AUSTIN – Hidalgo County officials have  announced more than $78.5 million in pass-through funds for two major Hidalgo County transportation projects that will connect NAFTA truck traffic from the five ports to area industrial zones and to U.S. Highway 281.

Texas Transportation Commission Officials, along with State Senator Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa, Hidalgo County Judge Rene A. Ramirez, County Commissioner Hector “Tito” Palacios and other local transportation leaders say the amount represents Hidalgo County’s portion of more than $300 million in transportation project funds statewide announced today as part of the Pass-Through Financing Program.

Pass-through financing is a tool used by the state to stretch limited highway dollars and to allow local communities to fund the upfront costs of constructing a state highway project. The state reimburses a portion of the project cost to the community over time by paying a fee for each vehicle that drives on the new road.

“My colleagues  in the Texas Legislature and I are proud of the progress we’ve made in securing critical funding for building the physical infrastructure in South Texas. We need to sustain that progress, especially during difficult budget times, so that industry and commerce can continue to thrive in this fast-growing region,” Sen. Hinojosa said. “With strong partnerships between local communities and the Texas Department of Transportation, I am confident that we will do more with limited dollars, we will continue to make investments that greatly benefit our communities for years to come.”

The Texas Transportation Commission selected two projects by the Hidalgo County Regional Mobility Authority worth $78.5 million for pass-through financing.  The funds are leveraging an estimated $400 million in local revenue that will be used toward building major components of the proposed Trade Corridor Connector (TCC) and the International Bridge Trade Corridor (IBTC).

“These historic investments for South Texas will yield a positive economic impact not only for our region, but also for Texas and our nation as commerce moves thru our ports to its final destination in markets across the country,” said Judge Ramirez.  “Our county is well-positioned to compete and help the Texas economy to recover.”

“I want to thank the Commission and county’s legislative delegation for their support and for making these important investments in our County,” said Commissioner Palacios.  “These dollars will go a long way towards helping us complete major road projects in our county that keep commerce moving and families safe once heavy truck traffic is routed away from neighborhoods.”

The following projects were selected:

·The Trade Corridor Connector (SH 365) or west corridor project was approved for $70 million to provide a route for traffic carrying shipments to move safely between the Pharr, Hidalgo and Anzalduas bridges and local freight facilities to area industrial sites, foreign trade zones, and up the U.S. Highway 281corridor.  The project includes13.38 miles of improvements from FM 1016 to FM 3072.

· The U.S. 281 (Military Road) project was approved for $8.5 million to improve access to the Pharr Bridge by building an inspection facility and a rural overpass over the connection of the facility and the IBTC or east corridor. The project site is east of SP 600 to FM 2557 (Stewart Road).

The Hidalgo County RMA is developing these trade corridor projects as part of its mission to address the long-term mobility needs of the county.  More details on the pass-through financing program can be found at www.txdot.state.tx.us.