U.S. Rep. McSally Calls on CBP Head to Advance Douglas Port of Entry Project
TUCSON – U.S. Representative Martha McSally today in a letter called on U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Commissioner Gil Kerlikowske to explain the next steps needed to advance a proposed expansion of the Douglas Port of Entry. The Port accounts for nearly $4 billion in trade through two-way truck traffic, which has grown by 5% a year since 2010. Rep. McSally has consistently met with city and local leaders and Port officials about the need to expand the Port, allowing for increased trade and economic activity in Douglas.
“The City of Douglas, Arizona, in my district, has been attempting to secure the approval of a new Commercial Port of Entry with your Department since 2012,” said Rep. McSally in the letter. “In coordination with the Municipality of Agua Prieta, Sonora, Mexico, the City of Douglas requires an expansion of their commercial port as a way of harnessing economic opportunities, bolstering trade, and furthering Customs and Border Protections’ mission and ability to provide security… I write today to ask that you inform me and representatives from the City of Douglas as to how they take the next step in this vital project.”
“This expansion will not only benefit Douglas and Cochise County, but our state and the entire nation by helping move goods from Mexico, one of the world’s fastest growing economies,” said Douglas Mayor Danny Ortega. “I thank Congresswoman McSally for her efforts. Since taking office, she’s been our biggest and strongest supporter and has made several visits to the area to see first-hand the need for this port of entry. Without her help, we would not be where we are today, and I feel we are very close to getting this project to fruition.”
On December 23, 2014 the City of Douglas submitted a request to CBP to accept partial non-government funding for the project through a Public-Private Partnership. In the letter, Rep. McSally asks for the next steps needed to approve this request as well as the five-year construction plans for CBP and the General Services Administration and what criteria has been used to fund and prioritize similar projects along the U.S. border.
Rep. McSally recently touring the Douglas Port of Entry
Mayor Danny Ortega and Rep. McSally in Douglas
To view a PDF of the letter, click HERE.
The full letter text follows.
The Honorable R. Gil Kerlikowske
U.S. Customs and Border Protection
1300 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20229
Dear Commissioner Kerlikowske:
The City of Douglas, Arizona, in my district, has been attempting to secure the approval of a new Commercial Port of Entry with your Department since 2012. In coordination with the Municipality of Agua Prieta, Sonora, Mexico, the City of Douglas requires an expansion of their commercial port as a way of harnessing economic opportunities, bolstering trade, and furthering Customs and Border Protections (CBP) mission and ability to provide security.
Volume at the port of entry has experienced rapid growth in recent years. In 2014, the Douglas port of entry processed more than 64,000 commercial trucks in two-way traffic. CBP estimates that the flow of trucks represents close to $4 billion worth of trade between the United States and Mexico. Additionally, the port processed 2.9 million cars and 2.3 million pedestrians in 2014, for a combined total of 8.3 million people in two way traffic. Truck traffic has been growing at an annualized rate of more than 5% per year since 2010.
The increased activity at the port is anticipated to continue in the next several years. However, in 2007, the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) determined through a feasibility study, that there is needed expansion to the Douglas POE facility. In 2013, Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) determined that the existing Douglas POE will not allow CBP to adequately meet its mission within the next five years. Expansions at the facility must be made to ensure that commerce will continue in an efficient manner.
Diminishing federal budgets has tied the hands of many government agencies including the Federal Buildings Fund that GSA utilizes to construct new facilities. As such, the City of Douglas has identified funding sources in the form of a new Private Public Partnership that entails the investment of $47.0 million required for the development and construction of the project. Since doing so, Douglas has submitted a Section 559 Donation Acceptance Authority proposal that meets all of your requirements and has done its best to answer your questions as quickly and effectively as possible. It is my understanding that the City of Douglas is waiting to receive a formal response from your department as it relates to the Section 559 proposal submitted on December 23, 2014. With this in mind, I am respectfully requesting that you outline for me the next and remaining steps in the Section 559 evaluation process, schedule, rationale and criteria that will be used to evaluate these proposals. However, efforts to further the position and develop this project outside of the Section 559 Donation Acceptance Authority are being complicated by lengthy and bureaucratic procedures coming from your Department. Subsequently, Mexico has begun to place less emphasis on its portion of the project.
I write today to ask that you inform me and representatives from the City of Douglas as to how they take the next step in this vital project. The City of Douglas is prepared to undertake any all reasonable financing risks to include the issuance of bonds as clearly this project is the life breath for the Douglas community and the region. Additionally, I would like to obtain a copy of the five year construction in process plan for both CBP and the GSA. It is my understanding that Douglas has not been allocated any funds for the construction of the new POE or improvements to the existing facility since 2007 while several projects in New Mexico and Texas continue to be funded. Please explain how CBP, GSA, and Office of Management and Budget (OMB) analyze criteria used to prioritize these types of projects. If I can be of further assistance I am happy to meet with you to discuss how I can advance this critical matter. I look forward to your timely response.
Member of Congress