La Linda International Bridge

La Linda International Bridge is an international bridge that crosses the Rio Grande (Río Bravo del Norte) on the United States–Mexico border in the Big Bend region of Texas. It is the southern terminus of Ranch to Market Road 2627 in Heath Canyon and connects Brewster County with the village of La Linda in Acuña Municipality, Coahuila. The bridge is also known as the Gerstaker Bridge and the Hallie Stillwell Memorial Bridge. The one lane international bridge was constructed in 1964 by Dow Chemical to transport fluorspar from mines in Coahuila into the United States. The unmonitored international bridge was shut down in 1997 by United States / Mexican authorities because of suspected smuggling. Other reports add that a Mexican customs inspector was killed at the bridge, which resulted in its closure.

The closing of the bridge created the longest stretch of U.S.-Mexico border without a legal border crossing, almost 400 miles, between the Presidio-Ojinaga and Del Rio-Acuna crossings. A number of individuals have advocated reopening the bridge, citing benefits such as increased revenues for the area from ecotourism, improved access for persons who do business in the U.S. and Mexico, and a need for a crossing based sheerly on the shared cultural and familial ties between persons on each side of the border.

In 2003, the 78th Legislature of the State of Texas passed a resolution advocating its support of the reopening of the La Linda Bridge, noting that the bridge remains in good condition and that local governments in the U.S. and Mexico support the reopening of the bridge as a legal border crossing.

In 1998 the US owners, the National Parks and Conservation Association, Andrew Kurie & Kurie family were granted a three-year suspension of a US Coast Guard removal order. That was affirmed through an exchange of diplomatic notes; After the April 2002 U.S.-Mexico Binational Bridges and Border Crossings Group Meeting, a diplomatic note was exchanged between the U.S. and Mexican governments extending the moratorium on the removal of the bridge by the US Coast Guard through June 2003. Subsequent notes and negotiations allowed the discussions to continue between the U.S. and Mexico. State of Texas support for re-opening was asserted in HCR 164 enacted and signed by Governor Perry in January 2008. Sources S.C.T., December 1998, TxDOT International Relations Office, March 2006; U.S. Department of State, March 1999. COLINDA, June 2009

RE-OPENING PROPOSAL SUBMITTED JUNE 2009

A new proposal on the future of Las Linda was introduced at the June 3, 2009 Bridges and Border crossings meeting in Brownsville . To formalize its proposal COLINDA is securing input from an array of sources, including Customs and Border Patrol,

TxDOT and Coahuila Obras Publicas & Turismo, Big Bend National Park, Comision Nacional de Areas Protegidas, El Carmen conservation groups, secondary schools and colleges in the US and Mexico ,Texas Parks and Wildlife, IBWC/CILA and private property owners Kurie family.

U.S. PERMITS AND MEXICAN APPROVALS: U.S. Presidential Permits are not required for bridges built before 1972. La Linda was built and is authorized to operate as a toll facility under Public Law 87-525 Army Corps of Engineers Permit: DA-N-005-41-PERMIT-9, dated October 30, 1962. COLINDA’s June 2009 request for renewal of permits and approvals is being formalized by its attorneys. Sources: U.S. Coast Guard deposition dated November 30, 1964

TxDOT, International Relations Office, April 2007, COLINDA, June 2009

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