San Luis II Land Port of Entry
GSA is proud to be the landlord of San Luis II, a new commercial Land Port of Entry (LPOE) on the U.S. southern border. The 80-acre site is located five miles east of San Luis, Arizona, a region that plays a significant role as a gateway for imports and exports to and from Mexico. The LPOE features three incoming lanes from Mexico and two outgoing lanes for commercial traffic; it also supports the FAST (Free and Secure Trade) traffic program with a dedicated import FAST lane. While port hours of operation are generally 7 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday, it is designed to accommodate 24-hour operations. Initially, the port is expected to process approximately 150 trucks per day; this is expected to grow to 650 trucks per day by 2030.
This port is the product of significant effort from local, state, and federal officials, as well as the local San Luis community and Mexico. The project was solidified with the signing of a Diplomatic Note by the U.S. and Mexico, then proceeded as follows:
- March 2004: Feasibility Study for the San Luis II LPOE completed.
- November 2006: Program development completed and Design/Build Request for Qualifications (RFQ) issued.
- April 2007: Proposals accepted and reviewed and Design/Build contract signed.
- September 2009: Construction of the commercial LPOE completed.
Goals of the Project
The San Luis II project was designed to create a separate port for servicing commercial border-crossing traffic (except buses) in the San Luis area. This will mitigate traffic congestion, create room for expansion at the existing San Luis I Port, and respond to an increasing demand from the commercial shipping industry.
The Diplomatic Note creating the current San Luis II LPOE specified that only commercial traffic would utilize this port. However it is master-planned for the possible future expansion to serve as a full-service Port to inspect Privately Owned Vehicles (POV), pedestrians, as well as commercial vehicles. The master plan also includes capacity in the San Luis II LPOE to expand commercial inspection to meet increasing future demand master plan.
Relationship to the Existing San Luis I LPOE
The current U.S. Port of Entry (San Luis I) in San Luis, Arizona, is a full-service LPOE for inspecting commercial traffic, privately owned vehicles (POV), and pedestrians. Since its original construction in 1984, San Luis I has experienced dramatic growth in traffic volumes. Population growth, increased law enforcement activities, changes in trade policies, outdated facilities, and aging technology have combined to require an expansion in port capacity in San Luis.
San Luis I is located at the commercial center of the City of San Luis on the U.S. side, and the City of San Luis Rio Colorado on the Mexican side. Expansion of the existing port was limited by existing city infrastructure. Commercial vehicle queuing in downtown San Luis Rio Colorado created congestion and dangerous conflicts between vehicles and pedstrians, and inhibited the expansion of the commercial shipping industry. For these primary reasons, the U.S. and Mexico signed a Diplomatic Note to create the new San Luis II Commercial LPOE in a rural area to the east of downtown. This was designed to remove commercial traffic from the existing port and therefore increase its POV and pedestrian processing capacity, while eliminating a disruptive and crowding element from the center of the two cities.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is primarily responsible for manning and operating the San Luis II LPOE. In conjunction with CBP, both the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) have representatives at the site.
The Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT), Arizona Department of Public Safety (DPS), Arizona Motor Vehicle Department (MVD), and the Federal Motor Carriers (FMC) combine to operate a 20-acre facility immediately adjacent to the LPOE. These agencies conduct safety inspections, collect fees, and issue permits for inbound commercial traffic.
The Greater Yuma Port Authority (GYPA) is a group of private investors and local businesspeople who facilitated early implementation of the LPOE. They donated land to the federal government for construction of the port, worked with counterparts from Mexico, helped fund and coordinate new roadways and utilities for the site, and worked with the local, state, and federal agencies and the general public to garner support for the LPOE. The GYPA also coordinated and funded a number of exterior projects related to the LPOE. The group will be developing land near the port for commercial and industrial use.
The San Luis II LPOE was developed in partnership with Mexico. Mexico had to construct a new customs facility across the border from the U.S. LPOE. Since the site is in a rural area, Mexico had to construct highways and infrastructure to their new port as well, including construction of an overpass/underpass to bridge an existing roadway infrastructure. In addition, they are implementing an 8,000-acre industrial park to the southwest of the site in San Luis Rio Colorado.
Prior to construction, in September 2000, an Environmental Assessment (EA) of the San Luis II LPOE site was conducted. The EA provided a comprehensive overview of the potential environmental impacts of developing the site.
