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DONNA - A long-overdue expansion of the Donna-Rio Bravo International Bridge breaks ground for its southbound port of entry lane Wednesday, Oct. 16

An in-the-works project for nearly two decades, began construction Sept. 16 but had its groundbreaking ceremony a month later. The ceremony was for the southbound lane that will serve commercial trucks. The international bridge opened in December 2010 allowing passenger vehicles between U.S. and Mexico to shop and reside for revenue purposes. The new lanes (northbound to be constructed after southbound is complete) will serve commercial vehicles efficiently for two reasons.

“One of the unique features about this project is that it is going to be a model project,” said Carlos Yerena, Donna city manager. “A lot of bridges here placed in border regions have different technologies that help us expedite crossings. This bridge will have two unique features: 1) dual inspections meaning the U.S. and Mexico customs are going to inspect the U.S side. The joint inspection will significantly expedite the crossings and wait time and 2) two x-ray machines will allow us to inspect trucks at a rate of a hundred trucks per hour.”

The model project for both lanes and new technology is a total of $60 million in which the City of Donna received $25 million for funding.

Donna mayor, Rick Morales shared the long-overdue expansion project almost two decades ago.

“I remember we started this venture back in 2001,” said Donna mayor, Rick Morales. “There were four commissioners and myself who went up to Washington and they didn’t believe this was going to be a valuable project anytime soon until the next twenty-five to thirty years and here we are eighteen years later doing a groundbreaking for commercial trucks.”

As of now, the port of entry is available for passenger vehicles only, but with the new commercial lanes in place, it will serve as “a tremendous windfall for the City of Donna and generations to come,” said Morales.

The southbound lane is expected to be completed in April 2020 and several more projects are in the works for the City of Donna.

Donna city leaders, Donna ISD, Rio Bravo representatives, CBP officials, bridge board members amongst others were also present at the groundbreaking ceremony.