Today, U.S. Senators Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich welcomed the beginning of construction on a new road to improve traffic flow and safety at the Columbus Port of Entry (POE). The new road will be east of the existing vehicle entry to the Columbus POE and is expected to be completed in November 2015.
The Columbus POE was built in 1989 to screen visitors entering the United States. Today the facilities are outdated, prone to flooding and hinder economic growth. Udall and Heinrich have supported plans to modernize the facility, and the senators are now pushing for full funding to begin construction on the project, which will help facilitate commerce and expand trade and economic ties with Mexico. While the process to modernize and expand the Columbus POE moves forward, the new temporary road will redirect commercial traffic entering the U.S. from Mexico — creating a safer crossing for pedestrians, including schoolchildren, and increasing economic activity.
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 and Union Pacific’s rail facility.
“The Columbus Port of Entry plays an important role in Southwest New Mexico’s economy. I’m glad the GSA heard my call to build a temporary road that will make border inspections more efficient and improve safety for pedestrians,” said Udall, who as a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, helped secure $7.4 million in initial funding to design an expansion. 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. “I’ll keep pushing for full funding to modernize the port of entry and ensure it can keep up with demand and help draw more binational business to the region. But until the project is completed, this new bypass will be a big improvement.”
“Critical infrastructure improvements along the border, such as the new Columbus Port of Entry commercial bypass, allow for improved public safety and more efficient trade between the United States and Mexico by accommodating the growth between commercial and commuter crossings in the region, while creating high quality jobs,” Heinrich said. “As New Mexico grows as an international trade center, the Columbus POE will be key to ensuring our border communities continue to prosper from their unique bi-national culture and economy.”