Earlier this month, Douglas mayor Robert Uribe traveled to Agua Prieta, Sonora alongside city and county officials to update Sonoran leadership on the “Two-Port Solution” project and push for continued progress.
Douglas’s existing border connection with Sonora, the Raul H. Castro port of entry, is one of the busiest ports of entry in the region. In 2017, the port facilitated border crossings by approximately 8 million pedestrians, 3.5 million cars, and sixty thousand commercial vehicles, according to the City of Douglas website.
But the city says the port is “outdated, overburdened and in desperate need of significant investments to modernize the facility.”
That’s a big reason why Uribe has pushed not only to renovate the existing port of entry, but also to build a new port exclusively for commercial vehicle traffic.
“We’ve pushed this project so far that it’s essential that our counterparts in Mexico are moving at the same speed,” Uribe said. “Just one misstep on either side can derail the project, so this has to happen simultaneously.”
During the August meeting, representatives from the City of Douglas met with CILA – the Mexican counterpart of the International Boundary and Water Commission – to share the U.S.’s progress on advancing the two-port solution project at both state and federal levels. A presentation by Luis Ramirez, Advisor to the Douglas Regional Economic Development Corporation, led to renewed energy about the project among Mexican officials, Uribe said.
“One of the things that was a highlight was when Mr. Ramirez presented the port of entry presentation and the advancements that we’ve made on the actual project, which brought a lot of excitement to everyone at the conference,” Uribe said.
Some of those notable advancements, include strong support from Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick in Washington and from the federal General Services Administration, the latter which Uribe said, “Agreed that the only solution for Douglas is a two-port solution”.
Another important factor was the passage of unanimous resolutions at the city and county level indicating mutual agreement on a site for the new port of entry.
“That’s good because it seems like we’re all coming together — the city, the county, the state and the federal government,” he said.
That’s not to say that construction on the new port of entry will begin anytime soon, however. Uribe says he still thinks it will be a few years before the U.S. federal government will add the new port of entry to the fiscal budget. The key is to continue to work with the Mexican government so that key funding timelines align between the two countries.
“We want to make sure that the President and Congress in Mexico understand that we are looking for 2021 funding for the Douglas port of entry,” he said. “We want to make sure that the same thing happens on the Mexican side.”
That’s why a specific request was made during August’s meeting for Sonoran officials to work further with the Federal Government of Mexico “to push for the investments needed on the Mexican side for the construction of the new port of entry,” according to a press release.
“I’m super excited,” Uribe said. “It’s a team effort, and I’m proud of the work that we’ve been producing on the Southeast corner of Arizona.”