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New commercial port of entry in Douglas expected to boost local economy, workforce

Posted at 5:08 PM, Jun 27, 2024

DOUGLAS, Ariz. (KGUN) — Last year, more than 50,000 trucks transporting products passed through the Raul Hector Castro Port of Entry in Douglas, with a value of $2.2 billion in products. The addition of a new commercial port will dramatically increase those numbers, which is why Douglas Mayor, Donald Huish, is happy to see the progress moving forward.

“It seems like we've been waiting for a long time, and now it's finally, almost here,” he said.

Last week, the U.S. General Services Administration announced the continuation of the project, after the environmental studies passed.

“It's a major hurdle when you deal with federal projects,” Huish said of the environmental studies.

The city donated the land to the federal government for the project. Federal funding was awarded in 2021 when President Joe Biden signed the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.

The new commercial port, will be located 4.5 miles west of the current port, and is estimated to cost more than 300 million dollars. Most of which the federal government is paying. Huish says the city has to pay some of the bills, including adding natural gas and electricity to the site.

“The city needs to hurry up and get their their end of the bargain done, which, again, we're well aware of that," Huish said.

The city used grant money from Senator Mark Kelly's office to build a well on the property.

Douglas is the last of the Arizona's border communities to add a second port. The goal is to remove commercial trucks from the downtown port, so there is less congestion. Huish says the current port is sometimes shut down or delayed because of congestion and trucks having to make a 90 degree turn on the Mexico side of the border to enter the U.S.

The port will be the most up-to date in the country and a one stop shop for trucks and their cargo to be inspected. Luis Ramirez is an advocate for the state's ports of entries, ports are an economic driver for their communities and the country.

“The value of these ports of entry is critical to our national security and to our national economy,” he said.

Ramirez says so far this year, the US trade with Mexico is valued at $7.5 billion.

"I think the Arizona-Sonora border is second to none," he said. "We have the shortest wait times for trucks pretty much anywhere in the entire U.S.-Mexico border.”

He and Huish agree that the new port is going to grow Douglas’ economy and workforce. Huish says they estimate the addition of 60 customs agents to work at the new commercial port.

“These are probably the largest projects you will see in that the southeast corner of the state of Arizona in a long time,” Ramirez said.

Huish says companies are already looking to move to the area to support the drivers passing through.

“We’ve been approached already by truck stops, wanting to know what the progress is so they can make their plans to put in operations here," he said. "Hotels have also come knocking at our door, wanting to know.”

All of which is making land more desirable.

“Land that was going for 4 or 500 bucks, you know, four or five years ago, is probably well over $10,000 an acre right now,” Ramirez said.

TheRaul Hector Castro Port of Entry will also benefit from the federal money. The port, built in 1933, will get upgrades to modernize the port and improve the technology that currently there. There is also a possibility that the port will be expanded to allow more lanes of traffic to flow in and out. The port will only be allowed for pedestrians and tourists, which tend to benefit Douglas and all of Cochise County.

Huish says the design phase should be completed by the end of the year and construction can begin as early as March of next year. It's estimated to take 2 to 3 years to complete.

Huish told KGUN that the land on the Mexican side of the border was donated to their government for the project, however, with the new president and administration in office, the budget for the project and priories have not been shared yet. Huish is confident the Mexican government will continue to support the project as it benefits both border communities and countries.

Alexis Ramanjulu is a reporter in Cochise County for KGUN 9. She began her journalism career reporting for the Herald/Review in Sierra Vista, which she also calls home. Share your story ideas with Alexis by emailing or by connecting on Facebook.