New Mariposa Land Port to Improve Border Security and Facilitate Trade

Our land ports of entry play a vital role in the security of our nation. They also facilitate economic trade and prosperity, cultural exchange, and connect families and bi-national communities. GSA is striving to modernize its land port infrastructure along our nation’s borders to support current requirements, but also to meet the throughput projections, security and environmental requirements for the next 10, 20, and even 30 years.

On October 15, I had the honor of co-hosting a ribbon cutting ceremony with the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) at our Mariposa Land Port of Entry (LPOE) in Nogales, Ariz. Close to 400 guests celebrated the completion of our eight-year design and construction modernization project, including U.S. Ambassador Anthony Wayne, our partners at CBP, and many of the officials who helped make this project a reality: Senator Jeff Flake; Congressman Raul Grijalva; Nogales, Ariz. Mayor Arturo Garino; and Nogales, Sonora Mayor Ramon Guzman Muñoz.

Land Port of Entry Mariposa ribbon cutting event.
Land Port of Entry Mariposa ribbon cutting event. (Left to right: U.S. Ambassador Anthony Wayne, Congressman Raul Grijalva, Senator Jeff Flake, Regional Administrator Ruth Cox, CBP director of Tucson Field Operations Office William Brooks, Sonora Mayor Ramon Guzman Munoz, AZ Mayor Arturo Garino) 

The Mariposa LPOE is one of America’s busiest land ports. It is the primary port of entry for fresh produce entering the United States from Mexico, and the main produce distribution point on the southern border, handling approximately 37 percent of all Mexican imported fresh produce in the United States. According to the Nogales Economic Development Office, $26 billion flowed through the Arizona-Sonora border in imports and exports in 2011, with most of that through Nogales.

Prior to our project, the existing port facilities were 35 years old. As a result of changes in CBP’s enforcement mission and increased vehicular and pedestrian traffic, they could no longer provide the required level of support for expedient processing through the port. Delays crossing the border were having a direct and significant impact on the local economy and jobs in the area, not to mention delaying the delivery of fresh produce to consumer markets.

As one of GSA’s largest American Recovery and Reinvestment Act projects, the Mariposa port project aids CBP in more effectively performing their mission by improving efficiency, security, and safety for officers and the traveling public. It required the demolition and new construction of all facilities within the port to include: primary and secondary inspection areas for both commercial and privately owned vehicles; a new administration building; a pedestrian-processing facility; a new canine kennel, and other support structures. All of this work was completed  while keeping the port operational. That was a significant accomplishment in itself and required close coordination with our customers and our contractors.

The port is built to be sustainable through a combination of a solar domestic hot water system, advanced lighting, rainwater harvesting, and building automation systems. It is also our hope to deploy photovoltaics  in the near future to generate clean power to support port operations. Individually, these design features showcase the latest, and smartest, sustainable building techniques. Collectively, they represent an investment in our future.

While talking to our guest speakers and other attendees at the ribbon cutting ceremony, I was struck by the sense of community, partnership, and pride we all share in this project. It was a true collaboration not only between GSA, CBP, and our contractors, but also with the city of Nogales, the Arizona Department of Transportation, the Greater Nogales Santa Cruz County Port Authority, members of the Arizona Congressional delegation, our counterparts in Mexico and many others. They often referred to the port of entry as a cornerstone of Arizona’s and Ambos Nogales’ (the joint communities of Nogales, Arizona and Nogales, Sonora, Mexico) economy.

With state-of-the-art technologies and capacity improvements, the Mariposa LPOE is now one of the most modern, sustainable and efficient ports of entry along the U.S. – Mexico border.