Officials hope to market Free Trade Bridge

LOS INDIOS — Nearly 24 years after it opened, area leaders still are working to boost toll revenues at the Free Trade Bridge.

Officials with CameronCounty, Harlingen and San Benito — the bridge’s three partners — are trying to drive up truck traffic at the span once dubbed “the bridge to nowhere.”

Now, officials are trying to build a cold storage facility to draw produce trucks to the bridge.

Meanwhile, they will request Tamaulipas officials market the bridge in Mexico, County Judge Pete Sepulveda said.

On Nov. 1, 1992, the $40 million bridge opened, marking the signing of the North American Free Trade Agreement.

As part of an agreement, the cities of Harlingen and San Benito each fund a fourth of the bridge’s operating costs, while CameronCounty pays the remainder.

For many in Harlingen and San Benito, the bridge was a dream come true.

“City leaders in San Benito and Harlingen worked for 50 years to get that bridge built,” Harlingen Mayor Chris Boswell said.

But nearly a quarter of a century after it opened, the bridge remains drastically underutilized, continuing to generate significantly lower toll revenues than Cameron County’s two other bridges — Veterans International Bridge and Gateway International Bridge.

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