The State Dept. is moving ahead with plans for two new U.S. consulate complexes in Mexico, near the Texas border, continuing a program to improve some facilities and build new ones in a country where the U.S. consular operation is its largest in the world.

The department’s Bureau of Overseas Buildings Operations (OBO) announced on Jan. 2 that it had awarded a construction contract to B.L. Harbert International, Birmingham, Ala., for a consulate project in Nuevo Laredo, across the border from Laredo, Texas.
The department estimates the design-build project’s total cost at $156 million. The estimated construction cost ranges from $68 million to $95 million.

The 5.6-acre project will include a consulate, a U.S. Marine security guard residence and other facilities.

Moore Ruble Yudell, Santa Monica, is the project’s design architect and Page, Washington, D.C., will be the architect of record.

OBO also said on Jan. 2 that it had awarded Richärd+Bauer, Phoenix, a contract as design architect for a new consulate complex in Matamoros, across the border from Brownsville, Texas.

The firm will do the schematic design for the project, which will be located on an eight-acre site.

OBO said that it anticipates awarding a contract to complete the design and carry out the construction for the Matamoros project during the current federal fiscal year.

According to the State Dept., the U.S. Mission in Mexico handles about 20% of of its American citizens services worldwide. For example, in fiscal year 2014, U.S. consular facilities there processed more than 1.7 million non-immigrant visas.

A State Dept. official said via email, "Many of our facilities in Mexico require infrastructure upgrades and in other locations [there], new facilities are necessary to address critical safety priorities."

Besides the recently announced awards for Nuevo Laredo and Matamoros, design is under way for a new embassy in Mexico City and a construction award for that project is planned in fiscal year 2016.

Beyond those projects, the State Dept. also plans new consulates in Hermosillo, Guadalajara, Merida and Nogales.

The department has finished new consulates in Ciudad Juarez, Monterrey and Tijuana.