As the largest port of entry in Arizona, Mariposa accommodates more than 1.5 million vehicles and 40% of the produce that enters the U.S. from Mexico. By the time the $187-million expansion project reached completion in 2014, construction work doubled most of the facility’s operational areas.

The project consisted of the demolition and construction of all facilities, including inspection areas, a new administration building, a pedestrian processing facility, a new canine kennel and other support structures.

Modeled after a railroad switchyard, the port consists of four parallel, linear zones to manage vehicular traffic separated by a desert garden. The port of entry is expected to achieve LEED Gold through a combination of strategies, including a rainwater collection system that includes a 1-million-gallon underground tank.

The construction team phased the project, centering on expanding the port’s 43-acre footprint without impacting traffic operations during Phase 1. With the site expanded to its final limits so early in the schedule, Phase 2 included relocating key inspection facilities and a doubling of commercial inspection capacity three years before the overall project completion.

The construction of a new, 7,200-sq-ft vault for confiscated items was specifically targeted by Best Projects judges as a significant achievement. It was the first such vault to be commissioned by the General Services Administration immediately upon completion. Previous certifications of similar vaults took more than one year after completion. The team faced specific challenges only prevalent in a vault setting, including the operation of a bank-type vault door, line of sight cameras and the balancing of the HVAC system. The plan for constructing the vault involved four phases, with the existing vault decommissioned and demolished prior to the start of the next phase of work.

The team produced a full-scale mock-up of the various building exterior elements including concrete, raw steel, glass, steel mullions and roofing in the nearby contractor yard. The mock-up was punched and then used as a baseline for quality standards throughout the project.

As part of this mock-up, the team discovered open web joist penetrations that were problematic for waterproofing, leading them to add a post-construction water test to every penetration on the building to ensure installation met performance requirements.

Well into the reconstruction of the facility, Customs and Border Patrol expanded the facility’s mandate from traffic entering the country to additionally inspecting traffic leaving the country. The change added $10 million to the project. Stantec and Jones Studio mobilized to implement the additional work.

Paul Andrade, General Services Administration project executive, says the project provided “a world class facility that deserves distinction.”

Expansion and Modernization of the Mariposa Land Port of Entry

Mariposa, Ariz.

Key Players
General Services Administration
Lead Design Firm Jones Studio Inc.
General Contractor Hensel-Phelps
Civil Engineering Stantec Consulting Services