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Wednesday, December 09, 2015

Preface to notes on Presidio International Port Authority Meeting, 12/8/2015

Thanks for your interest in the Port (bridge and rail bridge) expansion projects proposed and/or underway in Presidio.
I have missed the last several meetings of PIPA, so am a bit out of the loop, but before I submit my notes, I'll give a quick overview of a couple of topics pertinent to the situation.

The PIPA was formed about 9 months ago as a partnership between the City of Presidio and Presidio County to help facilitate the auto/truck/pedestrian bridge expansion at Presidio/Ojinaga. Years in the making, the effort to improve the bridge through expansion and other upgrades is about to pay off. Like many other things, the path has been long and the road to success is tricky. The primary stated goal of bridge expansion has been to improve border commerce on the commercial (trucking) side of things first and foremost. The auxiliary purpose is to lessen wait times for tourists and shoppers. Increased quality and efficiency of security are another focus.

Negotiations between two countries, their governmental agencies, regulations,  their cultures of doing business and everything that goes with all that make any progress tricky and also somewhat fragile. PIPA has been a step in the right direction, in my opinion, to increase communication and show solidarity on the part of the County and City in favor of port improvements.

Without going into a long dissertation that I am not even qualified to write, given my knowledge level of the extensive complexity of what has occurred on this project over the last 7-10 years, I will try to explain where it is now.
The Texas Dept of Transportation, who is the owner of the current bridge, has, after a long while of not expressing much interest, decided that they want to be the agency that owns, operates, and maintains the  bridge. Prior to this revelation, the County was going to build, operate and maintain a toll bridge next to the existing bridge. Now that TXDOT will be operating it, there will be no toll and PIPA's role is transforming more into an advocacy group to maximize local input towards the outcome of the project, especially operations-wise with regard to commercial trade, port inspection hours, and the like.

Referenced in the notes from the meeting yesterday is a CBP program referred to as "559" that allows for public/private port of entry development projects and for certain reimbursements of expenses under Section 559 of the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2014. PIPA is looking to participate in this program in order to achieve goals of increased port commercial inspection hours and/or staffing.

The government web page that describes this program can be viewed here.www.cbp.gov/border-security/ports-entry/resource-opt-strategy/public-private-partnerships

Other than that, I'd like to issue a reminder that my accounts of any meetings I take notes at for this blog are subject to my not so great hearing (rock and roll- it was totally worth it, by the way), my possible lack of knowledge on last names, spellings of names, etc, and the fact that I do not re-write or revise my live notes later. Comments by readers are always welcome and will be posted whether I agree with them or not. Comments may not be anonymous, however, as this journal is not anonymous.

Thanks again for reading- please be involved in the governmental process!
DB

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