The Douglas Port of Entry (POE) is one step closer to modernization with the recent allocation of funding for a feasibility study by the General Services Administration (GSA) for Fiscal Year 2017.
U.S. Representative Martha McSally announced last week that GSA and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) will begin the study this fall.
“The feasibility study is critical because it will layout exactly what the modernization will look like; It’s a huge win for us,” McSally said during a phone interview with the Douglas Dispatch on Thursday. “This is the first real investment in this port since the mid 1990s, showing that we’ve been advocating tirelessly for this, showing that GSA and CBP have heard the message and have understood the priority and are now making that investment.”
The congresswoman successfully pushed CBP to include modernization of the Douglas POE in their Five-Year Plan, and throughout her time in Congress has called on GSA to fund this feasibility study which is necessary to move the project forward. The feasibility study will analyze the possible comprehensive modernization and processing capacity of the Douglas POE, and make recommendations for optimal steps towards modernization. Tentative completion for the feasibility study is set for summer 2018.
The next step towards modernization includes the process of funding these infrastructure projects appropriately, the congresswoman said.
“Our next step is to continue to advocate to the administration to include the actual funding for the modernization in the president’s budget,” said McSally. “It would be awesome if it came out in the president's budget in February, even with the feasibility study ongoing.”
She added, “We are tirelessly working with administration officials to make sure their analysis, assessment, and prioritization is shining a light on the importance of this project. Also at the same time advocating for the new commercial port of entry to be included in future Five-Year-Plans.”
The congresswoman mentioned that findings from the study are anticipated to call for $40-50 million in improvements to infrastructure at the port.
"I can’t thank Congresswoman McSally enough for the relentless support she has given our efforts to improve the border crossing experience at Douglas. Having her ready to go to the mat for us greatly improves our chances of success in accomplishing our two port solution,” Mayor Robert Uribe said. “We must fix our existing port and move the commercial truck traffic out of downtown and relocated to a new state of the art facility to the west of the city. We are very excited to have stellar congressional representative being such an integral part of our border community's efforts that carry far-reaching positive economic effects. Douglas is a key gateway for trade and tourism and our port of entry is a critical asset for our binational community, for Arizona and for our nation,”
Since January McSally has met with countless government officials to advocate for modernization at the POE, including the Secretary of Commerce, Secretary of Transportation of Homeland Security, and U.S. trade representatives among others.
“We need to work together to make sure that any NAFTA negotiations build on opportunities, and grow on them, and are not at the expense of border communities,” said McSally. “...The Douglas Port of Entry and the manning at the port have been a very big focus of mine related to economic growth and opportunity unique to southern Arizona...Douglas has tremendous potential to provide greater economic opportunity for your residents there.”
“Today’s news is a victory for Douglas, Arizona. This feasibility study is an essential requirement moving us closer to an updated and expanded Douglas Port of Entry. Our port of entry is a vital artery of trade that boosts our local economy and moves goods from Mexico, one of the world’s fastest growing economies—but it needs improvements,” said Chairwoman of the Cochise County Board of Supervisors, Ann English. “We are thankful for Congresswoman McSally’s effective efforts to upgrade the port since taking office, including her many visits to the area to see first-hand the need first hand. I am thankful Rep. McSally is our ally in Congress.”