The EA considered:
- Hydrology and Water Quality
- Traffic and Circulation
- Air Quality
- Biological Resources
- Land Use
- Environmental Justice
- Public Safety
- Cultural and Historic Resources
- Visual and Aesthetic Resources
The EA outlined measures required to mitigate potential impacts. The most significant environmental concerns found dealt with two endangered/threatened species. While lack of water, vegetation, and topographic characteristics make the site unsuitable habitat for most endangered/threatened species, the flat-tailed horned lizard and sand food plant were of concern. While neither species was found at the site during the EA prior to project construction, both species are indigenous to the area.
The flat-tailed horned lizard is listed as a species of special concern in Arizona. Sand food is listed as Highly Safeguarded by the Arizona Native Plant Law. This rare species is a parasitic flowering plant that lives on sand dunes throughout the southwestern U.S. and northern Mexico.
The Greater Yuma Port Authority contributed $235,000 to the Flat-Tailed Horned Lizard Strategy Fund for land acquisition to compensate for the loss of habitat at the LPOE. Additional mitigation measures were also instituted including education of construction and port workers, a capture and relocation policy, lizard barriers at the site perimeter to keep any horned lizards from wandering onto the site, ongoing reporting, and continued monitoring of the site.
Continuing a legacy of outstanding public architecture, GSA seeks to:
- demonstrate the value of a true integrated design that balances aesthetics, cost, constructability, and reliability
- create environmentally responsible and superior workplaces for civilian federal employees
- give contemporary form and meaning to our democratic value
In order to construct a new Commercial LPOE in as short a time frame as possible, a Design/Build project delivery process was used whereby a single contract was awarded for all design and construction activities. The Design Build Team (DBT) was charged with delivering a project which fully provided for the function and use of the port tenants (CBP, FDA, and USDA). In addition, GSA required that the port design be distinctive while projecting an image appropriate to the local community. The design was to relate to and reinforce the best aspects of the local and regional architecture and environment. In addition, the port needed an appearance which would distinguish it from surrounding buildings. Other important aspects of design included:
- conforming to Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED®) criteria
- meeting the Design Excellence Program objectives of the Guiding Principles of Federal Architecture
- providing for ease of future expansion
The DBT provided a design based on Southwestern history and architecture using an orderly geometric perspective to both planning and the buildings themselves. Ancient Aztec buildings were frequently arranged on a series of plinths rising from the site, grounding buildings with landscape. The LPOE Main and Commercial Inspection Buildings are connected with a green spine offering shade trees and a covered walkway. Like the axial orientation of the plan for the Meso-American city of Teotihuacan, buildings and other facilities plug into the spine much as ribs to a torso while primary utility runs travel this spine with simplified connections to all buildings. The design positions buildings on a broad flat site that are anchored to the ground with site walls which provide a modest amount of irrigated, green landscape while providing the necessary containment for native soil. The buildings and their canopies evoke the Andean Cross, a symbol not only of indigenous civilization, but one that suggests balance, harmony, and formality.
The San Luis II LPOE design provides the program fundamentals, safety, security, and site circulation within an aesthetic framework that addresses design excellence, ease of expansion, historic context, and American values. The port is a clean, safe, secure, functional, modern facility for supporting federal agents in their work. The port embodies the value, function, and style befitting a federal law enforcement facility.
GSA is committed to incorporating principles of sustainable design and energy efficiency into all its building projects. The result is an optimal balance of cost, environmental, societal, and human benefits that meets the mission and function of the intended facility. As a means of evaluating and measuring our sustainable building achievements, all new GSA construction projects and substantial renovations must be certified through the LEED® Green Building Rating system of the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC).
A minimum LEED® certification of Silver was required in the RFQ for the San Luis II LPOE under the USGBC New Construction and Major Renovation Version 2.2. GSA project improvements along with design and construction innovations pushed the actual implementation to a Gold Certification.
The environmental impact of building design, construction, and operation is significant. Sustainable building practices can substantially reduce or eliminate negative environmental impacts and improve existing design, construction, and operational practices that are unsustainable for the long term. The LEED Green Building Rating System is a voluntary, consensus-based, market-driven building rating system based on existing proven technology. The rating system evaluates environmental performance from a whole building perspective over a building’s entire life cycle, providing a definitive standard for sustainable buildings.
