WATCH: Kelly Gets Updates on Arizona Port of Entry Projects

This week, Arizona Senator Mark Kelly, Chair of the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Subcommittee on Transportation and Infrastructure, led an oversight hearing of the General Services Administration’s (GSA) Public Buildings Service, with an emphasis on the land ports of entry projects GSA is constructing in Southern Arizona.  

Kelly, who championed the inclusion of funding within the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law for the construction of three major land port of entry projects in Arizona, asked for and received updates on these projects, including upgrades at the San Luis Port of Entry, improvements to the Raul Castro Land Port of Entry, and the construction of a new commercial port in Douglas, Arizona. These projects are vital for facilitating trade and tourism while addressing security challenges at the Southern border. 

At the hearing, Kelly received commitments from the Commissioner of GSA’s Public Buildings Service, Elliot Doomes, to ensure all three Arizona port projects would be completed by the end of the decade, and Doomes committed to keeping Kelly informed throughout the construction process. Kelly also secured a commitment that GSA will complete a feasibility study by the end of this year for the Dennis DeConcini Land Port of Entry in Nogales, AZ, which will make the project eligible for future construction. 

“One of my top priorities in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law was making sure GSA had the resources to modernize 20 land ports of entry across the country—including three priority projects in Arizona,” said Kelly. “Last June, I had the opportunity to attend the groundbreaking of the San Luis Port of Entry project in Southern Arizona. This project is great news for Arizona, our economy, and border security.” 

Kelly chairs Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Subcommittee on Transportation and Infrastructure

Click here to watch the full video of Kelly’s opening statement. See below a transcript of Kelly’s exchange with Commissioner Doomes of the Public Buildings Service at the U.S. General Services Administration on the Douglas Port of Entry: 

Sen. Kelly: Thank you, Commissioner Doomes. I’m going to start with the five minutes of questions, and I want to follow up on what you discussed in your opening statement about land ports of entry. I know you mentioned the Douglas Port of Entry projects. So, let’s start with these projects, which includes constructing the new commercial land port of entry, but also modernizing the existing port facility—the Raul Castro Land Port of Entry. So, I understand that GSA recently completed the NEPA process for the Douglas port projects. What additional steps need to be completed before GSA can begin the process of soliciting the bids on these projects and then starting construction? 

Commissioner Doomes: Thank you for that question, Senator. GSA conducted the NEPA process and, concurrently with the project development process, we issued a design build solicitation for the Douglas Commercial Land Port of Entry project on January 19th, 2024. This procurement is moving through the process and the award is slated for later this year in September. 

Sen. Kelly: All right. Well, thank you. So, anything else once you submit the award? Can they then just immediately begin construction? 

Commissioner Doomes: Yes, we expect that the construction schedule for that project will be about 3 years. So, we expect a notice to proceed to happen shortly thereafter the award in September. 

Sen. Kelly: So, you think it’ll take three years that includes the new commercial port and the modernization of the existing port? 

Commissioner Doomes: Well, to be clear, Senator, the Douglas commercial construction start is estimated for September of 2025, but the Raul Hector Castro estimated construction start date is January 2027. 

Sen. Kelly: And then the expectation is within three years of 2025 or 2027, the whole thing will be complete? 

Commissioner Doomes: The Douglas will be done three years from September 2025 and the Raul Hector Castro will be done by January 2030. 

Sen. Kelly: All right, thank you. And I understand that you’re working with both the city of Douglas and the State of Arizona to make sure that the new commercial port has the needed roadway and utility connections. I’ll note that my office has been working closely with the with the city and state as well to make sure that we’re able to provide these connections. In fact, one of my top priorities for this year’s appropriations process is securing the roadway funding for the new port of entry. Will you commit to keeping my office up to date on discussions that GSA is having with the city and state on any additional infrastructure needs for the Douglas port? 

Commissioner Doomes: Absolutely, Mr. Chairman. Region 9 is in regular communication with the Arizona Department of Transportation, and county officials in the city of Douglas. In June of 2024, GSA received confirmation that the Arizona State Transportation Board approved the revised five-year transportation facilities construction program that included funding requests for the James Ranch Rd. connector and other improvements along SR-80. And this commitment to seek funds is a positive step towards the Arizona Department of Transportation providing the necessary support infrastructure to make that port operational. GSA will continue to follow up on these infrastructure commitments and I am committing that our Region 9 office will stay in constant communication with you as we move along the process. 

Sen. Kelly: Well, thank you. This is important because it allows us to try to stay and get ahead of any additional need to make sure these are completed on time. 

Sen. Kelly: All right, we may come back to that, but for now I recognize Senator Cramer for five minutes. 

See below a transcript of Kelly’s exchange with Commissioner Doomes on the San Luis port of entry: 

Sen. Kelly: And again, on the San Luis Port of Entry, you know earlier we talked about the completion dates for Douglas and Raul. Is San Luis still on track for 2028 completion? 

Commissioner Doomes: Right now, Senator, the planned completion date for this project remains April of 2029. The contractor broke ground earlier than originally planned, and we will continue to work closely with them and our federal customers to finish the project sooner, if at all possible. 

Sen. Kelly: All right. Thank you.