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US: New commercial lanes at Mariposa Port of EntryCommercial vehicles, heading in a northbound direction, pulled up at a new set of processing lanes at the Mariposa Port of Entry this Monday, one day after passenger vehicles began using a separate set of lanes.
As he watched the first trucks drive through the stainless steel booths set underneath a sleek weathered-metal canopy, Guadalupe Ramirez, port director in Nogales for U.S. Customs and Border Protection, called the move to the new lanes "a huge step for us."
The traffic-pattern change marks the transition into the third phase of the four-phase, $184-million modernization and expansion of the port of entry. By diverting commercial traffic to the new set of lanes on the east side of the complex and privately owned vehicles (POVs) to the west side, Ramirez said, it clears the way for crews to begin demolishing the old port buildings at the center of the complex.
Once this has been done new construction will commence.
While the old configuration offered four lanes for commercial traffic entering the United States, the new set-up has eight. The number of POV lanes will soon increase from four to six – two lanes under the new canopy are still being outfitted with the security equipment – and by the time the entire project is completed in 2014, the port will feature 12 lanes for privately owned vehicles.
there was no congestion at the commercial lanes on Monday morning, though the same could not be said for the pedestrian entries. Although Ramirez says help is on the way.
"We have quite a few officers completing their training in the next couple of months," he said.
"They will be hitting the line in the next couple of months and it will make a huge impact on our operations."
For now, Ramirez promised no reductions in service at the port, and said the additional lanes will help CBP respond better to temporary increases in traffic.
In the past, when traffic flow jumped during holidays or periods of peak seasonal travel, the agency could only respond with a maximum of four lanes on both the commercial and POV sides. Now, with eight commercial lanes and a soon-to-be six-lane POV area, Ramirez said, "as the need arises, we’ll be able to tap into more lanes."
For officers working at the port, the new booths are roomier, bulletproof and shaded by the canopy.
"We couldn’t be prouder and we couldn’t be happier with this new facility," Ramirez said as trucks pulled out of the new commercial lanes behind him. "This really opens a lot of opportunities for Arizona."
Publication date: 5/3/2012
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