bridge.

“One of the ideas for promoting the bridge was that we needed to accommodate the needs of the growing produce shipping business,” Garza said. “Without any refrigerated space at the Customs inspection dock, it was highly unlikely that a refrigerated truck would want to expose its cargo to the open air, especially in our South Texas summer weather. So, in discussion amongst the group and with federal authorities, the idea to construct refrigerated space at the existing inspection dock was born. On March 24, 2017, that idea begins its journey to reality.”

Garza makes the point that border bridge wait times at Los Indios is much shorter than other bridges in the Rio Grande Valley that handle 18-wheelers.

“Not only will there be two cold rooms with different temperatures to handle the different products, the Los Indios bridge also has USDA inspectors and entomologists on site. This will make it conducive to speed up the inspection process for any truck carrying produce into the United States with probably the shortest wait times along the entire border,” Garza said.

Harlingen Mayor Chris Boswell mentioned the cold room inspection facility in his recent State of the City address. Boswell said: “The Harlingen Economic Development Corporation and the City of Harlingen also continue to strengthen their partnership with the City of San Benito and Cameron County by developing a cold storage inspection facility at the Los Indios Free Trade Bridge.

“This joint project with the stakeholders in the Bridge is being developed to fulfill a need to inspect produce in a climate-controlled environment. Without such a facility, there is no way to encourage and attract trucks carrying produce to cross at the Los Indios Free Trade Bridge.

“We know this is a significant part of the truck traffic market as we have seen at other Ports of Entry in the Valley. As we break ground on the facility, we hope that soon the cold storage inspection facility will enable our partners here in Cameron County to realize more fully the potential of the Los Indios Free Trade Bridge. It also helps us capitalize on new truck traffic being generated by the Mazatlán to Matamoros superhighway.” 

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