NOGALES, Ariz. — After a years-long effort on the part of the produce industry, government officials and others, ground finally was broken on Oct. 22 for the new Mariposa Land Port of Entry.

The facility will have 56 docks for offloading cargo for inspection, eight commercial lanes and 12 lanes for private vehicles, said J.B. Manson, chairman of the Greater Nogales and Santa Cruz County Port Authority and president of Pacific Brokerage Co. Inc.

Manson was a primary supporter of the project and joined dignitaries such as Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer, Sonora Gov. Guillermo Padres and Nogales Mayor Octavio Garcia-Von Borstel at the official groundbreaking ceremony.

Old location

The existing port was built in the 1970s to handle about 400 trucks a day. Now, during the peak of the west Mexico produce season, as many as 1,600 trucks cross through the 30-acre site daily.

The $200 million, 48-acre facility will have ample room for the latest technology to conduct noninvasive inspections.

Although building the new port of entry may take up to four years, contractors promised not to reduce the flow of traffic during that time, Manson said, and he expects inspections to actually increase by 50%.

Members of the Nogales produce industry were happy to hear that construction finally is under way.

Because of the high probability of delays at the border, the Nogales office of Santa Paula, Calif.-based Calavo Growers Inc. works on a day-behind inventory schedule to ensure that product is on hand before it’s sold, said JJ Badillo, director of diversified products.

“Anytime there’s a bottleneck and you can create a system that opens that bottleneck and lets things flow, it’s much better,” he said.

Brent Harrison, president of Al Harrison Co. Distributors, was on hand for the groundbreaking.

“It’s going to make it easier and faster for everything to cross,” he said. “It’s really going to put Nogales on the map.”