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Bill: HCR 164

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SHANEA

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Bill: HCR 164
« on: April 30, 2007, 08:15:53 PM »
http://www.capitol.state.tx.us/BillLookup/History.aspx?LegSess=80R&Bill=HCR164
http://www.capitol.state.tx.us/tlodocs/80R/billtext/html/HC00164I.htm
http://www.capitol.state.tx.us/tlodocs/80R/billtext/html/HC00164H.htm

Won't be long now.    


Quote
80R13038 CLE-F
 
  By: Gallego H.C.R. No. 164
 
 Substitute the following for H.C.R. No. 164:
 
  By:  Krusee C.S.H.C.R. No. 164
 
 HOUSE CONCURRENT RESOLUTION
        WHEREAS, In 1962, Pub. L. No. 87-525 authorized the  
 construction of an international bridge across the Rio Grande to  
 join Heath Canyon in Texas with the village of La Linda, Coahuila,  
 Mexico, for the purpose of transporting refined ore into the United  
 States from nearby mills in Mexico and to one day facilitate the  
 movement of tourists interested in visiting the Sierra del Carmen  
 mountain areas across from Big Bend National Park; and
        WHEREAS, Since the bridge was constructed, the Texas  
 Department of Transportation has, without interruption, maintained  
 Farm-to-Market Road 2627 as a paved two-lane highway for a 28-mile  
 stretch connecting the bridge to United States Highway 385, which  
 leads from that junction southward to Big Bend National Park and  
 northward 40 miles to Marathon and United States Highway 90; and
        WHEREAS, La Linda Bridge, also known as the Hallie Stillwell  
 Memorial Bridge, is still in place and is in good repair but cannot  
 be crossed by vehicles or pedestrians because of barriers and the  
 placement of "no trespassing" signs at the bridge since 1997  
 pursuant to orders issued by the governments of the United States of  
 America and the United Mexican States; and
        WHEREAS, The La Linda international crossing is the only  
 bridge structure in place and the only point of entry authorized by  
 public law between the United States ports of entry at Presidio and  
 Del Rio, a distance of 385 miles; and
        WHEREAS, The owners of the United States section of the  
 international bridge at La Linda wish the bridge to be reopened and  
 operated as a legal border crossing; and
        WHEREAS, Local residents, wildlife and conservation groups,  
 outfitters, guides, and hospitality providers who recognize the  
 unique attractions of the Big Bend-Maderas del Carmen mountain  
 desert corridor
wish to see the planned growth of a  
 conservation-minded tourism economy but are unable to proceed if  
 the La Linda crossing is not functioning; and
        WHEREAS, The safety of tourists wishing to enjoy the area,  
 the binational scientific cooperation called for under existing  
 international agreements, and the security and public safety of  
 communities and citizens on both sides of the international border  
 would be enhanced by a functioning border crossing at La Linda; and
        WHEREAS, Over the past six years the State of Coahuila and the  
 Commissioners Court of Brewster County, represented by the Big Bend  
 Border Council and joined by a coalition of local residents and the  
 Big Bend National Park Superintendent, have repeatedly requested  
 that the United States Department of State and the Mexican  
 Secretaria de Relaciones Exteriores take the necessary actions to  
 have the bridge and border crossing at La Linda reopened by the  
 United States and Mexican federal governments; and
        WHEREAS, The Binational Bridges and Border Crossings working  
 group, composed of United States and Mexican federal authorities  
 responsible for authorizing international ports of entry and  
 required inspections along the international boundary, is convened  
 semiannually by the United States Department of State and the  
 Mexican Secretaria de Relaciones Exteriores and will meet in the  
 coming months to consider action on either reopening the bridge at  
 La Linda or ordering its removal; and
        WHEREAS, In furtherance of meeting preconditions for  
 reopening the bridge set forth by the United States Department of  
 State, an agreement on consolidation of ownership into a single  
 entity with the capacity to maintain and operate an international  
 bridge has been reached between the owners of the United States  
 section of the bridge; and

