By Alicia Neaves
PRESIDIO - History was officially made Tuesday afternoon by the creation of the Presidio International Port Authority, or PIPA, referred to as Presidio's "hottest economical engine."
"It kind of gave me goosebumps when we were up there," Presidio City Council member, Phillip Aguilar, said.
"I'm very ecstatic because this has been needing to have happened a very long time ago, and today, it's finally happened," Presidio County Judge, Cinderela Guevara, said.
"Normally, I've heard of projects just by the City of Presidio or just by the county. Never - in my two and a half years here at least - have I heard of a collaboration on a project," Sergio F. Salinas Meza of the Presidio Mexican Consulate, said.
"This has been like 20 years in the making for us to finally get a toll bridge in Presidio and that's something that most other border cities count on," John Ferguson, Mayor of Presidio, said.
It's a project that's been in the works for two years: A new international bridge connecting Presidio and Ojinaga. The Presidio International Port Authority, made up of city and county leaders, will oversee it.
"We'll be in control of the bridge in terms of maintenance, construction, revenues, expenditures, things like that," Ferguson said.
"We will oversee what toll amount will be charged then we will oversee how it will be divided between the county and the city," Guevara said.
It will be an entirely new bridge constructed for Southbound traffic right next to the existing bridge. A change we will see is a toll booth added to traffic entering Mexico. At the moment, it is free to cross.
"I don't think anybody's necessarily looking forward to paying tolls but what we'll probably look at are ways to reduce the cost for local users," Ferguson said.
Funds for the bridge will not come from taxpayer pockets. Instead, it will be paid for by tolls using the most frugal construction method possible.
The excess revenue will be split between the city and county.
Officials say the current bridge is lacking in service and infrastructure to compete with other border communities. Now, that will change.
"Being more advanced in infrastructure and keeping up with the other ports of entries that are more advanced, more automated, more up-to-date," Guevara said.
"You're gonna see more opportunities for economic growth in Presidio for more cross-border commerce," Ferguson said.
The Presidio International Port Authority will create its bylaws and select its members within the next 90 days.