The LEED® for New Construction Version 2.2 rating system is organized into five environmental categories: Sustainable Sites, Water Efficiency, Energy and Atmosphere, Materials and Resources, Indoor Environmental Quality, and Innovation in Design. Each category contains a number of available credits. LEED® certification depends on both prerequisites and the number of credits obtained by meeting design and construction standards set forth by the Green Building Rating system of the USGBC. There are four classes of certification in the USGBC rating system (Certified, Silver, Gold, and Platinum). The number of points obtained determines which certification class is achieved. A Certified rating requires 26 to 32 points, Silver requires 33 to 38 points, Gold requires 39 to 51 points, and a Platinum rating requires 52 to 69 points. For more information about LEED®, visit the U.S. Green Building Council.
The San Luis II LPOE incorporated design and construction strategies that maximized the use of space while minimizing negative environmental impacts. Recognizing the impact of motor vehicles on the environment, the design enables opportunities for employees to commute to work using alternative modes of transportation. Bicycle racks, showers, and preferred parking spaces for carpools and fuel-efficient vehicles all support this goal.
The team was also committed to protecting as much of the habitat as possible and designing new landscaped areas with plants that are native to the area. Over 100,000 square feet of vegetated open space has been provided using native, drought-tolerant plantings and rock cover. Stormwater quantity and quality control were both addressed on the site through the use of retention pond areas. White roofing materials and canopies were used to reduce roof heat island effects, and concrete paving was used in lieu of black asphalt for most roadway and hardscape surfaces, reducing non-roof heat island effects. The team selected lighting designs and fixtures that would reduce light pollution.
Given the project’s location in one of the nation’s most arid areas, water efficiency was an extremely important design element for both site landscaping and buildings. The native, drought-tolerant plantings and rock cover reduce the need for irrigation. Waterless urinals and high-efficiency toilets in combination with low-flow showerheads and lavatories achieve a 45 percent reduction in water use.
Energy and Atmosphere
In the LEED® evaluation, the project was able to capture all prerequisites and a substantial number of credit points in the Energy and Atmosphere category. Through careful design and equipment selection, engineers were able to optimize energy use and reach a performance level 31.9 percent better than a standard new building. High-efficiency split system heap pump units helped reduce energy consumption. One major energy-saving design element was orienting the site in an east-west direction. Using sunscreens on the south elevation, and minimum surface area and glazing on the east and west faces, contributed to the energy savings.
GSA reduced the required energy purchase through on-site renewable energy generation, installing a 25Kw photovoltaic (PV) panel farm that provides 10 percent of the building’s energy. Fundamental and enhanced commissioning of the building energy systems ensure that systems are operating as designed. GSA also entered into a multi-year contract with the local provider to furnish a certain percentage of Green Power (power generated from renewable sources) along with the standard electrical power supplied to the site.
Materials and Resources
The storage and collection of recyclables prerequisite was addressed through the use of designated recycle bins in the Main and Commercial Inspection buildings. The project construction team was able to divert 75 percent of construction waste away from a local landfill by recycling and reusing waste materials generated on the site. Selective design and product buy-out allowed over 20 percent of construction materials to be extracted, processed, and manufactured within the project region. The project also selected Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)-certified wood. FSC-certified wood ensures that wood for the project was harvested following the highest social and environmental criteria.
Indoor Environmental Quality
Another driving goal for the project was to create a healthy, comfortable indoor environment for building occupants. Throughout the building interiors, materials were selected to reduce the quantity of contaminants; only low-VOC (Volatile Organic Compound) paints and finishes were used along with CRI Green Label Plus carpet. There is no smoking allowed in the buildings, and an exterior area for smoking has been designated which is located away from any doors or windows. The team executed an indoor air quality management plan both during construction and before occupancy. Both lighting and HVAC systems were designed to be automated and controlled by central computer systems for enhanced efficiency.
Innovation and Design Process
The project received credit for using a LEED®-accredited professional to help guide design and construction throughout the project. In addition, the design team was able to capture several additional credit points for innovation in design.
There were many players on the team which contributed to the success of design and construction on this project. A non-exhaustive list includes:
United States Government:
GSA, CBP, USDA, FDA, IBWC, Federal Highway Administration
Arizona State Government:
Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT)
Local and County Government:
City of San Luis
Heery International, Inc.
Design Build Team:
General Contractor – JE Dunn Construction
Architect – Yost Grube and Hall (YGH)
Engineers – LSW, Nickolas Engineering,
The Greater Yuma Port Authority (GYPA)
Cuidad de San Luis Rio Colorado
The shortcut for this page is www.gsa.gov/sanluislpoe.