SIERRA VISTA — Congresswoman Martha McSally has called on Trump Administration officials to accelerate the modernization of the Raul Castro Port of Entry in downtown Douglas and include construction of a commercial-only facility west of the city.
A letter from the Congresswoman was sent Thursday to Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly and the Acting Commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Kevin McAleenan,.
“I applaud the efforts of Customs and Border Protection Office of Field Operations personnel who manage the port for doing the best they can, but this increased activity coupled with high pedestrian traffic can no longer be accommodated by the current port of entry,” McSally states in the letter. “As such, the immediate modernization of the current port and the relocation of commercial operations to a new facility is the best way to meet current and future demands.”
Cochise County officials have met with representatives of a private equity group, Ardent Investments, LLC about development of a dedicated commercial port. Paul Fiel, managing member at the company, said the facility would become part of a transportation corridor linking a shipping port on the Pacific Ocean in Mexico to the eastern United States.
"Under the new Administration, a renewed interest by our local, county, state and Congressional leaders have breathed new life into the port of entry initiative,” Fiel said. “An updated downtown pedestrian and retail-focused port complimented by a new state-of-the-art commercial port, west of Douglas will bring a huge economic boost to Cochise County, all while increasing the security along our southern border."
Interviewed Thursday afternoon by telephone, Rep. McSally said the new White House Administration has expressed serious interest in border security initiatives.
“Time is of the essence on this,” she said. “This is a critical project for our security and for the community.”
Property where the commercial port is proposed measures just over 600 acres and is located west of the Douglas city limits. It is owned by Ardent Investments, LLC, which has also offered its consulting services in applying for federal funds for the project.
The company is proposing federal funds for the construction of the commercial port of entry west of Douglas, and to renovate the downtown facility. State funds would pay for expansion of James Ranch Road, between the border and Highway 80, a distance of 1.7 miles, under the Ardent proposal.
Private “equity partners” would invest in the surrounding 608.5 acres of property available around the proposed site, Paul Fiel said.
Cochise County Administrator Ed Gilligan pointed to the Congresswoman’s support as an important development in plans for a commercial-only port, west of Douglas.
“Congresswoman McSally hit the nail on the head,” Gilligan said. “I sincerely appreciate her assistance in advancing our efforts to turn a plea for help into an actionable plan for improvement.”