HARLINGEN — Officials are close to landing a $5 million federal grant to help fund the city’s public transit center.

The Lower Rio Grande Valley Development Council is awaiting the Federal Transit Administration’s response to its application for a $5 million grant to build the transit center, Tom Logan, Valley Metro bus line’s director, said Tuesday.

“I’m very excited,” he said. “I think we’re very close. They’re doing the final review. It’s going to get approved very shortly.”

Today, city commissioners are expected to enter into an agreement with the development council to build the transit center that would serve as a Valley Metro hub.

“An interlocal agreement is routine with any city or county that we have a project with,” Manuel Cruz, the development council’s executive director, said. “It basically outlines the responsibilities.”

After entering into the agreement, city officials plan to hire an architect to launch the construction project, City Manager Dan Serna said.

“It’s an ongoing initiative to improve transportation and connectivity in Harlingen and the Rio Grande Valley,” he said of the project. “Obviously, it’s going to benefit many aspects of public transportation.”

Designing the terminal

Edinburg’s new 14,000-square-foot transit center might serve as the project’s model, officials said.

Like Edinburg’s terminal, the city’s transit center will likely include six bus bays, Cruz said.

But the city’s transit center will feature fewer offices than Edinburg’s terminal, Assistant City Manager Gabriel Gonzalez said.

Gonzalez said the city’s terminal will likely include management and payroll offices along with restaurants.

“We’d like to have at least restaurants to provide something for passengers,” he said.

Site offers interstate access

Late last year, city officials settled on a 1.8-acre site with access to the area’s highway system when commissioners approved the $291,000 purchase of the old Cameron County Precinct 4 warehouse property at 201 N. T St., fulfilling the prospective federal grant’s requirement for local money to help fund the project, Gonzalez said.

The site has served as Valley Metro’s makeshift hub since March 2018.

Transit center to transform public transportation

The city’s transit center, which Valley Metro will manage, stands to transform the area’s public transportation.

“It would be a welcome asset to the city of Harlingen,” Cruz said. “It would provide that valuable resource to the city of transit to get around the city and travel.”

The terminal will likely include other bus lines, Gonzalez said.

“We’re hoping to attract other bus lines to use that for a hub,” he said.

Inside the terminal, customers might buy tickets to board buses operated by Valley Metro and such companies as Valley Transit Co. and Greyhound.

Other companies such as Adame, Tornado and El Expreso might offer service into Mexico.

For decades, Valley Transit Co.’s station has served as the city’s bus center at 215 East Monroe Ave.

Meanwhile, residents have boarded buses bound for stops in the United States and Mexico outside a Stripes convenience store on Tyler Avenue near the Interstate 69 interchange.

With its central regional location, the city’s transit center could become a Valley Metro hub.

“That would be an ideal location for a regional hub considering we have routes up and down the Interstate 2 corridor,” Cruz said.

Officials are counting on completing the project in 2022.