Today, U.S. Senator Tom Udall, a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, and Senator Martin Heinrich announced that they have secured $85.6 million for construction of a new, replacement land port of entry in Columbus, New Mexico. The project will expand the current border crossing facilities to safely and efficiently accommodate increases in car, commercial and pedestrian traffic — improving security, encouraging trade and creating jobs in Southern New Mexico. The funding will also be used to address significant stormwater drainage issues at the port.
The current Columbus Port of Entry was built in 1989 to screen visitors entering the United States, but the existing facility provides less than a third of the space U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) needs for current and future traffic. Construction plans include a new main building, commercial and noncommercial inspection facilities, additional pedestrian processing, export facilities, a hazardous materials containment area, increased parking capacity and more. Similar efforts are underway south of the border, where the government of Mexico is working to reroute traffic and improve access to port facilities.
“I’ve been working to secure funding to modernize the facility through my role on the Senate Appropriations Committee, and I’m very pleased to have been able to use that position to secure this $85.6 million to enable the project to move forward,” said Udall, who also secured an initial $7.4 million to design the expansion. “The Columbus Port of Entry is incredibly important to trade, economic development and security for our nation and Southwest New Mexico. But the current facility can’t keep up with commercial or pedestrian traffic and faces other issues like frequent flooding. Once complete, the expanded port will ensure Columbus can keep up with demand and attract new business to New Mexico.” Udall also toured the Columbus POE last year with then-General Services Administrator Dan Tangherlini to continue to bring attention to the need to expand the port and improve transportation.
“A modern Port of Entry in Columbus will lead to more efficient trade between the United States and Mexico, accommodate the growth of commercial and commuter crossing in the region, and create good jobs,” Heinrich said. “Our state’s border region is a bright spot in our economy. New Mexico is the fastest-growing state in the country for jobs related to international exports. I welcome this federal investment and the economic activity it will bring to Luna County.”
The new funding was included in the “omnibus” appropriations bill to fund the government, which was signed into law last week. A detailed summary of the project is available here.
The senators’ support for improving the Columbus Port of Entry is part of a broader effort to expand border commerce. For example, Udall and Heinrich have worked to extend the Border Commercial Zone further into New Mexico to increase tourism and business opportunities. They have also championed a major expansion of the Santa Teresa Port of Entry, which doubled the number of primary vehicle inspections lanes, added an additional cargo lane, expanded passenger and commercial vehicle queuing, constructed a pedestrian sidewalk, enhanced CBP pedestrian and secondary inspection areas, improved security with additional cameras and non-intrusive inspection equipment and added an on-site kennel to the port.