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60.3 F
San Diego
Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Fast, Decisive Action Needed at Jammed U.S. Land Ports

U.S. and Canadian officials will meet in tiny Jackman, Maine, this month, and, if winter permits, sink a ceremonial shovel into the cold, hard earth.

The Jackman groundbreaking is more than just pomp , a tangible step toward easing the fierce border congestion spawned by heightened trade with Canada and Mexico, made worse through years of inattention to our land ports.

Not surprisingly, traffic and tempers have flared to the boiling point. On average, about $2 billion in trade crosses the nation’s 163 borders each day, along with 350,000 vehicles, 135,000 pedestrians and 30,000 trucks.

Jackman is getting a new facility because the old one is woefully outdated.

But the story’s the same in countless Northern and Southern border towns, where lanes intended to facilitate trade and travel are, too often, choked with cars, trucks and exhaust fumes.


That is why I announced several months ago that the U.S. General Services Administration , responsible for building and maintaining our nation’s land ports , is committed to bringing new resources and energy to this urgent task.

Over the past several months, we have significantly cut the time it takes to build and design a land port; encouraged state and local leaders to send us practical solutions to relieve congestion; and urged greater participation from the private sector.

GSA currently has 27 land port projects valued at $1.8 billion. Included in the mix are new inspection booths, roads, bridges, and secondary checkpoints, including San Ysidro.

In moving forward, we’ve learned some valuable lessons. Those lessons will be part of the agenda in May, when GSA sponsors a unique land ports conference in San Diego.

The event will bring together numerous experts on issues ranging from city officials sharing insights on how sister cities can improve commerce and security, to utilizing public-private partnerships to stimulate new border projects, opportunities for local, small businesses to participate in the building boom at our land ports, and to being prepared in case of a catastrophic event at the borders of the U.S..

Such topics warrant our undivided attention. Ports of Entry are critical facilities that not only control the secure flow of legitimate trade and travel across our borders; ports also provide foreign visitors their first glimpse of our great nation.

The time to act is now, and at GSA, we are committed to action.

Lurita Doan is administrator of the U.S. General Services Administration.


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