Bait and Switch

by Rich Wright


The federal government plans to spend up to $700 million on an expansion of the international Bridge of the Americas and U.S. Rep. Veronica Escobar, D-Texas, spoke about it and the impact this expansion would have on the area.

. . .

“None of the alternatives touch any of the neighborhoods, touch any private property. It only impacts the State of Texas and the County of El Paso as government entities,” Escobar said.

She added that out of the three options presented by GSA, they are leaning toward the option that would leave the coliseum and ice rink standing.

“While nothing is off the table, in my latest conversation with GSA, they have told me that the current preferred alternative is the design that leaves the coliseum intact and also leaves the ice rink intact,” Escobar said.

Color me skeptical.

Back when our illustrious leaders were plotting to put an arena in Duranguito, they let slip that the arena would be located at the rail yards.

Of course they were lying, trying to placate a motivated citizenry till it was too late for them to do anything about it.

Leaving the County Coliseum intact doesn’t achieve the real purpose of the BOTA expansion. The real purpose is to free up the County’s share of the Hotel Occupancy Tax which the the County Coliseum currently receives. This money would then go to some other worthy party, i.e., MountainStar Sports Group.

The players have been after that HOT money since forever. Let’s call it the HOT potato.

Expand truck traffic in the middle of the city? Really? In what universe does that make any sense? Especially when there’s a perfectly good alternative in the newish Marcelino Serna Port of Entry out there in Tornillo. There’s lots of available land out there on both sides of the border. Relieving truck traffic in the city center was the reason they pitched the Tornillo crossing in the first place.

“While nothing is off the table . . .,” U.S. Rep. Escobar said. Well, let’s make it official and take destroying the Coliseum off the table. Let’s take expanding truck traffic in one of our community’s poorest neighborhoods off the table.

That would make sense, if the politicians worked for the people and not just their campaign donors.


  1. As it is, the latest TxDOT work on the freeway system has eliminated any way to get onto the Free Bridge to go into Cd. Juarez from the east! We who live anywhere east of that part of town have to go miles out of our way in order to take the U. S. 54/Cd. Juarez Exit from I-10, or just way up the U. S. 54/Patriot Freeway, in order to get the right connection. Add more trucks and very likely we’ll see no way for automobile traffic to ever access either side of the bridge.

  2. Rich, I think that your are right on this one. There are parties who would like nothing more than to see the Coliseum flattened to fund another sports venue (and eliminate the competition, too).

    Another issue in the BOTA expansion was passionately argued by community activist, Cemelli de Aztlan of Mujer Obrera. She described the diesel fumes from idling trucks coming across BOTA affecting a local school yard, i.e., kids were treated to diesel smoke on their playground and this will only get worse unless truck traffic is routed off that bridge. This is as good an example of what is called, “environmental injustice” as you could see in El Paso.

    We’ll keep our fingers crossed that Rep. Escobar is right and BOTA expansion will not threaten the Coliseum or make life worse for neighborhood kids on their school playground. Now, if we could just get her to say that the Ukraine war will not be expanded…

  3. Very interesting post. And Veronica Escobar’s word is as valuable as counterfeit money, if you want to believe it is real, take your chances.

    Seeing the semis lined up and idling on the overpass from the bridge is really scary. I wonder every time if it was designed for that kind of a load.

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