State planning major expansion at New Mexico border crossing

[anvplayer video=”5143542″ station=”998122″]

SANTA TERESA, N.M. – The Santa Teresa Port of Entry is a bustling trade zone. Recent data shows nearly 12,000 commercial crossings from Mexico each month, and that’s only a fraction of the traffic nearby ports in El Paso saw at the same time.

Now, there’s a new effort to re-route some of that trade through New Mexico, and it’s promising big opportunities for the communities on both sides of the border.

“I think that the Santa Teresa-San Jeronimo project is one of the top three projects for the economic development department right now,” said New Mexico Economic Secretary Alicia Keyes. 

Keyes has been spending a lot of time in southern New Mexico.

“I would say I’m spending 50% of my time on the border right now,” said Keyes. 

Her team is working closely with economic leaders in Mexico to expand and upgrade the Santa Teresa Port of Entry.

“Both sides, Mexico and New Mexico are very interested in creating a port of the future,” Keyes said. 

Keyes says the estimated $170 million expansion will include state-of-the-art technology that will drastically increase the number and type of trucks that can pass through.

“We are one of the only land ports in this area, so we can accommodate big wind blades, we have the opportunity to expand,” said Keyes. 

This planned expansion comes as Mexico positions itself as a global manufacturing hub — similar to countries in South Asia.

Keyes says both sides are already working to bring new companies to communities near the Santa Teresa port.

“The partnerships that we’re looking to do with manufacturing companies, I really think is putting New Mexico in a place where it will be a thriving port in the next few years,” said Keyes.

Keyes says Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham has been focused on expanding international trade since she took office, but says the project got a massive assist from another state’s governor.

“Back in April, Governor Abbott from Texas put additional inspections on his side of the Texas border,” Keyes said. “Traffic stalled, we couldn’t get food over the border.”

Those backups only lasted about a week but rippled through communities all over the Southwest, including New Mexico.

“When something happens at the border, it affects the price of avocados, it affects the price of lettuce and tomatoes in New Mexico,” said Keyes. “And so we really take it very, very seriously.”

Keyes says the Santa Teresa Port of Entry provided an easier trade route during those backups and Mexican leaders noticed.

“The last time that I was down in Mexico City with my team, the president said that his infrastructure was going to the New Mexico side, not the Texas side,” Keyes said. 

While the project is still years away from breaking ground, Keyes believes it’s providing a path forward for New Mexico’s economy.

“The diversification for New Mexico from oil and gas is really the most important point of global trade, is if we can get this whole region going, and the manufacturing companies there, and we can get people jobs in this area of New Mexico it’s only going to benefit us for years to come,” said Keyes.

Keyes says a feasibility study for this project should be done by next summer.

It’s not clear when construction could begin, but Lujan Grisham has already signed off on funding for a new highway connecting the port to the interstate.

Keyes says there’s also talk of building a new rail line across New Mexico’s southern border.