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Efforts to renovate last remaining suspension bridge on Rio Grande hits roadblocks

The Roma-Miguel Alemán International Bridge has been around since 1928. It is the last remaining suspension bridge on the Rio Grande.

The Roma-Miguel Alemán International Bridge has been around since 1928. It is the last remaining suspension bridge on the Rio Grande.

"With its current condition and the analysis the engineers have made, we're not sure if it's going to make it a hundred," said Roma Assistant City Manager Freddy Guerra.

Guerra says that if one part of the bridge fails, the bridge could collapse and damage the existing one.

The bridge is in two countries: the U.S. side is owned by Starr County and the Mexican side by the Secretariat of Communications and Transportation.

The bridge has been closed since 1978. Efforts to restore it started in 1988. Starr County received funding through TxDOT through a Step Grant in 1995, but nothing has been done to the bridge because Mexico can't cover the remaining cost.

The tension cables on the bridge are starting to fail and pull apart at the base. The main tension cables are carrying the weight.

Roberto Zilli de la Garza is Cuidad Miguel Alemán's economic development and tourism secretary. He has knocked on doors of numerous government agencies but has not had luck.

In 2008, Tamaulipas set aside money for the bridge, but the U.S. State Department did not agree with the state's sole sourcing for a contractor.

Zilli de la Garza says that if the administration changes, the project could potentially be put on hold again. City officials in Roma are hoping the current mayor of Cuidad Miguel Alemán gets re-elected so they can move forward with renovating the bridge.

"Because of this bridge, we had so much economic prosperity over the years,” Guerra said. “And just that connection with Mexico, and just to see it torn down for it to collapse on us would be tragic"

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