Arizona’s Cross-Border Project Gets $8.9 Million State Grant
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Arizona’s governor has allocated $8.9 million to help modernize the port of entry in Douglas, where a new commercial one is being built to bolster the state’s trade with Mexico.
Despite past renovations to the existing port of entry in Douglas, built nearly 90 years ago, it is unable to handle the amount of cross-border trade, valued at $5 billion in annual imports/exports in 2021.
Traffic from Mexico going through the existing Raul H. Castro land port located in Douglas during 2021 amounted to more than 28,700 trucks, 1.2 million cars, 570,000 pedestrians and more than 2.5 million people.
“One of my top priorities while in office has been to advance Arizona’s relationship with our neighbor Mexico,” Gov. Doug Ducey said Dec. 15. “A modernized port in Douglas will allow for increased trade, tourism, transportation and broadband, opening new pathways for economic collaboration. And beyond business, many people in Arizona have family ties in Mexico that go back generations.”
State and federal officials are working on a two-port solution in Douglas to handle the pedestrians, commuters, visitors and goods traveling back and forth.
The existing land port will be designated for noncommercial pedestrian, car and bus traffic.
As part of a future, larger planned trade network — the Douglas International Commercial Corridor — the city of Douglas will relocate commercial truck traffic from the downtown to the new commercial port on 80 acres of land it will donate to the federal government.
“Extensive work is also underway with Mexican federal agencies to ensure a coordinated binational approach to the port of entry projects,” the city stated.
The General Services Administration, which led a feasibility study in 2019 for the entire project, has allocated federal infrastructure funding for $216 million to design and construct the commercial port and $184 million to modernize the existing Raul H. Castro port.
Speeding up truck traffic, the new dedicated commercial land port in Douglas will have primary commercial inspection booths, a canopy, headhouse and administrative building as well as secondary vehicle inspection docks, a hazmat building and a U.S. Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration facility.
Arizona Department of Transportation expects to spend $1.5 million on a 1.7-mile new connector road on James Ranch Road from the international border to state Route 80.
Other work includes providing natural gas, electricity, broadband communications and water/wastewater connections to the new commercial port. The new trade network area will be developed for industrial, commercial and residential purposes.
The governor’s extra money will come from the federal American Rescue Plan Act and be dedicated for water initiatives for wastewater, groundwater and storage.
“Billions of dollars worth of goods pass through the Raul H. Castro port of entry in Douglas every year,” Mayor Donald Huish said. “This investment will help our city modernize this vitally important trade route. This investment will promote trade and facilitate cross-border travel for visitors and tourists, major economic drivers for our community. We’re grateful to Gov. Ducey for prioritizing Arizona’s relationship with Mexico.”
City officials look forward to jobs being created in warehousing, manufacturing and ancillary services.
“Douglas’s economy is bound to gain jobs, investment and new businesses with a modernized port of entry,” said Patrick Scherden, chairman of the Douglas Regional Economic Development Corp. and Douglas Industrial Development Authority.
He said this state investment will help Douglas better attract tourists and businesses while making the new commercial land port of entry a step closer.
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