$85M GSA Project Upgrades New Mexico Port of Entry
📅 Wed October 25, 2017 - West Edition #22
Chuck Harvey - CEG CORRESPONDENT
The new port of entry will provide the Department of Homeland Security’s Customs and Border Protection with facilities to help the agency’s mission of keeping America’s borders safe and secure.
(U.S. General Services Administration photo)
Crews will construct larger, more modern inspection and operational facilities as part of an $85 million upgrade under way at the land port of entry in Columbus, N.M. The new buildings will be built north of the existing 14.72-acre site, allowing the existing facility to continue its operation as construction is in progress.
Work is on schedule and at budget, according to the U.S. General Services Administration, manager of the project.
“GSA's mission is to deliver the best value in real estate to government and the American people,” said Jim Weller, GSA acting regional administrator.
“Through the partnerships we've developed at the federal, state and local levels, the new Columbus Port of Entry will be a 21st century facility that will benefit the customs and border protection, its sister agencies and the community of users who pass through it every day.”
The larger facilities are designed to address a steady increase in car, truck and pedestrian traffic crossing the border. Crews also will install improved storm water drainage systems at the site. Existing facilities are being expanded to handle present and future traffic volumes at the port.
Crossings at the U.S. land port of entry have increased dramatically, creating a need for newer, more efficient facilities. From 2010 to 2016 crossings increased by a reported 40,000 people. During that time period, commercial traffic crossing the border at the port jumped by 60 percent.
Bordering Palomas, Chihuahua the Columbus port of entry is approximately 30 mi. south of Deming and 65 mi. west of the Santa Teresa port of entry.
The reconstruction project is designed to improve security, encourage trade and create jobs in the community. That includes helping improve and streamline U.S. Customs and Border patrol's inspection process at the Columbus crossing.
Work on the project started in April and is expected to be completed by February 2019.
Roomy Main Building
The project includes construction of a new 48,415 sq.-ft. main building, commercial and non-commercial primary and secondary inspection facilities, pedestrian processing area, an outbound canopy, export facilities, non-intrusive inspection systems, a hazardous materials containment area, a new earthen berm and drainage basin and enlargement of an existing culvert. It also features construction of outside vehicle parking and a kennel. In addition, crews will relocate an existing canopy structure and building and put down new pavement.
The new port of entry will provide the Department of Homeland Security's Customs and Border Protection with facilities to help the agency's mission of keeping America's borders safe and secure.
In December 2016, the U.S. General Services Administration awarded a construction contract for the Columbus port of entry to Hensel Phelps Construction Co. of Austin, Texas. Hensel Phelps plans, builds and manages a diverse range of domestic and international project types that encompass new construction and renovation of a variety of project types including aviation and transportation, commercial office, educational, government, healthcare, mission critical, hospitality and leisure, industrial, justice and public safety, lab and research, multi-residence and museum and library projects.
The U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) considered a number of factors in awarding the project contract to Hensel Phelps including cost of bid, the company's overall qualifications and its experience in the construction of government facilities.
Current construction includes site work, utility installation, concrete pavement placement, installation of concrete footings and floor slabs, masonry work including concrete masonry unit (CMU) installation (CMU is a standard size rectangular block used in building construction) and electrical work.
Heavy equipment at the construction site includes bulldozers, dirt hauling trucks, backhoes, cement trucks and cement pouring equipment and delivery trucks.
Buildings Include Brick Masonry Veneer
All buildings will include a multi-color brick masonry veneer over the CMU masonry structure. All canopies will be built of steel columns and steel canopy framing.
All of the steel will be weathered, which eliminates the need for painting.
Construction is being done in five phases. Phases 1 and 2, scheduled for completion in July 2018, include site improvements around the existing facility, as well as construction of the new buildings.
Phases 3 through 5 include demolition of the existing buildings and site structures. Those phases are set for completion in February 2019.
Port of entry agencies are scheduled to move into the new buildings in July 2018.
Expediting Movement of Mexican Goods
The port is a major entryway for Mexican green and red chili and jalapeño peppers headed for processing plants in New Mexico. Mexican truckers also carry livestock, including cattle, north across the border at the site.
On the human side, the port of entry is the crossing point for hundreds of U.S.-born Mexican children who attend school in Columbus or Deming.
And the port is important to continued growth in commerce on both sides of the border.
“The new port will enhance security along America's border and create jobs in the local community,” said Sylvia Hernandez, GSA regional administrator in a release issued when the project contract was awarded in December 2016.
The original Columbus land port of entry was built in 1989. Its workspace and inspection facilities no longer meet operational needs. Also, advances in technology have led to changes in the inspection process.
New Mexico has two other ports of entry. The tiny Antelope Wells crossing point in the Bootheel area (southwestern corner of New Mexico) opened in 2013. Construction of the port cost $11 million. The third New Mexico port is located at Santa Teresa. It received $10 million in federal funds for improvements in 2010.