While the Nogales port of entry has under gone major upgrades during the past couple of years, there’s concerns that although trucks from Mexico are crossing the border more efficiently, once they get into Arizona, there’s gridlock getting out of town to deliver loads of fresh produce to points across North America.
Last January, for example, two 18-wheelers collided on Grand Avenue in route to Nogales and nearby Rio Rico warehouses. Traffic was brought to a screeching halt. The upgrades to the border crossing allows for more inspections to be made faster, but the growing gridlock getting to distribution warehouses, not to mention leaving town, causes plenty of headaches for produce handlers and produce truckers alike.
As a result Nogales produce shippers as well as the locally based Fresh Produce Association of the Americas are pushing state and federal government officials for major upgrades that would allow big rigs to get from the border to Interstate 19 without running into any traffic lights or making the steep climb onto the highway from Mariposa Road.
The state of Arizona has budgeted $6 million for a feasibility study. Some estimates for the total project have ranged from $60 million to $150 million.
Supporters are calling for construction of a “fly over” bypass allowing trucks to get from the border to Interstate 19. In addition to the flyover, the project would include improvements to Exits 12 and 17 in Rio Rico, the exits for many of the Nogales area’s distributors.
The Nogales port of entry now has a capacity for 4,000 vehicles a day, but even during peak times of the year, only about 1,800 vehicles are crossing daily.