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Border communities celebrate a new breed of GSA project

High-impact, low-cost projects are quickly becoming the trend in meeting short and medium term needs when fiscal constraints prevent funding major construction projects. On September 6, 2012, the cities of San Luis, Arizona and San Luis Rio Colorado, Mexico joined GSA and Customs and Border Protection in celebrating the two-lane expansion project at the San Luis l Land Port of Entry, a high-impact, low-cost project that will greatly benefit both border communities. More than 70 federal, state and local leaders attended a community event to celebrate the opening of the additional lanes and increased capacity, the innovative thinking behind this project, and the close partnership involved.

“Improving the infrastructure at our land ports of entry on the United States–Mexico border is vital to the economic vibrancy of both countries,” said GSA Regional Administrator Ruth Cox. “GSA worked closely with CBP and other state and regional stakeholders to make this high-impact, low-cost project a reality and remains committed to seeking any potential opportunities within the port for expansion and operational improvements in the short and medium term.”

The almost $2 million expansion project was funded by CBP as a way to increase throughput at this critical land port where thousands of people cross the Arizona border each day. The 15-month project transformed a landscaped median into two additional lanes, increasing the total of northbound lanes from eight to 10 at one of the area’s most congested land ports of entry. These additional lanes increase capacity by 25 percent for those travelers entering the United States for work and personal reasons.

“This expansion will be a huge benefit for this port of entry, and for the San Luis–Sonora, Mexico border crossing community,” said William K. Brooks, acting director of field operations for U.S. Customs & Border Protection. “The volume of traffic through San Luis has grown tremendously over the years, and these improvements will allow CBP to better process this increasing volume and ultimately reduce wait times.”

Cox and Brooks were joined by Congressman Raul Grijalva; San Luis Mayor Jerry Sanchez; San Luis Rio Colorado Mayor Joel Ricardo Aguirre Yescas; Arizona Department of Transportation Director John Halikowski; and Executive Director of the Arizona–Mexico Commission Margie Emmerman as speakers at the event.

Guest speakers talked about the significant benefits these additional lanes will have on the traveling public and commerce along the Arizona–Mexico border. Mayor Sanchez spoke of the vast improvement he’s personally seen since the new lanes opened. He described the large number of workers who cross the border every day as they report for work in Arizona and indicated this project meets a critical need but there is still more work that needs to be done in this region. He looks forward to working with GSA, CBP and our partners in the future to make additional enhancements to the port infrastructure.

One of the driving factors for this expansion project was the desire to complete the construction prior to the start of this year’s agricultural season. The two additional lanes were officially opened on August 23, 2012 and are expected to help reduce the wait times for travelers during one of the busiest times of year.

Special thanks to the following GSA personnel for transforming this idea into a completed project: Abdee Gharavi, Anthony Kleppe and Keith Hsiueh.

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