The B&M Bridge is jointly owned by the Federal Government of Mexico and the Union Pacific Railroad Company.
The B&M Bridge Company aspires to create superiorvalue for its customers, communities and shareholders by becoming the standard of excellence in the international toll industry, providing safe, convenient, efficient and economical bridge crossing.It intends to grow both in scale and scope by developing andoffering products and services that capitalize on its facilities, financial strength and core competencies, serving industrial customers, commuters, tourists, shoppers, government agencies and other bridge operators.
Appropriate to its resources and capabilities, the company envisions providing bridge management and consulting services, acquisition and construction of new bridges and pursuing other evolving opportunities.
About the Brownsville & Matamoros Express Bridge
The St. Louis, Brownsville, and Mexico Railroad arrived in Brownsville in 1904. The Rio Grande separated the U.S. Railway from the Mexican National Railway Line. Congressman John Nance Garner (1868-1967), later Vice President of the United States, introduced a bill into Congress in 1908 providing for the construction of a bridge spanning the river and connecting the two railways. At that time, only small ferryboats and a pontoon bridge connected the sister cities.
Benjamin F. Yoakum, magnate of the St. Louis, Brownsville and Mexico Railway, signed an
|The B&M Bridge, July 1910. Photograph Courtesy of the Estate of Robert Runyon.|
agreement in 1909 with representatives of the Mexican National Railway, which made the railroads equal partners in the Brownsville & Matamoros Bridge Company.The new company assumed responsibility for operating the bridge. Construction got underway in April 1909 with the Foundation Company of New York building the bridge’s concrete foundations. The Wisconsin Bridge Company erected the steel spans that were riveted into place. This new bridge, the first permanent bridge built across the Rio Grande, was 227 feet long and cost approximately $225,000. The B&M Bridge was designed as a swing bridge to accommodate steamboat traffic on the Rio Grande, but by the time it was completed in July 1910, river traffic had ceased. The bridge was swung open once for inspection in 1910 and has never been opened since, although much of the gearing mechanism is still in place.
When the bridge opened to the public in December 1910, pedestrians, horses, wagons and carriages were invited to pay a toll and use the narrow eighteen-foot wide bridge to cross the Rio Grande. The toll for a foot passenger, with or without baggage, was five cents, although children under seven accompanied by adults crossed free. A horse and rider paid a ten cents toll, the same paid by empty carts and wagons with one draft animal and a driver. Wagons with yokes of oxen paid twenty-five cents each; mules and cattle cost five cents; and sheep and goats were charged two and one-half cents each.
|Pedestrians, horses, wagons, and carriages used the narrow 18-ft. wide bridge to cross the Rio Grande River. Photograph Courtesy of the Estate of Robert Runyon.|
The toll on merchandise such as vegetables, cotton bales and pots and pans was six cents per hundred pounds. Automobiles paid twenty-five cents each plus five cents per passenger.
In 1953 the B&M Bridge was widened three feet to accommodate trucks. As Brownsville and Matamoros grew, the volume of traffic increased as well, requiring further renovation in 1992. In 1997 a four-lane concrete bridge was constructed next to the original steel bridge. Ninety years after the bridge first opened, the concrete addition is used exclusively for cars while the original structure crosses only trains.
Today the B&M Bridge Company is an American corporation owned jointly by the Union Pacific Railroad and the Federal Government of Mexico. Four officials of the Union Pacific Railroad serve on the board of directors, as do four representatives of the Mexican Federal government.
The bridge is unique in that all bridge administration, security, and maintenance services for both sides of the bridge are managed by a single operation located on the U.S. side. The most unusual feature is the fact that all tolls, both north & south bound, are collected on the U.S. side.
|In 1953, the B&M Bridge was widened 3 feet to accomodate trucks.
The volume of traffic increased steadily, and by 1992 it required extensive expansion.
At the B&M border station, U.S.Customs, Immigration & Naturalization Service, USDA.T.A.B.C., as well as the Border Patrol and local law enforcement work side by side to fulfill their different missions.
Rail traffic has been increasing steadily, most recently at a rate of twenty-one percent annually. Steel from the Port of Brownsville going to Monterrey, auto carriers and grain are some of the rail shipments. Of the three international bridges in the Brownsville- Matamoros area, the B&M currently leads in the total number of autos passing north and south. Its toll rates are traditionally lower than competing bridges.
For many years the B&M Bridge was referred to as the Old Bridge or Puente Viejo, acknowledging its history. Now the bridge has a new marketing concept and nickname: the Express Bridge. In 1999, the B&M Bridge introduced Express Cards; convenient prepaid toll cards. Available for purchase at every B&M tollbooth, the cards came in gold and platinum versions and were used by both northbound and southbound traffic. The toll taker simply punched out a fare each time the card was presented. The cards offered crossings at discounted rates. Within eighteen months of its initiation, more than eight percent of bridge traffic was using the Express Card to cross daily between Brownsville and Matamoros.
And now, with the addiction of our new Xpress Card Plus, travel to and from Mexico will be even quicker and easier. The B&M Bridge completed a bypass that gives cars access to the bridge when a train is blocking Calle Sexta in Matamoros. The railroad bridge is also continuously being upgraded with improvements to structure and image.
In 1999 the Texas Historical Commission and the Cameron County Historical Commission dedicated a state historical marker recognizing the bridge’s historical significance. Always attentive to customers and fiscally conservative for it’s owners, the company envisions becoming the standard of excellence in the international toll industry.