Coalition Promoting Travel on Ruta 54

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RIO GRANDE CITY – A group in Starr County is trying to bring back the main highway from Monterrey, Mexico to Roma.

It’s called Ruta 54, or Route 54, initiative.

Roberto Salinas, mayor of Roma, said they recently held a third meeting.

“This is a coalition of mayors and business specialists and entrepreneurs from both sides of the border,” he said.

They want to promote traffic on the route again. It once flowed with commercial trucks and tourists. The group meets every other month in different cities on both sides.

However, traffic has declined due to the war on the drug cartels.

“So what’s happening now is that all the small towns along the route are hurting economically,” Salinas said.

And the initiative may be working. One new business in neighboring Rio Grande City, DCM Nutrition and Pharama, a supplement company for cattle, goats, lambs and even deer has its trucks utilizing Route 54.

“This is our first shipment. We did have some product available but not a whole truck load. These are products to enhance your animal so it can be the healthiest that it could be possibly be,” Maidza Garza, with the supplement company, said.

The mayor of Rio Grande City said the relations with Mexico amounts to millions of dollars.

“Here in Rio Grande City, we’re looking at a billion dollars in commerce that goes through our bridge annually. The message is that we have a symbiotic relationship that we need to foster between Mexico and the United States,” Rio Grande City Mayor Joel Villarreal said.

“It’s the lifeline between us and Monterrey, a city that has over 1.7 million in population. So what we’re trying to do is promote Ruta 54, so that hopefully some of those people can come over through our port and come and do some shopping here,” Starr County Judge Eloy Vera said.

The initiative will continue to try to make changes.

“It’s in very good condition and there’s 24 hour security by both the state of Tamaulipas and the state of Nuevo Leon,” Salinas said.

Ruta 54, they argue, is also the shortest route between Monterrey and the Rio Grande Valley.

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