        WHEREAS, It is in the economic, cultural, and security  
 interests of the State of Texas and the homeland security interest  
 of the United States of America to have a functioning  
 border-crossing station under the management and control of trained  
 and equipped law enforcement and public safety officials in the  
 extensive area known as the Big Bend; now, therefore, be it
        RESOLVED, That the 80th Legislature of the State of Texas  
 hereby express its support and encouragement for the reopening of  
 the bridge and border crossing at La Linda to accommodate trade and  
 tourism between Texas and Coahuila, Mexico, and to better protect  
 residents of both countries and secure the protection of our nation  
 from threats that might be associated with the illegal crossing of  
 individuals or materials with a lethal intent; and, be it further
        RESOLVED, That the legislature hereby urge the governor and  
 the Texas Economic Development and Tourism Office, the Texas  
 Department of Transportation, the Parks and Wildlife Department,  
 the secretary of state, the Department of Public Safety, the  
 General Land Office, the Texas Historical Commission, and other  
 appropriate state agencies to render encouragement and assistance  
 to Brewster County and the owners of the La Linda bridge in their  
 efforts to reopen the bridge and to assume a role as a stakeholder  
 in planning cooperative conservation and tourism initiatives  
 across the Big Bend-Maderas del Carmen area; and, be it further
        RESOLVED, That the legislature hereby urge representatives  
 of the Parks and Wildlife Department and the Texas Department of  
 Transportation to meet at the earliest possible time with  
 representatives of the owners of the United States section of the La  
 Linda bridge, of Brewster County, and of Big Bend National Park to  
 review the status of the bridge and, as they may deem appropriate,  
 recommend formation of an ad hoc liaison committee to offer advice  
 and facilitation to Brewster County and the owners of the La Linda  
 bridge on the future of the bridge and plans for cross-border  
 tourism and conservation; and, be it further
        RESOLVED, That the legislature hereby call upon the United  
 States Department of State to communicate the interest of the State  
 of Texas in this matter to the government of the United Mexican  
 States and to all other parties participating in decisions relating  
 to either reopening or removing the bridge at La Linda; and, be it  
 further
        RESOLVED, That the Texas secretary of state forward official  
 copies of this resolution to all the members of the Texas delegation  
 to the United States Congress and to the United States secretary of  
 state and the Secretaria de Relaciones Exteriores, United Mexican  
 States.

:D  :D

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BigBendHiker

  • Guest
Bill: HCR 164
« Reply #1 on: April 30, 2007, 08:23:09 PM »
Thanks, Shanea!

This is good news.  That bridge really does need to re-open.  Hopefully, this will happen.  (about time, I might add...).


BBH

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SHANEA

  • Guest
Wish
« Reply #2 on: April 30, 2007, 10:14:13 PM »
Wish I could share in your optimism BBH, but Gallego introduces that every time around.   I think it's just a matter of "routine" - showing the constituants he is doing something.  Alas, I fear one night the bridge will disappear like balancing rock did at EROCK long ago - kaboom!  And that will end the La Linda bridge controversy once and for all.     It will then become the La Linda conspiracy with the man on the grassy bank.

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BigBendHiker

  • Guest
Re: Wish
« Reply #3 on: May 01, 2007, 06:46:07 AM »
Quote from: "SHANEA"
Alas, I fear one night the bridge will disappear like balancing rock did at EROCK long ago - kaboom!  And that will end the La Linda bridge controversy once and for all.


Indeed.  We need to get out and see that bridge.  My wife and I had a chance to see Balancing Rock (before it's untimely demise) back in the early 1980's.  The WildTexas.com website has a thread (from last week) on Balancing Rock; I weighed in on the discussion as well...

http://www.wildtexas.com/talk/showthread.php?t=93&highlight=balancing


BBH

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SHANEA

  • Guest
Update... 5-10 years....
« Reply #4 on: June 06, 2007, 10:46:12 PM »
http://www.marfatx.com/uploadedfiles/lindabridge53107.html

Quote
Group seeks to reopen border bridge
By MEGAN WILDE

FAR WEST TEXAS – While the Department of Homeland Security plans border barriers, a local group is working to reopen La Linda international bridge east of Big Bend National Park.

For more than six years, a coalition of Brewster County and Coahuila residents and non-profits has been trying to restore the single-lane La Linda bridge, which was barricaded in 1997. The coalition sees the crossing as the lynchpin for a cross-border tourism economy between Big Bend National Park and adjacent protected natural areas in Mexico’s Sierra del Carmen.

Last week the Texas legislature passed a resolution encouraging the U.S. Department of State to return the bridge to service. Armed with the state’s support, the local coalition plans to discuss the bridge at an upcoming meeting with the national authorities who sanction ports of entry.

The coalition argues La Linda is uniquely situated to be reopened. Congress approved the bridge’s construction in 1962, making it the only federally authorized bridge along the 385-mile stretch between Presidio and Del Rio. Unlike the area’s other informal border crossings, which were closed after September 11, La Linda was an official port of entry for decades, used primarily by chemical companies transporting fluorspar from Coahuila mines to the railroad in Marathon.

Having served as a port of entry before, the bridge is the most practical place for tourists to cross between Big Bend and the Mexican nature preserves, according to Ty Fain, president of Marathon’s Rio Grande Institute and a leader of the local coalition.

“To get there from Presidio or Del Rio,” he said, “that’s not practical.”

Fain believes opening La Linda would allow a nature-tourism economy to grow on both sides of the Rio Grande.

“If Mexico can put national parks and recreational areas over there, building an economy like we have in the Big Bend area, it’ll be good for them and it’ll be good for us,” Fain said. “But that’s not going to happen if they remain in total isolation.”

While the state resolution is a step forward for Fain’s group, there’s still a way to go to connect the Chihuahuan desert natural areas.

“I think [the resolution] was probably a good thing to do, but the final decision is going to be up to Homeland Security and Customs and Immigration,” said Big Bend National Park Superintendent William Wellman. “And I’m not sure how much influence it will have.”

