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County to pay $17 million for next step in Tornillo Port of Entry

By: Genevieve Curtis

EL PASO, Texas--El Paso County commissioners approved construction of phase two of the Tornillo Port of Entry.
Phase two will connect the Tornillo Port of Entry to the rest of the borderland. The Manuel Aguilera Highway will go between 1-10 and the Alameda Ave.
Phase two is the actual roadway and bridge from Interstate 10 going southeast to Texas 20 and Alameda and crossing the railroad tracks, said Ernie Carrizal, county public works director.
Phase two will cost the county around $17 million and there will be no more federal funds used on the project.
A majority of the money will come from the increased vehicle registration fees and 2012 bonds.
But that won't be enough to cover the entire project so the county is working with the Camino Real Regional Mobility Authority to find other sources of funding.
Carrizal said construction won't be completed until the end of 2015 but county staff can now get started on major aspects of the project, like getting the land they need.
Acquisition of the land, having a public hearing. Three is negotiating with the landowners. That's the biggest road we've been waiting for, said Carrizal.
The U.S. side of the port of entry is almost complete and Mexico broke ground last month on their side.
The bridge is expected to open at the end of the year and when that happens Carrizal said the business wont be far behind.
Once we go commercial we will start getting more commercial traffic. These truck drivers are going to want a place to stop, fuel up, eat, rest. So those types of businesses are going to start showing up on the U.S. side of the border, said Carrizal.
There are no new businesses yet but there are designs for some in the works.
We know it's coming, it's just a matter of time. People are waiting for the bridge to be complete, said Carrizal.
Lupe Martinez of Tornillo said he's looking forward to what the bridge brings and the new opportunities the roads will open.

The county plans to bid out the project this fall and construction will begin soon after.