Border Cities Focus on Economic Growth, Infrastructure Despite Drug War

Despite the violence plaguing parts of the border, cities are still investing in roads and waste water systems, and now even in solar projects and renewable energy.

Last year the Border Environment Cooperation Commission and the North American Development Bank, sister organizations created under NAFTA nearly 20 years ago, approved a 20-megawatt solar energy park in Picture Rocks, Arizona, which is expected to generate electricity for about 3,500 homes in Tuscon.

On Tuesday, the two agencies announced another round of spending with the approval of six more projects for a total of $180 million in loans and grants.

The projects include the construction or rehabilitation of 15 roadways and six overpasses in Juarez, one of many border towns with limited paved roads. The decision also allows for the financing of two water, wastewater and paving infrastructure projects in Nuevo Laredo that will help reduce pollution and provide more than 1,000 households with access to water and about 5,000 households with access to wastewater for the first time.

Another project was approved for Miguel Aleman, Tamaulipas, and another in Matamoros. The final project the board approved Tuesday is in Starr County, Texas where a $450,000 grant was given to finance a solid waste transfer station. Before Starr County, the bank funded 45 projects in Texas, making it the state with the highest number of infrastructure projects in either country.

The transfer station marks the 200th project certified by the Border Environment Cooperation Commission, most of which have been financed by the North American Development Bank for a total of $3.5 billion. The bank receives equal funding from the U.S. and Mexican governments, but has also received millions from the EPA over the years. … FULL STORY