Los Indios inspection station finally moving ahead

LOS INDIOS — Construction of the long-delayed state truck inspection station at the Free Trade International Bridge at Los Indios is once again moving forward.

The $6.9 million inspection facility will ensure commercial trucks coming out of Mexico meet U.S. vehicle safety standards. The BSIF will replace an older Texas Department of Public Safety facility located nearby.

“We’re looking to finalize the construction of that product,” Pete Alvarez, TxDOT district engineer in the Pharr district, said last week. “There were a couple of hiccups along the way and they’re trying to resolve those issues.”

Those “hiccups” Alvarez referred to involved a maze of bureaucratic overlap, bringing the Cameron County Commissioners Court, TxDOT, the state Department of Public Safety and the federal General Services Administration together in an effort to untangle land rights issues to move the project forward.

Initial construction began in February 2015 and the project was estimated to be finished in 13 months. But the access issue wasn’t resolved until Cameron County donated a small parcel of land which amounted to less than one acre.

The little parcel will enable commercial traffic to move from an existing federal facility to the new state inspection facility, called the Border Security Inspection Station.

Critical problems

The best years of the current border inspection station, located a half-mile up the road on FM 509, are very much behind it.

At present the facility has two roofed, open-walled structures often referred to as a “hay shed” style which are high enough to allow 18-wheelers under the roof so inspections can be performed out of the rain.

The larger of the two, capable of holding a pair of big rigs simultaneously, was temporarily shut down about 18 months ago due to concerns about its structural integrity.

That inspection bay has reopened, but the second one, which unfortunately also sits over the modular building which houses the offices of the truck inspectors, has been condemned.

Yellow security tape has been strung every which-way under the structure, creating a maze-like labyrinth which both inspectors and visitors must negotiate.

Hope on horizon

Construction at the new inspection facility has been stuck at about three-quarters complete since work was suspended in 2016.

The project will add two massive “hay shed” structures which already are in place. Concrete, curbs and drainage already are in place and Alvarez is optimistic the contractor will be able to finish the job quickly.

“Obviously, it will be a couple of months before we can finalize that contract,” he said. “We’re working with the contractor to get them re-mobilized if you will to complete the project. I don’t have an update as to when the actual structure will be completed.”

BSIF at Los Indios

COST — $6.9 million

CONTRACTOR — Foremost Paving Inc.

PROJECT LENGTH — .001 miles

WORK BEGAN — February 2015

DESCRIPTION — The project consists of the construction of a Border Safety Inspection Facility and includes drainage structure, lime treatment, subgrade, flexible base, asphaltic concrete pavement, reinforced concrete pavement, signage and pavement markings and striping.