- Associated Press - Friday, October 17, 2014

TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) - Officials say a years-long, multi-million-dollar expansion at the Mariposa Port of Entry in Nogales, Arizona, will ease trade and tourist traffic while increasing security.

A celebration this week marked the $244 million expansion to the port of entry. The port now has a dozen car lanes, a bus lanes and the capacity to process more than 4,000 trucks a day.

Traffic at the Mariposa Port of Entry has grown significantly in the past few years. In 2011, about $20 to $25 million in trade goods were transported through the port. This year, that number is expected to jump to $30 million to $35 million, according to the Nogales Port Authority Board. The number of trucks that cross the border also has increased from 276,877 in 2009 to more than 311,000 last year. Cross-border trade includes fruits, vegetables and other goods.

The expansion was funded by federal stimulus money. All of the additions to the port of entry are LEED Silver certified by the U.S. Green Buildings Council, according to a news release.

“This is a milestone achievement for our community which for generations has been literally on the frontier of international trade. We are also proud that our new port will be an economic boon to the entire state,” Bruce Bracker, chairman of the Port Authority, said in a statement.

But Arizona congressional delegates worry that the expansion won’t be fully fruitful for cross-border trade if the Mariposa Port of Entry is not adequately staffed, according to a letter the delegation sent to Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson on Wednesday.

“Unfortunately, stakeholders report that the Tucson field office, which includes the port facilities in Nogales, Arizona, is understaffed and suffering from a high percentage of vacant positions as compared to other districts. We believe that the shortfalls those stakeholders have identified are urgent needs that must be fully addressed in order for the ports to function at their optimum capacity,” the delegation wrote.


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