Chapter 2: Specialized Application and Approval Activities

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Section 1: State International Bridge Application Process

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Federal Permit

Federal laws pertaining to the construction, maintenance, and operation of international bridges can be found in 33 United States Code (USC) §535. Congressional consent is granted:

  • for a state, subdivision, or instrumentality thereof to enter into agreements with the Government of Mexico, a Mexican state, or subdivision or instrumentality of either, for the construction of an international bridge between the United States and Mexico and
  • for the collection of tolls for its bridge.

The effectiveness of such an agreement is conditioned on its approval by the U. S. Secretary of State.

Bridges may not be constructed, maintained, and operated unless the President of the United States grants approval. His approval will be supported with advice from the United States Section of the International Boundary and Water Commission, United States and Mexico, and any departments and agencies of the federal government that the President deems appropriate.

The approval of the U. S. Secretary of Transportation is required subsequent to Presidential authorization. Approval is void if construction of the bridge has not begun after two years from final approval or not completed after five years.

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State Approval

Guidance given by 43 Texas Administrative Code (TAC), Chapter 15, Subchapter G and Section 201.612 of the Transportation Code determines the process by which an international bridge may be constructed in Texas. A political subdivision or private entity that desires to construct or finance the construction of a bridge over the Rio Grande must obtain approval from the Texas Transportation Commission for the construction of the bridge before requesting approval from the federal government under 33 USC §535. To obtain approval, the political subdivision or private entity must submit an application and comply with all requirements and conditions in the sections of the TAC noted above.

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State Approval Process

To secure approval of a project, an applicant must file an application and 20 copies with TxDOT Deputy Executive Director, or his or her designee, who shall serve as department liaison for the project. The application shall be in a prescribed form and must contain a description of the applicant, including its form of organization under the laws of the state, and a history of the applicant’s operations and business. It must also include a definition of major financial, operating, and business policies of the applicant that will affect operations or the conduct of business, including key operating conditions and compliance with existing federal, state, and local laws and regulations. The application will also contain a preliminary study of the project in accordance with the guidelines in 43 TAC §15.73.

Finally, the application will contain any written commitments from the appropriate federal jurisdictions of the United Mexican States to provide adequate roadway connections to the bridge and similar commitments from state and municipal transportation agencies for any state highway or local street infrastructure necessary to make the bridge fully operational.

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