Port of Entry Expansion in Douglas-Agua Prieta
Updated Oct. 7, 2019
Living in Douglas means having some sort of love/hate relationship with the port of entry. The port is aging and for a long time now can no longer adequately serve the needs of people crossing the border between Douglas and Agua Prieta. The port was built in 1933 and its last major renovation was completed in 1997. All traffic crossing from AP to Douglas uses the port, including cargo trucks, cars and people on foot. The trucks, some of which are oversized and carry hazardous materials, must navigate sharp turns, creating dangers and delays. Is the solution to renovate the existing post for pedestrians and cars and build a new port at somewhere else for commercial vehicles? Officials believe so. What do you think? Here is some relevant information we thought might interest you.
Problems with the cargo port
- Between the size and number of the trucks and awkward turns they navigate to access the cargo port cause significant delays for vehicles at the passenger port.
- Delays affect businesses on both sides of the border and inconvenience everyone trying to cross. Peak commercial vehicle crossing times, usually between 1:30 to 3 p.m., delays can be an hour or more. According to Customs and Border Protection, it takes an average of 11 minutes to cross the border.
- Often, trucks, which support mining and smelter operations in Sonora, carry hazardous materials.
Problems with passenger vehicles
- Passenger cars weave between the 18-wheelers, creating additional hazards.
- Average wait times for northbound crossings at the POE are an average 11 minutes, according to officials at the Tucson Sector Field Operations. However locals will tell you that it depends on what time of day you are trying to cross. There are certain times of day when pedestrians will wait more than an hour in line.
- “If you need to be back in Douglas by, 2-4 p.m., you might as well not go,” said Douglas resident Norma Escalante. “The line is longest when people are getting ready to pick up their kids from school. I think the longest I’ve ever had to wait was two hours.”
In 2017 total border crossings of traffic going in either direction:
- 60,000 trucks
- 3.5 million cars
- 8 million people
Recent improvements to the existing port
- The U.S. federal government completed a new parking lot that will provide space for port employees. Previously, employees had been parking in the port entry, which was not a secure area and which created traffic flow issues. (1)
- In 2018, a third lane was added for pedestrian crossings to address congestion.
- In 2018, work was done to try to minimize flooding at the facility.
Current solution proposed by two federal agencies
- Two U.S. federal agencies — Customs and Border Protection and the General Services Administration — completed a study in 2019 that confirms that two ports are needed to solve the problem. (2)
- U.S. officials are seeking a commitment from Mexico to move forward with the two-port plan. (2)
- The city and county agreed on a location at James Ranch Road for the new commercial port in April 2019. (3)
Project costs and funding
- The project cleared one funding hurdle in July 2019, when a House committee approved Homeland Security spending for 2020, which includes $848 million for port modernization projects. (5)
- April 10, 2019 The City of Douglas passed a non-binding resolution of commitment to the donation of land for the construction of the new port, and to work with stakeholders to plan and develop the infrastructure improvements that will be needed for the proposed commercial port of entry operations. Among the needed infrastructure and services are water, wastewater, sewage, broadband and electricity.
- Cochise County also passed a resolution putting the port of entry in their strategic plan goals. The County Board of Supervisors has committed to set aside $200,000 to fund a master plan for the proposed site.
No exact timeline has been established but city officials have said “This is a multi-year process and there are many financial, bureaucratic, political and international hurdles that must be overcome along the way.”
- New Parking Lot Completed at Douglas Port of Entry, Douglas Dispatch, May 14, 2019
- Two-Part Solution, a city of Douglas presentation (PDF), Aug. 6, 2019
- Douglas, Cochise County Approve Location for New Port Of Entry, Arizona Public Media, Aug. 18, 2019
- Map, Douglas Dispatch, April 16, 2019
- Funding supports second Douglas port of entry, Herald/Review, June 14, 2019