It was U.S. Customs that closed La Linda crossing in 1997. When Mexican fluorspar mines became unprofitable, the bridge fell into disuse, and U.S. and Mexican customs authorities began viewing it as a drug smuggling corridor. After a Mexican official was killed there, Customs ordered the bridge’s closure, and the U.S. Coast Guard then called for the idle structure’s demolition.

Faced with the bridge’s destruction, Brewster County officials asked Fain and area rancher Kay Love to help preserve the link between Big Bend and Coahuila. Fain and Love succeeded in staving off the bridge’s demolition, but reopening the crossing has proven to be more challenging.

“It’s a long, long process,” Fain said.

The state legislature has passed a resolution supporting La Linda’s restoration before. Both authored by state Representative Pete Gallego, the 2003 resolution is very similar to the resolution passed last week. The earlier resolution differs in its mention of the General Land Office as a potential bridge owner, but Fain said the state agency has since changed its mind about taking possession.

Sorting out the bridge’s ownership has been one of the biggest hurdles for the local coalition. A few years ago Fain was given a Department of State roadmap with 16 requirements for reopening La Linda. Among them was consolidating ownership of the bridge.

“That’s what we’re working on now,” Fain said.

The Mexican half of the bridge is owned by the Mexican government. And while Mexico is ready to run its half, “it takes two to run an international bridge,” he said.

Ownership of the U.S. half has changed hands many times over the past several years. A partnership between Fain’s institute and Mexican non-profit Museo Maderas del Carmen, headed by Alberto Garza, is currently in negotiations to purchase the U.S. side of the bridge from its current owners, Andy and Judy Kurie.

“My Mexican partner is real interested in nature tourism,” Fain said. “He’s got the money to make this happen, and I’ve still got a little energy left.”

Eventually Fain would like Texas to own the U.S. side of the bridge. “The state has showed no interest so far though and neither has the county,” he said. “But we’ll take it and get it opened and run it, and demonstrate this can really become a useful asset for tourism.”

With a new state resolution in hand and the bridge’s ownership settled, Fain hopes to present a plan for operating La Linda crossing at the U.S.-Mexico Binational Bridges and Border Crossings Group meeting later this year. He met with the group a few years ago and feels a lot has been accomplished since then.

“The last time we went through that process, they gave us 16 hoops to jump through, and this time I think we’ll be down to about half a dozen,” he said.

Fain also feels increasingly hopeful about Mexico’s efforts to build eco-tourism in the region.

“The Mexican government is in the process of creating a Mexican equivalent of the Wild and Scenic River on the Rio Grande,” he said. “That’s another indication that they’re buying into a tourism-based economy, and that’s good news.”

In Big Bend, superintendent Wellman believes linking the American and Mexican natural areas would be very good for the national park and the Rio Grande. While he understands why Customs closed the region’s border crossings, losing that connection has been tough for both countries, he said.


He agrees La Linda is the best place to reopen, because it might support enough traffic for customs to justify a staffed port of entry. But he’s guardedly hopeful about when customs will make that decision.

“I have some hope that in the future, in another five or 10 years, maybe conditions will change enough so that we can go back to something that would allow people limited access here,” he said. “But I don’t see that happening any time soon.”

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SHANEA

  • Guest
Related Notes...
« Reply #5 on: June 06, 2007, 10:47:13 PM »
See MS Word Attachment for status of all Texas-Mexico bridges...

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Offline rgibson

  • Coyote
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  • 164
Bill: HCR 164
« Reply #6 on: June 07, 2007, 09:02:52 AM »
All the efforts by Rep Gallego and others does have some effect.

Maybe not to get the bridge opened for a while, but to keep  the bridge from being destroyed!

Five or 6 years ago the US Coast Guard was within 30 days of demolition of the La Linda Bridge for a cost of more than the original construction.

Yeah, that sounds unusual for the US Coast Guard many hundreds of miles from the coast, but it seems they are also in charge of any International Bridges.

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Offline homerboy2u

  • The Chipewa Cris tribe,Canada:
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Bill: HCR 164
« Reply #7 on: June 07, 2007, 09:13:20 AM »
Hmmm...and overe here, among the 4x4 clubs, we still have high hopes to see it reopen once again.  :cry:
Stay thirsty, my friends.

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SHANEA

  • Guest
Actually....
« Reply #8 on: June 07, 2007, 10:55:11 AM »
Quote from: "rgibson"
Yeah, that sounds unusual for the US Coast Guard many hundreds of miles from the coast, but it seems they are also in charge of any International Bridges.


Actually, the US Coast Guard, now a part of the Dept. of Homeland Security I believe, is in charge of all navigable waterways in the USA.  Rio Grande is considered a navigable waterway.  The bridge was viewed as a henderance to navigation as it was no longer being used.  Speaking of the Dept. of Homeland security, my suitcase was "seized" yesterday at IAH for "special inspection" and I didn't get it until early this morning.  The bag missed several followup flights yesterday out of IAH to Indy....

 


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