Fresh produce imports are predicted to double over the coming years as a result of the new superhighway connecting Tamaulipas to Sinaloa.
The opening of the new bridge connecting Mexico and South Texas through a more direct route has local economic development leaders reaching out to state and federal government for investment in infrastructure. With the projected increase in trucking traffic and warehouse activity, the city will require funds fortify city roads and other related expenses. City officials also demand more Department of Agriculture produce inspectors.
“We see a tsunami coming. It is going to be more freight, more produce, more jobs, folds trying to get back and forth to work and also more rooftops,” said Fred Sandoval, Pharr City Manager.
The Pharr International Bridge handles most fresh produce coming to the Rio Grande Valley from the south. Trucking companies have come forth stating their plans to transport more fruits and vegetables through the Pharr Bridge and new superhighway rather than Arizona. Traveling through the Rio Grande Valley is more cost-effective both short and long term. Measures to cope with increased traffic from the new Mazatlan to Matamoros superhighway are currently underway.
“We have had folks come to our produce park to tell us they are going to transfer the bulk of their business from Nogales to Pharr. Some are already under contract to buy lots from us in the produce park,” Sandoval said.
Number crunching on behalf of city leaders revealed interesting information. One shipping company running 7,000 trucks per season has 75 percent of those trucks traveling to the east coast. During a four-month seasons, that means around 4,000 to 5,000 more trucks traveling through Pharr. If multiple shipping companies of that size, or smaller, begin using the new superhighway, Pharr will experience a boom in business.
According to Sandoval, “…truckers are saving $1,500, $1.800, $2,500 a trip. You multiply that by four thousand or five thousand trips and it all adds up to a lot of money.” Travel time between Pharr and Dallas is a third of the three days it takes to travel from Nogales to Dallas, a highly attractive aspect for shipping companies.
Shorter and speedier transportation times allow for fresher produce to be distributed.
“Shippers will be able to get the fruits and vegetables to the markets on the east coast quicker,” Sandoval said. “That means they have two or three more days on the shelf. The produce becomes more viable. It sells better, it is fresher…There are so many facets to this that are positive for us.”
Local officials are currently working with Tamaulipas to improve stretches of road near the Pharr International Bridge. Further investments are set to alleviate congestion of commercial truck traffic and regular vehicle traffic. Sandoval recognizes the Rio Grande Valley will benefit from the increase in the fresh produce trucking industry.