Progreso International Bridge Director Marga Lopez recently announced the ribbon cutting of the Pedestrian Inspection Lobby.
“We have been busy during this pandemic; we took advantage of this slower than normal time to remodel and double the size of the pedestrian processing area,” said Lopez
The expansion provides U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) the much-needed additional capacity to process the 1.2 million visitors that cross the U.S./Mexico border through Progreso/Nuevo Progreso every year. Nuevo Progreso, Tamaulipas was designated one of the top spots for medical tourism in the Annual Medical Tourism Congress in Cozumel.
The new addition includes six inspection stations with the latest technology of facial recognition software that will speed up the process.
“We wanted to provide our visitors with a state-of-the-art facility that resembles more an airport facility at major hubs like Houston or Dallas. Coordinating with U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) and CBP, we made some major improvements to the entrances, restrooms and the inspection booths,” added Lopez.
Walking through the facilities, tourists will find ceiling mounted televisions providing information, Saltillo tile flooring and artistic tile accents on the walls.
The facility’s upgrade to six pedestrian lanes will allow for the facilitation of travelers with valid Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI) documents to include a passport issued by the U.S. government, a passport card, a valid trusted traveler program card (FAST, NEXUS, or SENTRI) or an Enhanced state Driver's License (EDL) through the Ready Lanes. Separate processing lines will still be available for those with driver’s licenses and/or birth certificates.
“I am excited with the improvements made to the pedestrian walkway; it’s more spacious and will allow for us to continue to utilize state-of-the-art technology to speed up the verification process for our travelers,” said Walter W. Weaver, Progreso Port of Entry, Port Director. “The Port of Progreso processed over 1.2 million travelers last year and we expect to see continual growth in the years to come.”
Bridge Consultant, Ernesto S. Silva added, “This is phase two of a four-phase bridge expansion. We finished expanding concrete roads for the upcoming commercial expansion and now the pedestrian lobby expansion. We are almost completed installing the utilities to an expanded Import dock and a new Export dock that will be constructed first quarter in 2021. Once we finish with all the improvements this Port of Entry will be a totally new POE, with no commercial traffic on the passenger vehicle bridge, nor in downtown Nuevo Progreso.”
The project, constructed by M-5 Texas Enterprises, was a $500,000 investment by the Progreso Bridge Company. The Bridge Company is one of two privately-owned bridges in the Rio Grande Valley and owned by the Sparks family.
“This project had been discussed for many years and our family wanted to improve the crossing experience for our international tourists. We want all our customers to be happy and spread the word what a great place it is to cross and return from Mexico. We see the new upgrades as a great investment in the business our mother and father founded. We invite everyone to come out and see first-hand what a great facility we have,” Bobby Sparks stated.
The Progreso Bridge Company is a long-time member of the Weslaco Chamber of Commerce. For more information contact the Weslaco Chamber at (956) 968-2102 or visit www.weslaco.com
If you are planning a trip to Progreso, please check these websites for any travel restrictions and guidelines, https://www.dhs.gov/publication/notification-temporary-travel-restrictions-applicable-land-ports-entry-and-ferries, https://home.kpmg/xx/en/home/insights/2020/11/flash-alert-2020-475.html, and https://texasmexicobridges.com/covid-19-updates/.
Photo: Ribbon Cutting Pictured (L to R) Jorge Galvan, Erika Flores, Bobby Sparks, Judy Sparks, John Sparks, Ruth Sparks, Elizabeth Johnson, Karen Guenther, Mark Guenther, Marga Lopez, Ernesto Silva, Walter Weaver