SANTA TERESA, New Mexico (Border Report) – A growing option for Mexican truckers hauling to the U.S. parts assembled in Juarez factories, the Santa Teresa port of entry is reporting record volumes of traffic.
More than 160,000 commercial trucks came over the border at Santa Teresa last year and early indications point to 2023 being another record-breaking year, said Tony Hall, the port’s new director. The growth is fueling momentum for a pending multi-million-dollar expansion of a border crossing that provides an alternative to El Paso’s two commercial ports – especially when it comes to oversized cargo that would otherwise have to traverse the El Paso-Juarez urban sprawl.
“There is a feasibility study that we hope to complete in the next year. At that point, we hope to get plans in place for a new port of entry (and) develop new technology to match the size of growth we are seeing in Santa Teresa,” said Hall, who on Tuesday took over from Fernando Thome at a change-of-command ceremony. Thome is now the assistant director of field operations for U.S. Customs and Border Protection in El Paso.
Hall said the increased truck activity is creating commercial opportunities along the Mexico-New Mexico border. All three industrial parks in Santa Teresa, for instance, are “completely full,” he said.
New Mexico Border Authority Executive Director Marco Grajeda concurs that trade growth in Santa Teresa is a windfall for the region.
“We’re very excited about the growth we’ve seen so far. In the last three years alone, we’ve been able to double commercial crossings and activity,” Grajeda said. “To put it in perspective, we are crossing 650 commercial trucks a day through the port of entry; in 2019 we were crossing 350.”
Grajeda said stakeholders are working on infrastructure to fuel further growth. There’s the port expansion in the works, federal and state investment to build a road to move Texas-bound traffic more smoothly, and improvements to the regional airport just north of the crossing.
“We’re the port of entry for hazardous materials like gasoline and such. We’re also the port of entry for oversized, overweight vehicles. We see this port as having a regional impact, so not only does New Mexico benefit from it but El Paso and Juarez are going to benefit,” he said.
Mexico late last year announced it would be modernizing its portion of the port, which is the favored crossing point for 120-foot-long blades for wind-powered turbines.
“The work that is going on in San Jeronimo (across the border from Santa Teresa) is very extensive, very intense,” said Ricardo Hernandez Lacanda, Mexico’s deputy consul general in El Paso. “We are coordinating efforts between our SAT (customs collections) and the national tax office to be in lockstep with CBP. The coordination going on to improve this port of entry is a prime example of binational cooperation.”
Hernandez said Mexican authorities were familiar with Hall from his tenure as port director of the Columbus-Palomas port of entry and welcomed his appointment as the new Santa Teresa port director.
Hall has also been an assistant port director in San Ysidro, California, and headed the Trusted Traveler Program in San Diego. He is a University of Texas at El Paso graduate.