Shipments of fresh produce from Mexico are also increasing at the Mariposa crossing, but the number of border staff on the U.S. side is a problem and expected to continue to contribute to slow traffic there, said Lance Jungmeyer, president of the Fresh Produce Association of the Americas, Nogales, Ariz.
“Despite Nogales being set to receive another 120 (Customs and Border Patrol) field officers in the next year, we will still be lacking the resources to run at capacity. Unfortunately this is the same across all southwest ports of entry that I know of,” Jungmeyer said.
There is good news, though, Jungmeyer said. Capital improvements at the port of entry should be adequate to handle traffic there for the next 10 to 15 years, Jungmeyer said. However, to ease congestion, Jungmeyer said Mariposa Road north of the port will need significant improvements.
“Luckily, the Arizona Department of Transportation has authorized funding of the studies necessary to determine what changes must be made, and this road is a priority for the state,” Jungmeyer said. “So, we are confident that the state of Arizona will make the necessary infrastructure improvements on this key roadway in the coming years.”
Jungmeyer said the past season saw strong volumes of produce from Mexico come through the Mariposa crossing.
“We see companies continuing to invest in their own warehouses, which indicates that they anticipate doing more business here than in the past,” he said.
For September 2013 through April this year, FPAA officials said 37% of all Mexican produce came to the U.S. via Mariposa. For the same period in 2013 Mariposa was the entry port for 34% of Mexican produce.
Overall, the dollar amount of cargo and the number of trucks has increased “substantially” since 2010, according to a news release from the port authority.
Truck traffic grew 13%, according to the release, increasing from 276,877 trucks in 2009 to 311,669 trucks in 2013.
The value of cargo going through the Mariposa crossing is up 50% to 75%, according to the release. In 2011 an estimated $20 billion to $25 billion in trade goods went through the crossing. For 2014 the port authority estimates that will be $30 billion to $35 billion.
“Enhanced staffing of the port, along with current investments in Mexican infrastructure, will complement the U.S. investment in our port and expedite trade,” said Nils Urman, who represents Nogales Community Development, in the port authority release.
“Trade opportunities are both northbound and southbound. We will continue to see increases in export trade southbound into Mexico,” he said in the release.