HARLINGEN — After years of planning, officials will build the city’s $5 million transit center and bus terminal at the site of the old Cameron County Precinct 4 warehouse just off Interstate 69.
This week, officials expect to close on the sale of the property at 201 N. T St., City Manager Dan Serna said yesterday.
“It’s a strategic position for us,” Ron Garza, executive director of the Lower Rio Grande Valley Development Council, said.
The city’s share of the property’s sale price is $291,000, spokeswoman Irma Garza stated.
As part of an agreement, the city has earmarked $1 million while the Harlingen-San Benito Metropolitan Planning Organization has set aside $4 million to help fund the overall project, Assistant City Manager Gabriel Gonzalez said.
However, Gonzalez declined to disclose funding sources.
For more than a year, officials have been testing the site.
“I guess you can call it somewhat of a pilot,” Garza said.
In March 2018, the agency turned the site into a makeshift hub for its Valley Metro buses.
“We wanted to check the accessibility of that location and it’s worked out great for us,” Garza said. “It’s proven very beneficial for us.”
For more than two years, officials searched for about a two-acre site for the transit center to feature a bus terminal with bays to serve as a hub for Valley Metro and other bus lines.
“We wanted access to major arterials so buses could access Interstate 69 and Interstate 2 and major arterials in town and acreage to make sure we had enough land for several bus bays to be constructed,” Gonzalez said.
At the site of the county’s old warehouse, the makeshift terminal has served as Harlingen’s center for Valley Metro’s Red Line, whose routes connect Brownsville and McAllen.
“We run at least eight routes and use it as a hub,” Garza said. “There’s a lot of accessibility in terms of off-highway and the way it connects with the routes. It’s been very efficient for us.”
For Valley Metro, the transit center could serve as a hub in northern Cameron County.
In 2017, the city’s updated 10-year comprehensive plan ranked the transit center as No. 13 on its priority list.
Officials are counting on the transit center to help transform area transportation.
For decades, Valley Transit Co.’s station has served as the city’s bus center at 215 East Monroe Ave.
Meanwhile, residents have boarded buses bound for stops in the United States and Mexico outside a Stripes convenience store on Tyler Avenue near the Interstate 69 interchange.
Officials plan to develop the terminal into a regional hub.
Around the transit center, restaurants and retail shops are expected to open.
As part of the plan, the city will rent space in the terminal to fund the center’s operating costs, which the city will cover.
Plans include renting space to bus companies and businesses such as fast-food restaurants and retail shops.
In Brownsville and McAllen, restaurants and retail businesses have opened in and around transit centers there.
Inside the terminal, customers could buy tickets to board buses operated by such companies as Valley Metro, Valley Transit Co. and Greyhound.
Some companies such as Adame, Tornado and El Expreso might offer service into Mexico.
For Valley Metro, the transit center could also lead to expanded service.
The transit center would include:
Valley Transit Co.