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Biden Includes $103 Million for The Construction of a New Pedestrian Port of Entry

-Editorial

Good news for Imperial Valley came as the federal government has included a proposed funding item to complete the Calexico Port of Entry Expansion. 

Years have passed since the construction and opening of the port of entry expansion in Calexico that has changed the infrastructure on both sides of the border. 

On May 28, President Joe Biden released his first full budget request to Congress, laying out a comprehensive proposal for Fiscal Year 2022. The President’s budget includes nearly $103.4 million to complete the Calexico West Land Port of Entry reconfiguration and expansion project. 

The funding would allow the General Services Administration to finish the final phase of the project. This phase includes a pedestrian processing building with expanded northbound pedestrian inspection stations, demolition of legacy facilities, and significant earthwork.  It should be noted that the Calexico West project is the only proposed border port included in the president’s budget.

“Although this is not the final budget, which will likely not be passed until the end of this calendar year, this is good news and a sign that the County of Imperial leadership’s continued advocacy for this project has not fallen on deaf ears,” said Rebecca Terrazas-Baxter, Intergovernmental Relations Director. 

Imperial County Supervisor District 1 Jesus Eduardo Escobar said he was pleased with the news since it will be a great benefit for Calexico since its the only one considered for the demolition and reconstruction of the pedestrian port. 

“That’s going to be a game-changer if you think about it. We are going from ten lanes to sixteen lanes within hopefully a calendar year. That’s obviously the vehicular traffic at Calexico West. This is the only port of entry on the President’s budget which is a huge deal for us and downtown Calexico,” Escobar said. 

The County has already received a commitment from Senator Dianne Feinstein’s staff that this project is a priority of the Senator and that she and her staff will work diligently to keep the funding in the final budget.  Also, the County and our federal lobbyists will work hard to ensure that it remains in the final budget.

The downtown Calexico West Land Port of Entry is the principal gateway between California’s Imperial Valley and the Mexican State of Baja California. On an average day, over 22,000 privately operated vehicles and 26,000 pedestrians travel through this port, north and southbound. 

In 2014, Congress appropriated $23.8 million for site acquisition and design of the new facility. Former President Barack Obama included the allocation of just over $98 million in the FY2015 budget; with $100 million required for construction of Phase 1. An additional $275 million was required for the construction of Phase 2. Across the border, Mexico’s planned expansion of Mexicali I port and roadways have been completed. 

This Port also included a rail crossing operated by Union Pacific Railroad. In 2012, the rail line processed $273 million in U.S. exports to Mexico. The project involved the construction of new pedestrian inspection facilities, expanding the port of entry onto the site of the former commercial inspection facility, whose operations moved to Calexico East in 1996.

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