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San Luis Boarder Improvements

San Luis Boarder Improvements
by Bob Ham

Late this summer a brand new border crossing will open near the San Luis port of entry near Yuma. Unfortunately for most recreational border crossers this new crossing will be a commercial port of entry for inspection of big rigs. That’s the bad news, the good news is that the relocation of the commercial port to this new site that is designated as “San Luis II” will free up the real estate that formerly housed the commercial port to allow CBP to add new inspection lanes for northbound passenger vehicles.

The reconfiguration of the existing San Luis port, now designated as San Luis I, will be the final phase of a $200 million project that began with the plans to move the commercial port to a new location to the east of the current congested port of entry. One of the most difficult challenges to modernizing any of the existing ports along the southern border is the lack of available space to install the high-tech security enhancements that are now required after 9-11.

The challenge of adding new inspection lanes to accommodate the increased international travel since the original construction of these ports has been an even more daunting problem for the planners who are trying to ensure that our ports do not overly constrain the legal passage of goods and people across our international borders. Moving out the commercial port to an entirely new location provided the Greater Yuma Port Authority (GYPA) an opportunity to make plans for a more efficient movement of manufactured goods and produce across the borders, and it created an opportunity to modernize the existing San Luis I port and to add badly needed new lanes.

Last year Congress appropriated $7 million to design the reconfigured San Luis I port. The design contracts were awarded and the design work has been underway since March. GYPA plans to begin construction on the reconfiguration of the port in 2011 with completion to occur sometime in 2013. While this seems like a long time to wait for those travelers who use San Luis I as an access point to travel to Puerto PeƱasco or San Felipe, the GYPA along with the CBP are planning interim measures that will immediately create temporary new inspection lanes including a long awaited SENTRI lane for the San Luis/Yuma commuter community.

The Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) and the City of San Luis are also busy planning a more efficient transportation that will facilitate the flow of cross border traffic through and around the community of San Luis and on to Interstate 8. The grand opening of the new commercial port is set for September of this year, and interim improvements, including the new SENTRI could be underway within months of that milestone.