Feds see Gateway as priority for modernization
Gateway Bridge International Bridge in downtown Brownsville is in line for a $90 million upgrade aimed at substantially expanding incoming pedestrian and vehicle access.
The original Gateway Bridge opened in 1926 as a steel-arch span. The county bought the facility from the Gateway Bridge Company in 1961, and seven years later started a project to replace the old span with two flat deck spans. The new bridge was dedicated in April 1970.
According to Cameron County Judge Eddie Treviño Jr., no major improvements have been done since then. Gateway Bridge — also known as “the new bridge” even though Veterans International Bridge is newer — is Brownsville’s main international pedestrian crossing.
Treviño said the county began exploring the possibility of expanding pedestrian access at Gateway Bridge about two year ago in order to reduce wait times.
“ We did a visit to El Paso’s ports-of-entry to see how they were addressing it,” he said. “Basically we have one lane of pedestrian access. We wanted to investigate and see what we could do as far as expanding the pedestrian access.”
What county officials found was that El Paso has about 5 million pedestrian crossings a year and four international bridges with pedestrian access to accommodate them, Treviño said. In Brownsville, Gateway Bridge alone sees around 1 million pedestrians a year and has one lane to handle them, he said.
Officials met with Customs and Border Protection and other federal officials, who made an onsite inspection of Gateway Bridge. The scope of the project evolved into modernizing and refurbishing the entire entry point rather than merely improving pedestrian access, Treviño said.
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